The Race Club

Gary Hall Sr - grundare av The Race Club. 10-faldig världsrekordhållare, 3-faldig OS-deltagare och amerikansk flaggbärare på OS 1976.
Gary Hall Sr - grundare av The Race Club. 10-faldig världsrekordhållare, 3-faldig OS-deltagare och amerikansk flaggbärare på OS 1976.

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exempel på "det nya bröstsimmet" ser du ovan. Lagkamraten till Adam Peaty - Sarah Vasey simmar med slang.....

Publicerad 10 december 2018

I love watching Adam Peaty and Lilly King do breaststroke. It is the new breaststroke. You might call it a high octane breaststroke, as it is a powerful technique for the 50 and 100 breaststroke, primarily (Adam doesn’t even swim the 200 breast). This new breaststroke should be fast in both tempo and speed.
Having a fast stroke rate in breaststroke does not necessarily equate to having speed. It is pretty easy to spin your wheels in breaststroke and waste a lot of energy without having much to show for that effort in terms of speed. Breaststroke is the most timing-sensitive of all four strokes. It requires a completely different set of tools to do well, which includes hip, ankle and lumbar spinal flexibility. It is also a stroke where, in order to do well, neither the arms nor the legs ever get to rest. For all of these reasons, breaststroke is the most difficult stroke to teach and learn.
Lilly and Adam have several things in common in their breaststroke technique. Both swimmers are very strong in the pull and the kick. Both swimmers use their upper bodies and heads extremely well to couple with the pull and the kick. Both swimmers have lightning fast legs.
Having the right hip and ankle flexibility enables a breaststroker to push the instep of the feet backward with greater surface area, resulting in more propulsion. Having more lumbar flexibility enables a breaststroker to elevate the shoulders higher out of the water, while still keeping the legs pointing backwards. The higher the shoulders climb, the harder they fall. It is in the falling of the upper body and head where the timing becomes crucial for the kick.
If the swimmer is to take advantage of all of that energy of the upper body and head crashing down, there is precious little time from the end of the pulling propulsion, when the shoulders are fully elevated and legs pointing backwards, until the start of the subsequent kicking propulsion, when the upper body should be striking the water. Shortly after that, the kinetic energy of the upper body goes to zero. If the kick didn’t happen in time, you just missed the dance. That is where the lightning fast legs comes into play.
Recently, using Pressure Meter technology at The Race Club, we measured the force on the pulling hands of world class Croatian breaststroker, Nikolas Obravac. By increasing his stroke rate by 4 strokes per minute (53 to 57) and by increasing the speed of elevation of his shoulders by 9% (207 degrees per second to 227 degrees per second), Niko increased the pressure (force) on his right hand by 9% and on his left hand by 3%. We will feature all of Niko’s results in an upcoming webisode.
While Niko’s shoulder elevation is a coupling motion for his breaststroke pulling force, we presume that coupling will work for his kick, also, if the timing is right. To develop lightning fast legs for breaststroke requires great strength and training. Then, with those fast legs, to augment the power of the kick, the head must snap down hard and the body press forward vigorously.
This week on Lanes 2, 3 and 4 you will find one of our favorite drills for teaching and improving the coupling motions of breaststroke, with Olympian Mike Alexandrov demonstrating this technique so well. We hope you will enjoy learning how to develop this important breaststroke technique.
Yours in swimming,
Gary Sr.

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Publicerad 3 december 2018

The Proof of Coupling Motions
For several years I have written many Aqua Notes at The Race Club pertaining to coupling. I have come to believe that coupling motions are extremely important in swimming all four strokes and on the start to enhance power. I have never been able to prove that belief is correct…..until now.
Recently we invested in some technology at The Race Club that enables us to measure propulsion (pressure) on the hands during the pulling motion. The technology also measures the speed and degree of body rotation (angular velocity) with each stroke. We synchronize those measurements precisely with the swimmer’s video so we can see how much propulsion and body rotation are happening at each .02 seconds during the stroke cycle. No one has ever done that before. We call this technology the Pressure Meter and it is now available to any swimmer that wants to use it at The Race Club.
This week, in Lanes 2, 3, and 4, you will see in our webisode how one of the three and perhaps the most powerful coupling motions on the start, the back-leg kick, has a profound impact on the start of elite sprinter, Aaron Greenberg.
Aaron had never used a meaningful back leg kick in his sprint career until we recently worked with him. In just two hours, he completely changed the intensity and height of his back-leg kick, resulting in greater peak velocity and acceleration off the block, as well as increasing his distance to entry and decreasing his time to breakout. Using Velocity Meter technology, we were able to compare Aaron’s old start with the new one. You will find all of the details of the outcome of this comparison, along with a comparison with Brad Tandy’s start, on this new webisode.
As interesting as that information might be, since we didn’t actually measure the forces off of the starting block, it doesn’t necessarily prove that the leg kick increased those forces, even though the back-leg kick was the primary difference in the two start techniques. It is suggestive, but not proof.
When we recently tested several elite athletes from Indiana University’s post grad program, we used the Pressure Meter technology for the first time. Soon, we will release our first webisode publicly on this technology that does prove the relationship between coupling energy and pulling propulsion, showing Zane Grothe, one of the world’s fastest distance freestylers, and Margo Geer, one of America’s top female sprinters.
We are excited to share this new information with you. Hop in Lanes 2, 3 or 4 to check out the back-leg kick and enjoy our entire library of great swimming technique videos. Stay tuned!
Yours in swimming,
Gary Sr.

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Foto: Håkan Fredriksson Foto: Håkan Fredriksson

Publicerad  19 november 2018

Här lite "hyfsat enkel" biomekanik för dig som sysslar med vändningar i bröstsim och fjärilsim. Simpelt men kanske inte det man tänker på varje dag......

The Spin Turn for Butterfly and Breaststroke

When it comes to doing the fastest open turns, another law of physics (besides Newton’s Laws of Motion) comes into play. It is called the Law of Conservation of Energy.
This Law simply states that within an isolated, rotating system (like a swimmer turning on the wall), whatever amount of energy that is generated by the swimmer to make that turn happen will remain constant. The amount of the energy in that system can neither be created nor destroyed.
The amount of kinetic energy in a swimmer turning on the wall is related to the swimmer’s mass, the square of the swimmer’s angular velocity (speed of the swimmer turning around), and the square of the swimmer’s length (diameter of the turning circle).
The mass of the swimmer is fixed, at least for this one turn. Since the last two factors, angular velocity and diameter, are exponentially related to the energy determination, that means changing one will dramatically impact the other. In other words, if we shorten the diameter of the swimmer on the turn just a little, the resultant angular velocity will increase significantly, in order that the energy remains constant.
That is precisely what the spin turn does. This technique enables the swimmer to shorten his or her diameter slightly by tucking the knees under the chest more than with the vertical turns of the past. The result is an incredibly quick turn-around.
With the spin turn, rather than elevating upward against the gravitational force, the swimmer remains in a more horizontal position with hips held higher and the head held in a lower position. To make that happen, the swimmer tucks into a tighter ball and turns the head back toward the wall as the body spins around, enabling the mouth to be above water for the breath. No more ‘elbow your brother and phone your mother’, as was taught with the slower vertical turns.
For an excellent tutorial on how to do a spin open turn, hop in Lane 2 or 3 on our subscription service. In this week’s webisode, you will see Olympian Kelsi Worrell Dahlia doing a fast butterfly spin turn and some of the great drills we offer at The Race Club to help teach this fast, open turn technique.
For those that subscribe to Lane 3, this week you will also find a tough static abdominal exercise that was taught to me by one of the fastest Masters swimmers of all time, Rich Abrahams. We hope you will enjoy them.
Yours in swimming,
Gary Sr.

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Foto: Ystad Simsällskap Foto: Ystad Simsällskap

Publicerad  8 november 2018

Veckans artikel från Gary Hall innehåller en del intressanta vinklarna som också är applicerbara på svensk simning även om några av punkterna är strikt amerikanska åsikter och företeelser just i amerikansk simning.

Ten Ways to Make Swimming a Bigger and Better Sport

Part II
In 1996, shortly after the Olympic Games of Atlanta, I wrote an article that was published in Swimming World Magazine with same title as this one. In case you were wondering if you missed Part I, that was it.
Chuck Wielgus, former Executive Director of USA Swimming, once paid me a huge compliment by stating that that article in 1996 provided many of the ideas that he implemented during his 18-year tenure.
I will recap the original 10 suggestions now and provide an assessment of where we are today, some 22 years later, with new suggestions on how we might make swimming a bigger and better sport.
1.      Create a nine-month season for swimming.
 Swimming is more of a year-round sport today than ever before, so that has not happened. Yet our sport still suffers from a large incidence of burn out; swimmers that quit the sport way too early. The impetus for this suggestion was to provide some time each year for young swimmers to not look at a swimming pool and to engage in other sports; to get a mental and physical break. I still believe that would be in swimming’s best interest over the long run.
2.      The age group workout limit
 This concept of restricting both the number and duration of workouts was really designed for the 10 and under swimmers, yet might be a good idea for up to age 12 or so. The idea was to help prevent burn out, and also to help protect children from the overzealous parents that unknowingly contribute to their children’s early retirement from the sport. While this has not happened, I would say that most swimming coaches are pretty good about restricting the number and intensity of practices for children.
3.      Develop a three-hour age group meet format (one hour of warm up and two hours of competition)
 Meets are run far better today than they were then, but we still run too many of those long, tiring 3 and 4 day meets that only the most dedicated parents or swimmers can tolerate. That meet format has not helped to grow the sport. While we may need a few of those types of meets each year, the majority of meets should be quick and fun.
4.      Minimize the conflicts between swimming’s governing bodies
 The hope here was to coordinate and consolidate the seasons of school swimming programs to not conflict with the USA swimming schedule. Since the USA Swimming schedule is now year-round, that is no longer possible. School swimming seasons for high schools remain extremely variable. Collegiate swimming programs extend further than ever before, starting essentially as school begins and ending in the end of March. The biggest difference today is that the majority of our Olympic athletes today are post graduates and not affected by the school swimming schedule.
5.      Save America’s greatest resource, our swimming coaches
 The concern here was that the majority our best coaches would take collegiate jobs, where their ability to coach post graduates or coach year-round would be restricted. Fortunately, that has not happened, as some of our best collegiate coaches today include post graduate programs. In addition, we have managed to develop an abundance of incredibly capable club coaches that continue to develop the talented pool of young swimmers in America.
6.      Marketing, Marketing, Marketing
 Swimming had been and continues to be a poorly marketed sport in America. During the Michael Phelps era, the greatest Olympian of all time, membership in USA Swimming barely grew. That trend is not just in swimming. Nearly every Olympic sport has had declining membership.             The challenge is that we have a different generation of youth and parents in America; ones that are not so interested in having six dedicated days each week of training for anything, not just sports.
I believe that newly appointed CEO Tim Hinchey is on the right track in focusing on developmental swimming. Those are young swimmers that want to become proficient in swimming, but not Olympians, training once or twice each week for 45 minutes or so. That market has millions of potential members and hopefully, out of that pool of swimmers, will emerge our future Olympians that decide to go all in.
7.      Clinics, Clinics, and more Clinics
 On this point, we have done well. While there were few clinics available in 1996, today there are hundreds throughout our country every year for both swimmers and coaches. Some focus on motivation, others on training and some, like The Race Club, focus on technique. In addition, there are now online resources available to help educate swimmers, coaches, and parents. In the education department, things have improved tremendously.
8.      Capitalize on the Olympic Games
 It is curious that swimming goes from one of the most popularly viewed sports of the Olympic Games program, to a relatively obscure sport for the remaining 3 years in between. The World Championships, Commonwealth Games, Pan Pacific Championships, and all of the other major swimming competitions do not even come close to the same viewership. I am not certain what the solution is, but perhaps we have just not yet discovered the right format to show off our Olympic stars in a shorter, more digestible and entertaining competition. Out of sight, out of mind. We need to keep our Olympians in front of the camera and have people want to watch them.
9.      Recreate the international drama of the Olympic Games every year.
 It is a bit frustrating to see golf and tennis each having four major international championships every year, while swimming has one every four years. Major events take time to build, but they must be built in the right format. All of the other major swimming competitions, including World Championships, Commonwealth Games, Pan Pacific Championships, European Championships etc. are either too regionalized or too long for the Olympic Games viewers to watch. It would be nice if swimming had at least one major international competition each year that captured the Olympic Games viewer.
10.  Increase the frequency of the Olympic Games and World Championships
 In 1996, the Olympic Games and World Championships were held every four years. Today, the Olympic Games alternate every two years and there are both short course and long course World Championships. The IOC was smart to move the winter and summer Olympic Games (after 2000) to alternating two-year intervals, as viewers no longer need to wait four years to get their Olympic fix. The cost of running the Olympic Games has escalated so much, that few cities today are even capable or interested in hosting it. The solution will not be in having more frequent Olympic Games nor World Championships, but by creating sustainable, serious and entertaining international events that include the marquee names and that steadily grow in popularity.
This week, in Lanes 2-4 in our subscription, you can find great underwater video on one of the world’s fastest distance freestylers, American record holder Zane Grothe. You will also see one of our favorite drills on how to keep your head down, like Zane does so well.
Yours in swimming,
Gary Sr.

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Publicerad  6 november 2018

How to Kick Start your Race
Of the ten points we teach at The Race Club for a better start, the kick up of the back leg is perhaps the most powerful and under-utilized technique out there. Depending on the age and size of the swimmer, the leg weighs anywhere from 20-40 pounds and can form a lot of kinetic energy with the right effort.

Most swimmers and coaches concentrate on the upper body’s motions and positions for the start, but it is with the lower body that most mistakes are being made. The back leg-kick is one of the three coupling motions that can be used on the start. The other two are the head lift and the arm motion. Of the three coupling components, the legs have the most mass, so can generate a tremendous amount of kinetic energy that will augment the force of the front foot as the swimmer leaves the block.

In this week’s Race Club webisode (available to Lanes 1-4, Lane 1 is free), you will see how Olympian Brad Tandy uses a ferocious up kick to help him reach the water over .5 meters further down the pool than the other elite athletes we tested. That is a pretty significant lead, particularly in a sprint. You will also find some of the unique drills we use at The Race Club to help teach this important coupling motion.

After just a few tries with elite sprinter, Aaron Greenberg  (Yale graduate, 19.2 50 yard freestyle) and world class butterflyer, Marcus Schlesinger, both were able to improve their starts with a more aggressive kick up of the back leg. You can see how they learned this technique in the webisode this week.
For a faster start, practice kicking your back leg high into the air off the blocks. You will feel and see the difference that this important technique can make in your races.

For those of you in Lanes 3 and 4, you will find a great dryland exercise this week to help strengthen your lower back for breaststroke, another important coupling motion.

Yours in swimming,
Gary Sr

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Foto: Håkan Fredriksson Foto: Håkan Fredriksson

Publicerad 25 oktober 2018

Pulling Correctly in Backstroke
One of the most common mistakes in technique that we see in all strokes is in the pulling motion of backstroke. Part of the reason for this technical error is that to pull correctly, a swimmer needs to rotate the body significantly from one side to the other. That involves more work. To avoid that extra work, swimmers often choose to minimize the amount of body rotation. To avoid breaking the surface of the water with the hand moving backward, which reduces power, swimmers find an easier solution. Keep the arm straight on the pull.
A straight-arm pull in backstroke is worse than a deep-arm pull in freestyle. While the latter increases frontal drag, it does enable a swimmer to pull with more propulsion. In backstroke, a straight-arm pull increases frontal drag AND reduces propulsion; two good reasons to avoid this poor technique.
The key to improving your backstroke is to learn to rotate the body first. With enough body rotation, the swimmer is in a position to pull correctly and with more power. The body rotation enables a swimmer to bend the elbow enough to reduce frontal drag, while also generating important kinetic energy as a coupling motion for the pull. Our favorite swimming drill for learning this technique is the one-arm drill, with one hand held at the side. However, before the swimmer enters the water to perform this drill, we first teach them how to do the proper pulling motion on land while standing straight up. We find that once swimmers understand the biomechanics of the correct backstroke pulling motion on land, they can more easily duplicate this motion in the water. Both of these drills help the swimmers learn the important technique of rotating the body and the concept of pushing water backward, as opposed to pulling or scooping the water backward.
This week in Lanes 2-4 on our subscription service, you will find an important classroom discussion on backstroke, how this important drill is done with Race Club campers and finally, how world-class backstroker, Luca Spinazzola, uses the one-arm drill to improve his powerful backstroke pulling motion.
For those that are subscribed to Lanes 3 and 4, you will also find a beautiful webisode of world-champion backstroker, Junya Koga, simulating the correct backstroke pulling motion while.

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I veckans artikel diskuterar Gary Hall olika typer av starttekniker. Klart intressant genomgång hur det kan se ut i olika fall. I veckans artikel diskuterar Gary Hall olika typer av starttekniker. Klart intressant genomgång hur det kan se ut i olika fall.

Publicerad  18 oktober 2018

Teaching and Learning Fundamentals: Begin with Streamline

I am often asked how relatively important technique is in the sport of swimming compared to training. I believe they are equally important. Without good technique, a swimmer creates a ceiling of potential improvement, in spite of how hard they work. Having good technique without training well does not work either. A swimmer will not be able to sustain the good technique for long nor the speed of fast racing without proper training. Swimmers need both technique and training.
What is important is that good technique be learned early in a swimmer’s career. Every coach should be teaching young swimmers basic fundamentals of good technique. We live in a sport that requires extraordinary attention to detail, yet few are paying attention to that. One of the best places to start teaching fundamentals is with a great streamline.
At our Race Club Camps, it is a bit startling to see how few young swimmers either know how to streamline correctly or care enough to do so. Many of our campers leave the wall with their arms spread apart and their heads looking forward, the so-called Superman position. This week, on our Race Club webisode in Lanes 2-4, you will discover what a dramatic difference a proper streamline can make with a young ten-year old swimmer. After pushing off the wall at the same speed, the difference between the Superman position and the Hyper Streamline position, the best possible streamline a swimmer can make, is dramatic with this young swimmer.
Check out this week’s webisode in Lane 2, 3 or 4….then practice the Hyper Streamline, first on land, then, most importantly, in the water. You will immediately see the difference that this fundamental detail in technique will make in your competitive times.
Yours in swimming, Gary Hall Sr

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I veckans artikel diskuterar Gary Hall olika typer av starttekniker. Klart intressant genomgång hur det kan se ut i olika fall. I veckans artikel diskuterar Gary Hall olika typer av starttekniker. Klart intressant genomgång hur det kan se ut i olika fall.

Publicerad  12 oktober 2018
 How to Position Yourself for a Better Start
This week in Lanes 2, 3, and 4 on our subscription service you can witness in slow motion one of the most impressive starts you will ever see, that of Olympian Brad Tandy. It is a thing of beauty. Brad is an Olympic finalist in the 50-meter Olympic freestyle sprint from South Africa. While he did not medal there, he was clearly ahead of the field after the start….by a lot.
While Caeleb Dressel was not in that race, he and Brad, and perhaps Ben Proud of the UK have arguably the best starts in the world today. Curiously, they each set themselves up differently on the block to position themselves for the take your mark command. Once that happens, they each take a very similar weight back position for the beep; what I call the cocked position. The backs are rounded and the heads are down. One difference is in what they do with their arms.
Caeleb uses the most common approach. After climbing onto the block at the starter’s whistle, he positions front and back feet, then bends over and grabs the front edge corners of the block loosely with his hands. His elbows are bent and his head is down. This is the safest position to reach the cocked position as it takes the least amount of time to get there.
Ben Proud is at the other end of the spectrum. He begins from a standing position. At the command of take your mark, he must bend all the way down, grab the front of the block and then lean back. While it is true that the least amount of time that the muscle is spring loaded (in the cocked position), the better for the start, there is risk in this approach.
In the 2004 Olympic Trials Men’s 100 meter free finals, my son, Gary Jr, started from a stand and did not even get his hands on the block before the beep went off. The result was he was last off the block and missed earning a spot to swim in Athens by a few hundredths of a second. In my opinion, starting from the standing position entails too much risk. You never know when you will have a fast starter.
Brad’s approach is in the middle. After positioning his front and back feet on the block, he bends down until his hands are just below his knees. From that position, he doesn’t have as far to go to grab the front of the block, nor does he take as much time as from a stand. The result is that he is in the cocked position for less time, without taking so much risk.
Brad and Ben both lock their arms straight to the front of the block, with no bend in the elbows. Caeleb bends his elbows slightly. Last week we tested an elite male swimmer from Croatia, with arms locked straight and with elbows bent slightly, to determine which way works best.
We will share the outcome of that study soon in one of our upcoming webisodes. In the meantime, on this week’s webisode, you can see Brad’s amazing start and hear his explanation of why he sets himself the way he does prior to the start. You will love this webisode.
Yours in swimming,
Gary Sr.

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Alexander Popov - foto: Rolex Alexander Popov - foto: Rolex

Publicerad  3 oktober 2018
 Technology in Swimming part II
While technology is extremely important to the advancement and progress of swimming, we need to be very careful about how we use this new information. If the tests are not done properly, if the data is not collected accurately, if the data is misinterpreted or misunderstood, it will no longer be of any value. In fact, it can hurt us by giving us wrong information or advice.

For example, in an article written in Russia about Alex Popov in the 90’s, when he was Czar of the sprints, the author demonstrated that the velocity of Alex was greatest when one hand was out in front and the other hand was nearing the end of the pulling cycle. The author erroneously concluded that there must be more propulsion at the end of the pulling cycle than in the middle, leading coaches all over the world to teach swimmers to push the hand hard backward at the end of the freestyle pull. In fact, the increase in Popov's velocity was not derived from increased propulsion at the end of the pull but rather from the increase in propulsion in the middle of the pull followed by a reduction of frontal drag as the arms took on a more linear position with the body.

Recently, Triton, a Canadian manufacturer of wearable technology that provides loads of information to coaches, included a Stroke Index, which they claim determines how efficient a swimmer is in a given stroke. Although this index is meant to be well intended, it may actually be misleading.

The Stroke Index (SI) is defined as a swimmer’s velocity ( V = m/sec) times his/her distance per stroke (not cycle) (DPS = m/stroke). SI = V x DPS. While we understand DPS is important and V is the ultimate goal, here are the problems I have with the Triton Stroke Index.
First, the SI is not a measure of stroke efficiency. Physiological efficiency of any stroke is measured in the same way we measure efficiency of a car (miles per gallon), except we use meters/Kcalories burned. While efficiency may be important, no driver wins an auto race with great gas mileage, nor do swimmers win swimming races with the highest efficiency. They both expect to burn a lot of gas or calories in order to get the job done. The challenge of measuring efficiency of a swimmer is that it is not easy to measure the precise number of Calories expended during a race. But who really cares? We want to know who wins, not who burned the least number of calories.

Mechanical efficiency is based on having the lowest fluctuation in velocity, which may have little to do with the SI. It has more to do with law of inertia.
When we analyze the Stroke Index further, this is what we find. A swimmer’s velocity (V) is equal to the DPS (m/stoke) times the Stroke Rate (SR) (strokes/sec). Therefore, SI = DPS x DPS x SR or DPS ² x SR.

What the SI does is give more weight to DPS than to SR. Yet, when determining V, the ultimate goal of a swimmer, the SR and DPS have equal weight. V = SR x DPS.
As an example, let’s say Sun Yang is battling against Ryan Cochrane in a 1500 m freestyle race. Sun uses a hip driven freestyle and has a stroke rate of 60, while Ryan uses shoulder driven technique with a SR of 86. If we assume they are swimming at the same speed, that means Sun Yang’s DPS is significantly greater than Ryan’s. The reason may be because of the longer wing span resulting in more arm propulsion, the two strong surge kicks that he uses in each stroke cycle, more energy on his coupling motions (body rotation and arm recovery), lower frontal drag or some combination of all of those. The point is that since the SI is derived from the square of DPS only, Sun Yang will have a higher SI value than Ryan. Yet they are swimming at about the same speed. If one were to compare the SI value between Sun Yang and Gregorio Paltrinieri, who swims the 1500 at around a 96 stroke rate, the difference would be even greater.

Without being able to measure calories burned, it is not clear to me which of these three different freestyle techniques is more efficient, since the stroke rates and the kicking rates and intensities are quite different. The differences in SI values does not necessarily reflect efficiency.

The SI places an unfair advantage on DPS, which will be higher in hip driven or hybrid freestyle technique than with shoulder driven technique. No elite swimmer uses hip driven freestyle in the 50 m sprint nor the 100 m and nearly all elite women use shoulder driven freestyle for all distances.
If one wanted to use the SI as a means to exaggerate the differences between good and poor technique, then a better idea would be the following equation: SI = V x DPS x SR or SI = DPS ² x SR ² or SI = V ². I’m not certain that this is necessary nor helpful, but would hopefully help prevent coaches from trying to convert their swimmers to hip driven freestyle or slow stroke rate backstroke or long, gliding breaststroke or butterfly, which they might do with the SI as currently defined. I would say that Caeleb Dressel, Adam Peaty, Lilly King and virtually all elite backstrokers that generally use fast stroke rates would not be happy with the current SI.
Yours in Swimming,
Gary Sr.

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Kelsi Worell-Dahlia foto: Swim Vortex Kelsi Worell-Dahlia foto: Swim Vortex

Publicerad 21 september 2018
Two New Ways to Improve your Dolphin Kick
Kelsi Worrell (Dahlia) has a very fast dolphin kick. After studying her Velocity Meter recently, I now understand why. While kicking on the stomach, poor dolphin kickers will have just one moment of significant acceleration during the dolphin kick cycle, which occurs at the beginning of the strong down kick. Most good dolphin kickers typically have two moments of acceleration during the dolphin kick cycle; one at the beginning of the down kick and the other at the beginning of the up kick. Kelsi has four points of acceleration; two at the beginnings of the up and down kicks, and two more as her feet pass through the body’s vortex or slipstream on the way up and on the way down.
The flow dynamics behind the swimmer are very different than in front of the swimmer, due to the vortices (wakes) or slipstreams that form behind the body and feet. Talented swimmers like Kelsi have learned to use these vortices to their advantage. Because the human body has a non-streamlined shape, a swimmer will form a vortex, or a small stream of water that flows behind him or her in the direction he or she is swimming.  If you have ever left 2 seconds behind a swimmer in a lane and remain close to his or her feet, you certainly understand the concept of drafting, or riding the slipstream. The bigger the swimmer’s body and the faster he or she is moving, the bigger and stronger the vortex or slipstream becomes.
There is second vortex that occurs during the dolphin kick and that is from the motion of the feet as they move up, down, or forward through the water from one side of the body to the other. Since the feet are smaller than the body, this second vortex is also smaller, yet it is extremely important in the acceleration that occurs at the beginnings of the down kick and the up kick.
During the down and up kicks, the feet are moving mostly straight down or straight up. There is almost no movement backward of the feet relative to a stationary point in the pool. Because of the two vortices of the feet and body creating a forward-moving stream, the feet are able to create propulsion as they traverse the slipstreams caused by both of them. The amount of the swimmer’s acceleration and ultimately, his or her velocity, depends very much on the speed and surface area when the feet move through these vortices. By moving the feet quickly and aggressively through these vortices, a swimmer can actually speed up, rather than slow down, and keep his or her speed more constant.
Here are two really important ways you can improve the speed of your dolphin kick:
1)    On the initiation of the down kick, snap the feet down very aggressively, but don’t stop there. Continue the force and speed of the feet until they pass through the body vortex (horizontal line behind the swimmer)
2)    On the initiation of the up kick, pull the feet and legs up aggressively, but don’t stop pulling until the feet pass through the body vortex (horizontal line behind the swimmer)
Once the feet pass through the body’s slipstream, and the legs extend beyond the horizontal position in either direction, bad things begin to happen. You will start to slow down. In the next article, we will tell you how to minimize the damage from deceleration at that point.
Yours in swimming,
Gary Sr.

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Gary Hall Sr på ASCA-clinic, Annaheim förra veckan. foto: Mikael Björklund Gary Hall Sr på ASCA-clinic, Annaheim förra veckan. foto: Mikael Björklund

Publicerad 13 september 2018
Which Comes First, the Smile or the Fast Swim?

A fast swim by either male or female swimmers will nearly always result in a big smile. It should. A tremendous amount of work, thought, and time went into that swim. It is clearly a time to celebrate and enjoy the moment. But which came first, the good swim or the smile?

At The Race Club camps, we spend quite a bit of time on mental training. Arguably, mental training is the most under-utilized type of training in swimming. Yet it is so vitally important in determining outcomes. We outline five important processes that should occur during the course of the season in order for the swimmer to be in the mentally toughest state of mind at the championship meet. We call that climbing the killer instinct scale.
Perhaps the most important step in that process happens upon wakening for the first day of competition. Those first few moments of that first day will set the tone for the swimming performances on the first day. Those performances then often set the tone for the swimming performances throughout the remainder of the meet.

What we tell each Race Club swimmer to do on that first morning is to look into the mirror and smile. I am not talking about that fake or plasticky smile. I am talking about the real thing. Along with that genuine smile, we ask the swimmers to make a promise to themselves that they will have fun. That’s right. Make a pact with yourself that you will enjoy the competition. You will embrace it.

Of all the years that I watched my son, Gary Jr, perform in championship meets, I only offered him two words of advice, have fun. And he did. I could see the smile on his face as he would walk out to the starting block for the race; a look of supreme confidence. I could tell then that he was going to enjoy this moment, and swim fast.
Way too often, sadly, we see a look of terror on the athlete’s face. The Olympic Trials is known for making that look happen. Warming up in the lane next to Katie Ledecky or Caeleb Dressel in
one of the biggest meets of your life can do that to you. Once you allow that fear to enter the mind, the meet goes from being fun to…..well, not so fun. The swim performances go from great…to not so great.

I believe that one of the biggest reasons that Team USA performed so well in the 2012 Olympic Games of London is because they created a fun, lip-synched version of the hit song, Call me Maybe. It seemed to lighten up the entire moment. It put the event back into the proper perspective…a swim meet, not life and death. Even the Olympic Games can be fun if you make it that way.

I say start with the smile. Embrace the competition with all of its challenges. Enjoy the moment. After all, you’ve worked really hard for it. You might as well swim fast, not slow. So just tell yourself to have fun and smile. If you do, chances are good that after your swim, you’ll be smiling again.

Delar av Ben-Hur teknologin som beskrivs i veckans artikel. Delar av Ben-Hur teknologin som beskrivs i veckans artikel.

Publicerad 6 september 2018
Technology in Swimming
It is an exciting time in the sport of swimming with respect to technology advancement. Many new companies providing hardware (devices) and software have emerged to help coaches improve. Companies like CoachCam, Swim Hero, Firebelly, and Triton just to name a few. They have developed really great tools to help us and provide more important data than ever before. BMW is working with USA Swimming in Colorado Springs to develop new video/analytical software. That is all good news.

The bad news is who has the time to compile all of the new data, analyze it, and perhaps most challenging, interpret how this information should improve a swimmer’s technique or performance? Unless there is a full time IT person on the staff, most coaches simply don’t have the time to coach, administer, and do all of that analysis for every swimmer’s races in each meet. That is a huge burden.
For this reason, we believe there will be an increasing demand for technical coaches or assistants, those that make it a point to analyze and understand data and in turn, provide meaningful and helpful recommendations for a swimmer’s improvement. That is what we do at The Race Club, particularly when it comes to technique.

At The Race Club, we go well beyond simply analyzing a swimmer’s race, including: stroke rates, distance per stroke, breakout times, breathing patterns, splits, turn times etc. We have invested in some new and exciting technology from Italy (AP Labs), called Velocity Meter (VM), that measures a swimmer’s velocity, acceleration, and deceleration at each .02 seconds during the stroke cycle. Synchronized to a swimmer’s video, we can then determine peak and trough velocities, differences between peak and trough velocities for both arms (delta PT) or for pull and kick, and peak and trough accelerations and decelerations. Since most of this data is new to our sport, it has taken months to understand what data is normal or expected for a given swimmer, depending on gender, age, stroke, and technique. More important than a visual interpretation of what we believe is right or wrong through video analysis, the VM quantitates the severity of mistakes (frontal drag) with trough deceleration points, and gives us an idea of the magnitude of propulsion forces with peak acceleration levels.

Another technology that we are using at The Race Club from AP Labs is called Ben Hur, or what we refer to as the Drag/Propulsion Meter. This technology enables us to quantitate propulsive forces, active drag coefficients, and passive drag forces at each .04 seconds of the stroke cycle, synchronized to video. Most of these measurements have rarely been done, other than in research, but are now available to any swimmer at our Florida Keys location.

This month we will start using another new technology from AP Labs called a Pressure Meter, which measures the pressure (force per unit area) on the front and back of the hand throughout the pulling motion. This will enable us to determine how well a swimmer can really hold water with the pulling motion. Using a gyroscope, it can also measure the swimmer’s body acceleration in all directions and the angular or rotational velocity. Rotational velocity is a strong coupling motion, so we look forward to quantitating this important technique. This is also new information to the sport, so we will learn as we go.

Many of the new articles and videos that we feature in our new subscription service in Lanes 2, 3, and 4 have their basis in the information we derive from this new technology. We are excited to offer these to you.
Next week I am honored to be speaking for 5 hours at the ASCA World Clinic on some of the new technology of swimming and how it can help us become better coaches and produce faster swimmers. I look forward to the opportunity to share what I have learned and hope to see you in Anaheim!

Yours in swimming,
Gary Sr.

Publicerad 31 augusti 2018
Part IV: Inertia
Newton’s law of inertia, which was originally defined by Galileo, is also important for swimmers to understand. Basically, inertia simply means that objects (swimmers) that are at rest tend to stay at rest and objects (swimmers) that are moving tend to stay moving, unless they are acted on by external forces.
In order for a swimmer to go from the rest state (taking your mark on the starting block or getting ready to push off the wall) to the moving state (gliding or swimming down the pool), external forces must be applied. Whether that force comes from our legs (feet) pushing us off the starting block or wall or our hands and feet propelling us down the pool, once we start moving, unless we are in a vacuum or outer space, frontal drag forces will start to slow us down. That means in order to keep moving, we must continue applying propulsion.

If the propulsion and drag forces are equal, our speed will remain constant. If the propulsion is greater than the drag forces, we will accelerate. If the drag forces are greater than the propulsion, we will decelerate. As difficult as it is for us to maintain a constant speed in swimming, it requires more work or energy for us to reach our maximum speed from a rested position (dead stop) than it does to maintain that speed. Consider when you completely miss the wall on a flip turn in a race and come to a dead stop. The amount of energy required to get back up to race speed is overwhelming. The race is probably over. Similar to the difference in gas mileage we get in our car while driving in town (stop and go) compared to on the freeway (constant speed), the swimmer will use less energy maintaining a more constant speed than he or she will by repeatedly slowing down or stopping and then speeding up again. Swimming at a more constant speed is simply a more efficient way to swim.

The challenge of swimmers conforming to the law of inertia is that with the nature of our propulsion, coming from the hands and feet and at certain intervals of time, we cannot provide a constant propulsion. Only two of the four stroke, freestyle and backstroke, allow us to come close to maintaining constant speed. Breaststroke and butterfly, due to the longer down time
(time between propulsion efforts) and the higher drag coefficients we must create at certain times in the stroke cycle, are fraught with a considerable variation in speed. Therefore, these two strokes are either slower (breaststroke) or require more energy to sustain a higher average speed (butterfly).
How do we conform more to the law of inertia while swimming and maintain a more constant speed? There are only three ways that I know of, regardless of the stroke. First, we can sustain a more constant kicking speed. Since the kick provides potentially more propulsive moments than the pull, using a six-beat kick, emphasizing both the down and up kicks, and creating a shorter kicking cycle time will help.

Second, we can increase our pulling stroke rate. In freestyle, fly, and backstroke, each hand spends about .35 seconds during the propulsion phase of the pull. If our stroke rate is 60 (cycle rate of 30 and cycle time 2.0 seconds), then in free and back, 35% of the cycle time is spent in propulsion (.70/2.0). The remaining time of the pull is either spent in lift, release, or recovery, so called down time. In fly, at a 2.0 second cycle time, only 18% of that time would be spent in propulsion. The propulsion is greater, however, since we are pulling with both hands simultaneously. At a stroke rate of 120 (60 cycle rate or 1.0 second cycle time), 70% of the time would be spent in propulsion. In fly at that cycle rate, 35% of the time is spent in propulsion. The higher the stroke rate, the more percentage of time is spent in propulsion. The less down time there is in the pull, the less time there is for the swimmer’s speed to drop. However, if the stroke rate becomes too fast, other factors may change, such as lower propulsion achieved with the pulling arm, increased frontal drag or diminished coupling motions, any of which can lead to lower velocity of the swimmer. Faster stroke rate is not always better.

Third, we can avoid any of the technical errors that lead to dramatically increased drag coefficients. The frontal drag of the human body at race speed is extremely sensitive to minute changes in our shape. Even the smallest mistakes can lead to significant drops in speed. For example, lifting the head too high, pulling too deep, overbending the knees on the kick, leaving a thumb out on the streamline off the wall, etc. can all lead to precipitous drops in speed.
In summary, by paying attention to the techniques that enable our speed to remain more constant, we will swim more efficiently in all four strokes. We will conform better to the law of inertia.

Yours in swimming,
Gary Sr.

foto: Håkan Fredriksson foto: Håkan Fredriksson

Publicerad 23 augusti 2018

Freestyle Head Position: Tilted Forward vs Down?
Which way is right? The controversy over this subject has been ongoing for a long time. In elite competition we see both heads tilted forward and heads down in freestyle…yet they both can’t be right. So which one is better?
 Finally, a study we did with Olympic champion Jimmy Feigen sheds some significant light on the answer to this ongoing controversy. Jimmy was tested with a velocity meter while swimming at 100-meter race pace for about 20 meters distance, first with the head down. Then again, with the head tilted slightly forward. Here is what we found.
The head down position resulted in an average velocity of .02 m/sec faster than with the head tilted forward. Doesn’t sound like a lot, but over a 50 second hundred-meter race, that is one meter further behind with the head tilted forward than with the head down. That is enough to win or lose a race.
There is more to the story, however. There is a significant amount of additional work involved with one of these techniques. To find out, you will need to go to Lanes 2, 3 or 4 on our new subscription service and check out the video which was just released. There you will find out which technique generates more propulsion and which technique causes more frontal drag.
As far as I am concerned, the debate is over. I hope you will enjoy this new webisode featuring Olympian Jimmy Feigen.
 Yours in swimming, Gary Sr.

James E. "Doc" Counsilman  December 28, 1920 – January 04, 2004 - kanske den störste av dem alla bakom simningen - foto: Indiana University James E. "Doc" Counsilman December 28, 1920 – January 04, 2004 - kanske den störste av dem alla bakom simningen - foto: Indiana University

Publicerad 15 augusti 2018

To be a Great Coach, be Inquisitive.

Historically, some of the greatest coaches in the sport of swimming were also the most inquisitive. They never stopped questioning. Understanding that they were far from having all of the answers to get swimmers faster, they constantly challenged the hierarchy, the establishment. Often they would try out new ideas, whether on technique or training, experimenting, or trying to find a better way. Usually, they turned to be right, but not always. It was their willingness to change, to push the envelope, whether right or wrong, that forged our sport ahead.
I have been blessed to have known or swam under some of the pioneer coaches. Some were very science-based, like Doc Counsilman. Others, like Mike Bottom, were more artistic and creative. Doc never stopped thinking or questioning or reading or learning. I never knew a man who knew so much about so many different subjects. While his doctorate was in physiology, he knew a great deal about physics, kinesiology, psychology, art, opera, music, and just about any other subject you could bring up. Yet he never spoke with a ‘know it all’ attitude. He could speak to anyone on a level that she or he could readily understand and relate to; a rare gift.

Mike is more of a creative, artistic coach. Every day at workout, he will shoot from the hip, changing up a planned workout, experimenting with a new set or drill that might get his swimmers faster. Part of his strategy was to prevent boredom, keeping his workouts unpredictable, and part was to figure out a better way to swim faster. He always welcomed new ideas coming from his swimmers or staff and implemented them well.

Nort Thornton, the great coach from Cal, was another inquisitive coach. He never stopped reading and learning, trying out new ideas every season. Nort was a deep thinker, very intelligent, always questioning the establishment.
Flip Darr, coach of myself, Shirley Babashoff, the Furniss brothers, and many other Olympians, was an unconventional, out-of-the box coach. It seemed like every season, Flip would show up to practice with a new toy he had developed for training; homemade hand paddles, surgical tubing for resistance training or whatever he could think of to torture us in a different way.

Don Gambril (Pasadena, Long Beach, Harvard, Alabama), Peter Daland (USC), Eddie Reese (Texas), Dick Jochums (Long Beach, Arizona, Santa Clara), Skip Kenney (Stanford), and David Marsh (Auburn, Swim Mac, UCSD) were/are also very deep thinking coaches. All have or had inquisitive minds that never stopped questioning how we do things.

We are fortunate to be in a sport where coaches share information willingly. There are no secrets, just undiscovered information. It is acceptable and advisable to copy the best coaches, but never assume that they have all of the answers. They don’t. They never will.

To be a great coach, learn from the best and copy others, but keep questioning. Stay inquisitive.

Yours in swimming,
Gary Sr.

Publicerad 1 augusti foto: Håkan Fredriksson Publicerad 1 augusti foto: Håkan Fredriksson

Publicerad 26 juli 2018

Proper Head Position in Backstroke
The head position in backstroke should change throughout the stroke cycle. There are two reasons most swimmers are more comfortable swimming backstroke with their heads held too high, a position I often refer to as ‘reading in bed’. First, a backstroker with the head held high has more awareness of where he/she is in the lane. Slamming into a lane line can be a disastrous and painful complication of swimming backstroke, so holding the head up high helps to avoid that problem. Second, swimmers are more powerful in the ‘sitting up’ position than they are when the head is back, so they can generate more propulsion.

The real problem with swimming backstroke with the head held too high is from the increase in frontal drag caused from this position. When the head elevates, the hips and legs sink. Not only does the swimmer increase surface drag with the head up and out of the water, but also pressure drag, by not keeping the body horizontal. In swimming, frontal drag forces are so powerful, even at relatively slow speeds, that the increase in propulsion from keeping the head elevated is not enough to overcome the additional frontal drag. While laying the head back may lessen the frontal drag, keeping the head back all the time is not a good idea, either. The truth is that in backstroke, you can have your cake and eat it, too.

Head back for less drag
The key to a successful backstroke is getting the head up at the right time and getting it back at the right time. It doesn’t need to move far in either direction, but it does need to move. Like in freestyle, at the fastest point in the stroke cycle, the surge point, the head should lay back so the drag is lowered. Unlike freestyle, we actually get to see the bow wave pass over our face, since our eyes are now looking upward. The surge point in backstroke should occur just after one hand enters the water, timed with the surge kick. At that moment, a slight trickle of water should pass over the surface of the swimmer’s face (goggles). Being just millimeters under water at that important point is enough to reduce drag considerably.

Head up for more power
Once the hand begins the generate propulsion on its way backward, the head needs to elevate to put the swimmer in a more favorable biomechanical position of strength. The swimmer also needs to elevate the head for the breath. This is a more powerful position.
Backstrokers need both

Most swimmers are good at elevating their heads because they like to know where they (and their competitors) are in the lane and race. They also like the feeling of more power that comes from that position. What they are not good at is getting the head back for the surge point. With each stroke cycle, the head should elevate slightly during the propulsion phase and lay back for the surge point. In effect, the swimmer should do a mini-crunch while swimming backstroke all the way down the pool.

At fast stroke rates, which is a good idea in backstroke, the swimmer may not have time to get the head up and back down for each arm pull. Doing so once per stroke cycle, rather than twice, becomes necessary. For example, the swimmer may come up with the head for a breath on the left arm recovery and lay the head back once the right hand strikes the water.
Since getting the head back far enough seems to be the biggest challenge in backstroke, this week we share one of our favorite drills for accomplishing this goal. You can check it out in Lanes 2, 3, or 4 on our website.

Yours in swimming,
Gary Sr.

Publicerad 26 juli 2018

Three Great Tips for a Faster Butterfly

Butterfly is a challenging stroke. It is the most difficult to perform and sustain over any moderate distance. The reason is that it doesn’t conform well to the law of inertia, and, therefore, requires more energy. Nearly all of the propulsion in butterfly comes at two key points in the stroke cycle coinciding with the down kicks. The first down kick occurs as the hands are pushing backward under the body, somewhere toward the end of the pull. The second down kick should be timed to coincide with the entry of the recovering arms into the water.

In between these two points of acceleration is lots of down time, where there is little or no propulsion and the velocity of the body slows down. As a result, the swimmer has to work harder to get the velocity back up, leading to less efficiency than in freestyle or backstroke, for example.
Here are three key techniques for developing a faster butterfly.

1. Develop a stronger kick
Butterfly, along with breaststroke, is a very kick-dependent stroke. Without a strong kick, butterfly simply doesn’t work well. While the two down kicks in each stroke cycle need to be strong, the up kicks are also important in order to maintain a higher velocity. The strength of the down kick, without causing excessive frontal drag, is dependent on having extreme ‘pigeon-toed’ plantar flexibility, and not overbending the knees (around 60 degrees). It also requires much strength and stamina in the quadriceps femoris muscles. A strong up kick depends on flexing the hip to around 30 degrees, having plantar flexibility, and having strong lower back, hamstring, and calf muscles.

2. Don’t over-elevate the shoulders for the breath
With a front breath, it is very common to see swimmers elevate the shoulders higher out of the water than is really necessary. While higher elevation of the body increases the coupling energy for the second down kick, it also causes a lot more frontal drag. The trade-off is not worth it.
The loss of velocity caused by the more vertical position of the body is too hard to overcome. Some elevation of the shoulders is absolutely necessary in order to breathe and recover the arms, but keep it minimal by extending the neck forward with the mouth barely above the surface for the breath.

3. Emphasize the two coupling motions
There are two powerful coupling motions available in butterfly to use to increase the propulsion from the second down kick. One is the arm recovery and the second is the downward motion of the head (and upper body). By straightening and accentuating the speed of the recovering arms, the kinetic energy of this motion increases dramatically. By delaying the head snapping down after the breath to coincide with the entry of the hands into the water, this approximately 12 pounds of mass can also help strengthen the second down kick. The result of using both of these well-timed coupling motions together is a huge surge of velocity from the second down kick that often exceeds the velocity achieved from the first kick and pull together. That is power!

Over the next few weeks, you will find some excellent videos in Lanes 2, 3 and 4 on our website highlighting the classroom, techniques, and technology for a better butterfly. We hope you will hop on in!

Yours in Swimming,
Gary Sr.

foto: Peter Trägårdh foto: Peter Trägårdh

Publicerad 16 juli 2018

Our 3 Favorite Drills for High Elbow Pull

In every event over the 50 meter sprint, virtually every elite distance freestyler in the world is pulling with the elbows held very close to the surface, as the hand pushes backward in the water. This motion is neither natural nor easy to accomplish, yet for any event longer than 50 meters, this is the pulling motion you need to achieve in order to swim faster.
The reason is not that this motion generates more propulsion. In fact, it probably generates less propulsion than a deeper pull. It reduces the frontal drag caused by the upper arm in the underwater pulling motion. It does so by keeping the upper arm more in line with the motion of the body during the early part of the pull. Later in the pull, when the upper arm is sticking out to the side, in a more drag-causing position, the net forward velocity of the upper arm is reduced because the upper arm is swept backward more quickly. The frontal drag caused by any part of the human body is profoundly influenced by its forward velocity.
We spend a great deal of effort at The Race Club making sure that every camper gets this motion right. Of all the techniques we teach in freestyle, we consider using the correct high-elbow pulling motion for all events over 100 meters to be the numbers 1, 2, and 3 on our priority list. In other words, you had better get it right.
These are our favorite three drills that we like to use to teach this freestyle technique. All three drills are improved by wearing fins. Snorkels are optional on the first drill, but very helpful to almost essential for the second and third drills.

1. One Arm Swim. With one hand held at the side, swim freestyle with one arm only. Use one arm for the first half and the other arm for the second half of the swim. Usually we like to go no more than 50 meters, so we can make the necessary corrections. The hand of the pulling arm should enter directly in front of the shoulder, not over the head. Once the hand enters the arm is extended forward while the body rotates to the opposite
side as far as possible. The opposite shoulder should be well out of the water. The hand begins its motion downward just inside the elbow, before pushing backward. The elbow should remain one inch under the surface of the water. As the hand begins to pull, the body counter-rotates toward the pulling arm to generate more coupling energy.
Swimming with one arm at a time enables the swimmer to concentrate on the precise movement of each pull. Small sculling paddles will also enhance this drill.

2. High Elbow Scull. This is a more challenging drill that can also be done as a workout set. It is preferable to do it with a snorkel. The head is down and swimmer flutter kicks across the pool. The arms are held out in front, but the forearms are dropped down to an angle of about 45 degrees with the water, while the elbows point forward. Holding the upper arm still, the hand and forearm scull directly outward and directly inward with a stiff wrist and strong force, like you are playing an accordion. This motion engages the muscles surrounding the scapula in particular; the same ones that initiate the high elbow pulling motion.
Try doing a set of 20 x 25 High Elbow Sculls, kicking as fast as possible, on 30 seconds. Keep your elbows pointing forward. You will really feel the burn in the scapula muscles.

3. Snap Paddle Drill. This drill is designed to help with the initiation of the correct high elbow pulling motion. Often, we see swimmers attempt the high elbow pulling motion by initiating the pull with an out sweep of the hand. This is a bad idea, as this technique will reduce propulsion and increase frontal drag. With this drill the swimmer flutter kicks with the head down and arms extended forward. The high elbow pull is initiated by pressing downward with one hand and forearm, the other held in front, while keeping both elbows near the surface. The hand always remains just inside the elbow, not outside. Instead of taking a complete pull, the motion is stopped once the hand reaches the swimmer’s chin under water and then recovers back to the front while remaining under water, similar to a dog-paddle motion. In effect the swimmer is making a small quick circle with each hand and forearm, keeping the elbows pointed forward. Once the swimmer masters this technique, we add body rotation to the same drill and motion to impress how important this coupling energy is in generating more propulsion.
To help you learn to do these drills correctly, you can subscribe to Lanes 2, 3 or 4 on our Race Club website. In the coming weeks we will feature a webisode demonstrating each of these important drills for the correct pulling motion. By subscribing, you will receive a new webisode and article from The Race Club each week.
Yours in Swimming,
Gary Sr.

(gå gärna vidare till the Race Clubs hemsida - via länken ovan i texten)

foto: Peter Trägårdh foto: Peter Trägårdh

Publicerad 16 juli 2018

Two Great Pearls for a Faster Backstroke
The fundamentals of backstroke are the same as for freestyle. However, the priority of those fundamentals differ for backstroke and there are certain nuances of backstroke that differ from freestyle.
Of all four strokes, backstroke is not the fastest stroke, but it is the most efficient stroke. That means that there is less change of speed in backstroke than in any other stroke. There are two principal reasons for that. First, the coupling of the body rotation comes at the very end of the pulling motion, which is the weaker part of the pull, as opposed to the stronger middle of the pull in freestyle. The result is the propulsive force of the arm pull remains more constant in backstroke.
The second reason that the velocity of the backstroker is more uniform has to do with the kick. When a swimmer is on his or her stomach, the down kick is typically much more propulsive than the up kick. However, when on the back, the weaker down kick becomes very propulsive because the foot pushes down against a larger vortex and gravity helps assist in the downward motion of the foot. As a result, the propulsive forces of the down and up kicks become much more even and the resultant velocity is more constant.
When it comes to taking advantage of these two nuances of backstroke, here are two important pearls in your technique that will help.
1)      On the backstroke arm recovery, throw the arm and hand hard to the water. Accentuating the speed of the hand entry on the recovery also has the effect of accentuating the body rotation. This will help maintain the swimmer’s speed toward the end of the pulling motion.

2)      Work the down kick hard on backstroke. During both the underwater dolphin kick and the backstroke, it is very important to press downward vigorously with the sole or bottom of the foot to take advantage of the large vortex formed from the stronger up kick. If a swimmer does this, he or she can get more propulsion and speed from the weaker down kick than from the stronger up kick. This downward motion of the feet will also help keep the swimmer’s speed more constant.
This week our Race Club members in Lane 2 will get classroom instruction on how the fundamentals of backstroke differ from those of freestyle. Race Club members in lane 3 will see a great dryland technique from world champion Junya Koga on how to teach swimmers the proper backstroke pulling motion. You can hop in one of our Race Club lanes here.
Yours in Swimming,
Gary Sr.

(gå gärna vidare till the Race Clubs hemsida - via länken ovan i texten)

Sarah Sjöström - världsrekordhållare i fjärilsim Sarah Sjöström - världsrekordhållare i fjärilsim

Publicerad 28 juni 2018

More on the Dolphin Kick

I continue to learn more about this fascinating motion in the water and what makes it work well….or not so well for swimmers. Like all other swimming techniques, fast dolphin kick requires certain tools in order to do well. The three most notable tools for dolphin kick are extreme plantar ankle flexibility, leg and lower back strength for knee and hip extension, and incredible leg fitness to sustain a motion that has no significant rest or recovery phase.
Beyond having the tools, however, I have learned by studying some of the fastest dolphin kickers in the world, like Kelsi Worrell, that there are nuances to the dolphin kick motion that can make it work better. Although few athletes use all of them, there are actually four different points during the dolphin kicking cycle that an athlete can potentially accelerate. That means that the propulsion forces are greater than the frontal drag forces.
Using the Vortex
The first and often the most powerful point of acceleration is at the beginning of the down kick. The down kick is biomechanically stronger than the up kick, so a lot of propulsion can be achieved here. The second point of potential acceleration is when the foot passes through the slipstream or vortex of the swimmer’s body (located directly behind the swimmer) on the way down. The third point of acceleration can occur at the beginning of the up kick, and the fourth as the foot passes through the slipstream on the way back up.
The majority of swimmers do not get acceleration at all four of these points, but Kelsi does. That effectively keeps her speed more constant, which according to the law of inertia, makes her more efficient. Many dolphin kickers will get acceleration only from the strong down kick, which leads to large variations in speed and greater inefficiency.
Reduce your deceleration
There are also two important points during the kicking cycle when the swimmers will decelerate (drag is greater than propulsion). How much they decelerate depends very much on the technique that is being used. The first, and often most harmful, is when the legs are drawn forward and knees bend in preparation for the down kick. The speed at which the legs are drawn forward and the degree that the knee bends have a huge impact on the amount of deceleration that will occur.
The second point of deceleration occurs during the down kick, after the feet pass through the body’s vortex. The amount of deceleration here depends greatly on how long and how much the feet are left hanging before the next up kick is taken and how much flexion occurs at the hip. Deceleration is always followed by a loss of speed. The further the speed drops, the harder it becomes to get it back up again.
Practice these motions
In order to maximize the acceleration and top speed and minimize the deceleration and loss of speed, here is what needs to happen. The feet must be pigeon-toed and snapped down hard at the beginning of the down kick and drawn up aggressively at the beginning of the up kick. Then the feet and legs must push hard through the vortex and abruptly slow down and reverse directions once they pass the vortex. That is a tall order. It is like telling someone to floor it on the gas pedal and to slam on the brakes a second later over and over again.
The challenge in achieving this motion occurs when a swimmer doesn’t have enough plantar flexibility in the ankles. Then, in order to get more propulsion on the down kick, the feet have to be drawn further forward, knees bending more than 60 degrees. That means the legs have to be drawn forward more aggressively in order to get the down kick in time…and more deceleration occurs. You can see now why the ankle flexibility is the key to the entire dolphin kick working.
Start to improve your dolphin kick by working on your plantar ankle flexibility. Without that, we have a serious problem. Then work hard. not only at the beginning of the down kick, but during the start of up kick, too. Continue the speed of the feet through the vortex, but once they pass the horizontal position, think about reversing directions as soon and as forcefully as you can. Do all this and who knows, you may become the next Kelsi Worrell. At the very least, you will dolphin kick faster.

This week in Lanes 2, 3 and 4, you will find one of the most interesting webisodes we have ever produced. In it you will see how Kelsi Worrell and Luca Spinazolla, two very fast dolphin kickers, take advantage of the two important vortices to generate great propulsion.

Yours in swimming,
Gary Sr.

(gå gärna vidare till the Race Clubs hemsida - via länken ovan i texten)

Publicerad 20 juni 2018

Physics for Swimmers, Coaches and Parents

Outside of the starts and turns, the propulsion forces of a swimmer are derived purely from the kick and the pull. More specifically, except for the up kick, where the entire lower leg and foot can create propulsion, nearly all of the other propulsive forces (down kick and pull) occur at the feet and hands.
In addition, the propulsion from the kick and pull can be influenced by other motions of our body that produce no propulsion at all. These are called coupling motions. Two examples of coupling motions in freestyle are the rotation of the body and the recovery of the arm over the water. Neither motion produces any propulsion by itself, but when timed or coupled with a propulsive pull or kick, either motion can make either force greater. High energy coupling motions can significantly increase the propulsion of a swimmer in all four strokes, as well as on the start.
The propulsion of a swimmer that is derived from the hands and feet differ in that the hands are moving through water that is essentially still (static fluid), while the feet are moving through water that is flowing (dynamic fluid). Some understanding of fluid mechanics is therefore necessary to understand how propulsion is achieved within these two different environments.
Since water is liquid, not solid, in order to create propulsion, the hand or foot needs to be moving backward relative to the water. In shoulder-driven freestyle technique, with a relatively higher stroke rate, if one were to map the pathway of the pulling hand from the side, relative to a fixed point in the pool, one would find that the hand moves in nearly a perfect circle of around 2 feet in diameter.
If we consider the circle as a clock, the hand would enter the water at 12 o’clock. Since the swimmer’s body is moving forward, as the hand enters the water, the hand will move forward also. The swimmer begins the pulling motion by pushing the hand downward in order to reverse its direction and push it backward. The result is that the hand follows the clock to the 3 o’clock position, moving both downward and forward. We call this the lift phase, since most of the forces are downward, creating lift.
From 3 o’clock, when the hand is just in front of the swimmer’s shoulder, it begins moving backward, creating propulsion. The hand continues going deeper in the water as it follows the clock from 3 o’clock to 6 o’clock on its way backward. In an effort to continue pushing the hand backward past 6 o’clock with the maximum hand surface area, the arm needs to elevate and the wrist dorsiflex, resulting in the hand cutting a quarter of the clock off in moving from 6 o’clock to 9 o’clock. The backward hand motion from 3 to 9 o’clock is called the propulsion phase.
Once the hand reaches 9 o’clock, the arm runs out of length, so the hand cannot move backward any further. Instead, it quickly slides forward with the least resistance possible to leave the water nearly exactly where it began the circuitous route, at 12 o’clock. This last phase is called the release phase. The net distance that the hand travels from entry to exit is zero.
Unlike the hand, in order to create propulsion, the feet rely on the vortices caused by both the swimmer’s body and the motion of the foot and leg itself. In both freestyle and dolphin kick, the motion of the kicking foot is nearly straight up and straight down, relative to a fixed object in the pool. However, the water is not still in the path of the foot. Because the human body is a non-streamlined shape, there is a forward flow of water following the swimmer caused by the body’s vortex or wake (slipstream). There is also a second vortex caused by the motion of the feet and leg which creates a smaller stream that follows the path of the feet. Even though the feet are not moving backward relative to a fixed object in the pool, they are moving backward relative to the water, which is moving forward. Therefore, the feet can create propulsion without actually moving backward.
In dolphin kick, for example, there are four potential places where the feet can create propulsion. The first is at the beginning of the down kick. The propulsion here is achieved by quickly reversing the direction of the feet and pushing down against the vortex that was created by drawing the feet and leg upward and forward. The second is achieved as the feet traverse the body’s vortex (slipstream) on the way down. The third is achieved at the initiation of the up kick, as the feet and leg quickly reverse direction and push upward against the vortex they created on the way down. The fourth is achieved as the feet and leg move upward and traverse the body’s vortex (slipstream) on the way up. Only the fastest dolphin kickers will achieve propulsion in all four of these locations. Most swimmers derive propulsion in only one or two of them.
In flutter kick, there are two potential points of propulsion. Since the down kick and up kick occur simultaneously, one point is at the initiation of each, utilizing the vortices of the feet and legs. The second occurs as both feet pass through the slipstream on the way up or down.
With breaststroke kick, nearly all of the propulsion occurs from the instep of the feet pushing backward. The peak force occurs when the feet are about half way back toward complete extension of the legs. The narrower the kick, the more advantage the breaststroke kicker will derive from the body’s slipstream and large vortex resulting from drawing the legs and feet forward.  With a wide breaststroke kick, the feet may be pushing backward in relatively still water, rather than against a stream of water. That can significantly affect propulsion. A small amount of propulsion is also possible from the up kick that occurs at the end of the breaststroke kick. Not every breaststroker will get that second propulsion.
In summary, the propulsion of the pull is determined by the surface area of the hand pushing backward and the rate at which that effective hand surface area accelerates through the propulsion phase. The propulsion from the kick is determined by the surface area of the feet (and legs), the rate at which the feet accelerate through the vortices and the strength of the vortices (slipstream) that the feet move through. Further, the propulsive forces of either the pull or kick can be augmented by the amount of kinetic energy within the properly-timed coupling motions, such as the body rotating, the head snapping down, or the arms recovering.
This week in Lanes 2, 3 and 4, we will feature a classroom discussion on the four different types of pulling motions. We hope you will hop on in!
Yours in swimming,
Gary Sr.

Gary Hall Sr s guidar dig djupare ned i simningens mysterium - foto Håkan Frdriksson Gary Hall Sr s guidar dig djupare ned i simningens mysterium - foto Håkan Frdriksson

Publicerad 14 juni 2018

Physics for swimmers, coaches and parents
Frontal drag
Most sports take place in air, where drag forces apply but are not nearly as detrimental to performance as they are in swimming. With the density of water being 784 times greater than air, any errors we make in our body position or stroke mechanics are compounded at almost any speed, but even more so at higher speeds. However, we don’t have to be going very fast at all in water for these drag forces to ruin our day. The faster we swim, the bigger price we pay for our mistakes. Frontal drag is enemy #1 of the swimmer. There is no mercy in the water.
There are four factors that determine how much frontal drag will slow a swimmer down. The first is position. Is the swimmer underwater or on the surface? The second is the cross-sectional surface area of the swimmer moving forward. How large is the swimmer? What is the body angle? Are the legs and arms protruding out too far? Is the head too high? The third is the surface characteristic of the swimmer, including the suit, cap and goggles. How slippery is the swimmer? The fourth, and most important, is the swimmer’s speed. How fast is he or she moving in the water?
There are three different types of frontal drag forces that can slow a swimmer down, and they are all important. The first and most profound is pressure or form drag which occurs as a result of two important facts we see in good swimmers. First, swimmers are non-streamlined objects, even in the best position they can achieve. Second, good swimmers are in water and travel at speeds approximating 2 meters/second or higher. The physical shape of a swimmer (surface area moving forward), the medium of water, and the speed of the swimmer in the water are factors that determine what is called the Reynold’s number. This determines the flow characteristics around the moving swimmer. At the Reynold’s number of a good swimmer wearing a tech suit, the flow of water around him/her will change from laminar (smooth, at the head and shoulders) to transitional (separated from the boundary a foot or so behind the head and shoulders) to turbulent (somewhere near the waist). As the fluid transitions from the boundary of the swimmer’s body to a turbulent state, it then forms a vortex or slipstream behind the swimmer. The difference between the higher pressure at the head of the swimmer and the lower pressure behind the swimmer in the slipstream is what determines the pressure drag.
The second drag force is caused by friction. Friction occurs as a result of molecules rubbing against each other as an object moves through a medium; in this case, water. In general, the rougher the object (swimmer), the more friction. The smoother or slicker the object (swimmer), the less friction. Thus, the friction of a swimmer is largely determined by the surface characteristics of the swimmer; the cap, the skin, the goggles and the suit.
Third type of drag force is called surface or wave drag. It occurs as a result of the swimmer being partly in the water (submerged) and partly out of the water. Virtually all of the wave drag of a swimmer occurs from the front end of the swimmer’s body (head and shoulders).
In a study done in 2004, Mollendorf et al determined the contribution of all three types of frontal drag forces on swimmers while being towed at various speeds in a fixed, streamlined position (passive drag forces).[1] When low friction (high tech) suits were worn, and at approximately race speed for elite swimmers, they found that pressure drag forces accounted for about 50% of the total drag force, while wave drag forces and friction each accounted for about 25% of the total drag force. The total frontal drag forces were about three times greater at 2 m/sec (race speed) than they were at 1 m/sec. When low tech suits were worn, friction was a greater contributor to total drag than pressure or wave drag.
The reason that the swimmer’s speed is the most important factor in determining frontal drag is that all three types of drag forces are exponentially related to the swimmer’s speed. Both pressure drag and friction are proportional to the square of the swimmer’s speed, while wave drag is proportional to the fourth power of the swimmer’s speed. From this observation, we can conclude the following:
1.      All three types of frontal drag are important and need to be reduced as much as possible

2.      Small changes in a swimmer’s shape or position, cap and suit can have profound impacts on frontal drag at race speed

3.      Getting under water is desirable (eliminating wave drag) whenever possible while in a relative streamline position at race speed

4.      The stronger and faster a swimmer becomes, the more important technique becomes (the frontal drag forces at 2 m/sec are about three times greater than at 1 m/sec)

This week in Lanes 2, 3  and 4, you will receive the Race Club webisode featuring our favorite way to streamline in order reduce frontal drag. We hope you enjoy.

[1] Mollendorf, J.C., Termin A.C., Oppenheim E., and Pendergast D.R., Effect of Swim Suit Design on Passive Drag, MEDICINE & SCIENCE IN SPORTS & EXERCISE 0195-9131/04/3606-1029

Gary Hall Sr skriver att det finns minst 50 kandidater till titeln USAs mentalt tuffaste simmare genom tiderna. Hans lista toppas av Mike Phelps, här kramande sin mamma under VM 2009. Garys lista med Gary Hall Sr skriver att det finns minst 50 kandidater till titeln USAs mentalt tuffaste simmare genom tiderna. Hans lista toppas av Mike Phelps, här kramande sin mamma under VM 2009. Garys lista med

Publicerad 7 juni 2018

The 5 Mentally Toughest American Elite Swimmers in History
This is a tough list to compose. There are probably 50 or more good candidates for the top 5 spots, but this is my list. My recollection and knowledge of elite swimmers dates back to 1966, so any swimmers from before that era were not considered and may well deserve a spot on this list. I can think of a few that might, like Jeff Farrell, who made the Olympic Team in 1960 just 6 days after having an acute appendicitis…and one day after leaving the hospital.
Eddie Reese, men’s Head Coach at University of Texas, and the most successful Division 1 coach in history, used to grade (from 1-10) all of his swimmers on mental toughness, using what he called The Killer Instinct Scale. It would take Eddie until the conference or NCAA Championship meet of their freshman year to determine each swimmer’s first grade (I don’t think he actually gave it to them, but he then had an idea of what it was). It didn’t matter how fast they swam in workouts or dual meets. The real sign of mental toughness was how fast they would swim at the Championship meets. In that freshman year, with all of the changes and transitions going on in the swimmer’s life, only the mentally toughest swimmers will perform really well.

At The Race Club, we always tell our campers that their swimming career should not be evaluated on the basis of how many Olympic medals they won, or world records they set, but by how well they performed in their Championship meets year in and year out. No matter what level a swimmer reaches, if they consistently do their best when it counts, then they are mentally tough and champions.

As far as the elite swimmers go, here is my top five list, which includes nine swimmers:

1. Michael Phelps. I don’t think I will get too much argument here. To swim 17 races and win 8 gold medals out of 8 quite varied races in 2008 (who else wins the 400 IM and 100 fly in the same Olympic Games?), his mental toughness has to be off the charts. Perhaps his mentally toughest race of all time was winning the 200 fly in Beijing with his goggles filled with water. What composure! His comeback swims in Rio, in his final Olympic Games, and his performances in the London Olympics of 2012, after a poor first swim, are yet more reasons why he is ranked #1.

2.Mike Burton. Some of you may not even remember who he was, but you should. In all of his years as the world’s greatest distance freestyler, Mike never had a bad championship meet. In Bradenton, Florida, at the Spring National Championships of 1966, the last time that meet was ever held outdoors, the temperature was in the 30’s. It was wet and rainy all weekend. Everyone swam poorly, except Mike. He broke American records in winning the 500 and 1650 freestyle.
In the Mexico City Olympic Games of 1968, held at 7,000 feet, which adversely affects the distance athletes, Mike demolished the field in the 400 and 1500 meter freestyles to win 2 Gold medals.
In the Munich Olympic Games of 1972, where Mike was not expected to make the Team nor medal, he won a come-from-behind gold medal in the 1500 meter freestyle.
If these rankings were based purely on swimming above physical talent level, Mike Burton, who was only 5 feet 9 inches tall, might be #1 on the list.

3.Simone Manuel, Katie Ledecky and Lilly King. I couldn’t decide among these three, so I made it a tie. They are all 10/10 on the Killer Instinct Scale and have proven it at the NCAA, World Championships and Olympic Games. Each won an NCAA championship as a freshman, a rare accomplishment. All three won Olympic gold medals in their very first Olympic Games, which is only achieved by the mentally toughest athletes. They all have the Eye of the Tiger when standing on the blocks at any Championship meet and you wouldn’t want to be racing against them.

4.Gary Hall Jr., Tom Dolan. Ok, so I am little biased here. These two overcame incredible adversities to become Olympic champions. There has probably never been a swimmer that swam so slow in meets leading up to championship meets, yet never failed to swim fast in a championship meet, ever, as Gary Jr did. In three Olympic Games, he swam in 10 Olympic races and earned 10 Olympic medals and his best swims were always on relays. Six of those Olympic medals were earned after he was diagnosed with type I diabetes, and two diabetes specialists told him he would never swim in an Olympic Games again. Gary Jr was a Gamer and was as tough as they come at Game time. The bigger the meet, the faster he swam.
Tom Dolan was another Gamer that was at the top of the Killer Instinct Scale. Stricken with severe asthma, Tom would never know when an attack was coming. Yet he performed at his very best at the Olympic Games, winning two consecutive gold medals in arguably the most difficult event on the schedule, the 400 IM. 

5.Shirley Babashoff and Janet Evans. Both of these women deserve to be on this list, perhaps higher than 5th. While Janet did not swim as well as she would have liked in the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games, her absolute dominance in the distance freestyle for so many years, setting records that would last for decades, earns her a spot as one of the mentally toughest swimmers of all time. Shirley was one of those swimmers who always seemed to get her hand on the wall first. She was a fierce competitor and you wouldn’t want to be battling her in the final 10 meters of any race. The only important time she didn’t win, her three individual silver medals in the Montreal Olympic Games of 1976 would have been gold, were it not for the steroid-boosted swimmers from East Germany. Even so, Shirley and her teammates swam in what I consider the mentally toughest race of all time by winning the final 4 x 100 free relay in those Games. If you haven’t seen the movie The Last Gold, you should.

So go ahead. Let me know who should have been on the list. There are many deserving candidates.

This week in The Race Club’s Lanes 2, 3 and 4, you can join us in our classroom discussion about reducing frontal drag with proper head position. We hope you will - click

Yours in Swimming,
Gary Sr.