The swimming pool is to Dubai what the black cab is to London – there are loads of them. And now summer is in full sweaty swing, the only outdoor exercise most of us can face is a paddle in the pool. Here swimming coach Roy Gilburt explains how to do it well.
This is the fastest competitive stroke as it uses an alternate, continuous action of both the arms and the legs. Although it’s not officially recognised by the FINA (swimming’s governing body), it’s often seen in swimming competitions because most athletes choose to swim it in freestyle races.
Arms should stay on the correct side of the body
Make sure your arm is in line with your shoulder as it enters the water. Pulling across the stroke will mean you’ll wriggle from side to side, so you’ll be less streamlined.
Kick from the hip
A common fault is to kick from the knees, which is inefficient and causes turbulence and drag. Focus on kicking from your hip and keeping a straight leg. Your leg will bend a little in this process, but your hip should be the main driving force.
Roll your shoulders
Getting the space to breathe is one of the biggest problems for adult swimmers. Most adults swim flat, so find it hard to breathe, but roll your shoulders and you’ll give yourself the space. This also leads to more propulsive power in your arm action.
This stroke uses more muscles than any other. In professional swimming circles it is actually considered one of the most difficult techniques to perfect.
Turn your feet out
Keep your feet dorsi-flexed (have your toes pointed up towards your shins) while kicking to provide more power to the stroke. A common fault is to have one foot not turned out, causing a ‘screw kick’.
Time your kick
Pull with your arms first and streamline them before you start with your kick. Basically your arms should be straight out in front of you before you kick. This maximises streamlining and therefore helps to increase your speed.
Keep your head still
Because you’re not fixed with your feet on the ground, if you move your head, the rest of your body reacts. If you lift your head up, for example, your legs will come down. Hold your head still and within the body line.
Maintain a streamlined position
Keep the smallest physical profile possible throughout the stroke – this provides less resistance in the water.
Mix it up
The best form of training is interval training. Rather than doing 800m straight, you’d be better to do 16 shorter sets of 50m, but harder and faster. This will give you better results.
Be relaxed in the recovery
The recovery phase is when the arms and the legs move back to the start position, ready to apply pressure on the water and cause forward movement. For example, the recovery in front crawl is when the arm comes out of the water – at this point it should be relaxed and close to the body, helping to keep you streamlined and reducing muscle effort.
Want some swimming guidance? See www.speedodubai.net to find a lesson near you.
The swim expert
Name: Roy Gilburt
Occupation: Lead teacher with Speedo Swim Squads
Favourite stroke: Butterfly