Starts and Turns

Fig.1. The importance of streamlining. “Dead Swimmer’ sequence from ‘The Swim Drills Book’ Ruben Guzman

Warm Up

50s FC and BC with emphasis on smooth swimming and long legs. I run through in a multitude of adjectives:

  • Slinky
  • Smooth
  • Silent
I draw on drills from Ruben Guzman’s ‘The Swim Drill Book’
  • Smooth
  • Sneaky

Send them on a secret mission

What works wonders with the younger swimmers is to tell them that they are ‘secret agents’ on a ‘secret mission’ and have to swim in the dark without being seen or heard.The result can be highly controlled, smooth swimming – just the kind of thing you’d hope for from a squad rather than a teaching group.

I centre everything on streamlining in starts and turns so start off where I usually end with a streamlined bounce, a handstand with emphasis on long legs and pointy toes, then a cannon ball and somersault.

Fun activities include:

  • Streamlined bounce off the bottom. Jack in the box style trying to touch the 5m flags, or the length of the pool.
  • Mushroom float
  • Summersault
  • Canon-ball summersault over the side of the pool – taught in an ASA Course
  • Canon-ball backwards fall over the side of the pool
  • Sea Otter – a series of playful duck dives the length of the pool

The formal sequence into starts and turns:

  • glide out to the flags (or beyond)
  • glide and add a few dolphin kicks
  • then glide, dolphin kick a single stroke of FC and tumble (flip)
  • then glide, dolphin kick and two strokes.
  • do Fly here as it is appropriate to do so

Repeat on the back with backstroke

Then with breastroke.

From the centre of the pool do turns into the wall, potentially with swimmers heading off to opposite ends of the pool and meeting in the middle. This can be done as a relay. A large float can be used for bouyancy.

Fig.2 Dive, flight, entry, glide. From ‘The Swim Drill Book’ by Ruben Guzman.

From a dive:

  • Glide
  • Glide and add the BR underwater stroke
  • the full BR transition
  • And from 10 m out all the turns.

And with time spare some fun activities and efforts to fault correct.

Introducing Butterfly to 8 and 9 year olds

Butterfly

Three groups of Grade 5 Swimmers (NPS Grade 7/8)

The introduction of Butterfly takes time. I have learnt to concentrate on the correct leg kick, initiated in the hits though running from the chin to the toes, before tackling the arms. I certainly see little purpose in introducing the full-stroke for more than a few moments and only once all the parts of the stroke have been introduced and worked on.

I have ages ranging from 8 to 11, with three competent swimmers while the fourth struggles. It is a shame when someone lacks fluidity, who is uncomfortable, even ungainly in water. Ideally such a swimmer ought to be doing a programme that develops confidence through fun. It is always apparent when someone is confident in water, better still, as with a couple of these swimmers, when they clearly feel joy at being in water.

The plan I run to for this grade and age on Butterfly is typically:


A warm up of 2 x 5m Front Crawl, asking for ‘long legs, smooth arms’. Followed by something similar on Back Crawl, asking for ‘steady leg kick, straight arm recovery’.

I then get them out of the water (perhaps better to do this before they get wet, which I did with one group).

Have them against the wall, ankles to the wall, bum to the wall, shoulder blades and head to the wall, then stretch into the streamlined position. I will bring the head forward and invite them to see if by stretching they can make their elbows touch (possible only with the most flexible). I don’t push for the impossible, but rather emphasize (as they are told all the time) the important of streamlining.

(See the Ruben Guzman images in ‘The Swimming Drill Book).


They then step away from the wall and rest their hands at their sides. I invite them to imagine they are wearing a fish tail. I will physically role-play putting on such a thing, over my toes, the ankles together, up to the knees, also together and up to the navel. Some will copy, on reflection I’d get them all to do this and then hop around a bit). Next, to make this tail work they have to move the hips back, then forwards. The point is made that fish do not have knees. We run through this a few times, then they get into the water.

Ideally the swimmers have short fins on. In the deep end an introductory exercise is to have them rest their arms on the lane rope, feet pointing straight down and to do the ‘butterfly wiggle’ trying to gain some purchase on the water in the upright position (far easier with fins on). They are then challenged to do this first away from the lane rope and then with arms raised. From this we go into the kick in the horizontal position.

Whist kicking with a stiff float is potentially painful for the lower back, using a noodle, with outstretched arms offers enough flexibility to do 4 x25 fly kick, perhaps with some of it on the back. As they swim up the pool I will repeat something like ‘bum back, bum forward’ or ‘imagine you are a mermaid,’ or ‘imagine you are wearing flippers’. No surprises that the boys prefer to be dolphins.

From this we go into ‘dolphin’ with the hands at the side, raising the chin to breath, and then jamming to chin in to go down. This might be tied into ‘sea otter’ the game whereby they play being otters, or mermaids, swimming to the bottom of the pool for either oysters or pearls They have to do a butterfly kick throughout. The next step is to do the kick on the surface, ‘stitching’ through the water raising the head with a kick and ducking the head down with a kick.

Then a single arm pull, with emphasis on the straight arm recovery. This can take quite a while to get right, may require a short session on the poolside and usually works best if they are encouraged to turn their head and watch the arm describe an arc through the air. They are also encouraged to think about ‘kicking the hand in’ and ‘kicking he hand out’.

To get them up to the deep end ahead of diving practice I may have them get into the streamlined position then bounced along the black line from one end of the pool to the other. It’s a break, and fun and of value as a drill for diving and streamlining, even controlling breathing.

Diving practice here uses the butterfly kick, so a dive a glide, followed by a dive, 2 second glide then six fly kicks, then 2 second glide, 2 kicks and 2 full arms strokes before swimming out the 25m on Front Crawl. After this, I may ask them to do a 25m of full stroke FLY but only if I am confident they will be able to give it a realistic shot. In my first group one swimmer executed a delightfully fluid and effective 25m of Fly. Most bend the knees and drop the body then struggle to get their arms out of the water.

With a minute or so left they might quickly run through:

• A handstand with pointed toes
• A mushroom float
• ‘Dead swimmer’ straightening out into the streamlined position
• Somersaults.

With a little variation this is repeated with the three groups I take in the morning. They are all aged 8-11. Some are more able than others, with one or two struggling with coordination to such a degree you wonder if they’ll ever get it: all do, if they stick with it. Sadly only one of the swimmers in the three groups swims more than once a week. This, not surprisingly, makes a huge difference, as in any one week they will repeat similar drills, with a different teacher, who may introduce an idea or approach that makes more sense to them.

Mini, Dives, turns and FC and BC break-out

Mini Dives and Transition in FC and BC

Fun and team-building warm up

  • Hot potato
  • * Push and glide on front
  • * Push and glide on back

Deep End

* Dolphin Kick by lane rope

Re-cap

* Jump from block

* Topple and jump

* Topple and dive

* Dive, glide and dolphin kick (distance challenge)

* Back start, glide and dolphin kic

* Break-out into FC

* Break-out intro BC

100m swim FC

100m BC

 

Rotational Turn

Mid-pool three strokes and flip

Mid-pool to end, Feet on Wall

Push and glide, flip

Push and glide and 1, then 2, then 3 strokes and flip

Check stroke count on BC

IM RELAY 25s or 50s?

Swim Down

(Tunnel ?)