The Evil, Evil, X

7 06 2012

We never want to see something like this Evil, Evil, X

This is one of the first things I see (and correct) for many Breast strokers who come to tweak < the athletic edge >. I have to say, I enjoy seeing it because it’s easy to fix and swimmers immediately are more efficient and they “feel” it. The underlying problem here is surface area, Frontal Surface Area (”FSA”) to be more specific.

To really understand what FSA is, imagine that you are standing behind the wall of a pool that people push off and turn on. Instead of the wall being tile or concrete it’s glass. Looking through the glass you can see under the water, straight down the lane to the opposite cross. When an object (a swimmer for instance) is moving towards you, what you see coming at you as you stare down the lane is the objects FSA. You are concerned about only what goes on under the water (air is about 900 times less dense than water and therefore it can’t slow objects down like water can). It is ideal for the object traveling through the water to project the smallest frontal surface area possible under the water, thus allowing for minimal drag production. In other words, you shouldn’t see a lot of swimmer as they approach you.

The picture above shows you an example of a swimmer projecting a large FSA (we see a lot of the swimmer). The Breast stroker here has started to pull before finishing their kick, potentially shorting proper extension or skipping it entirely. Because of this mistake, we are able to draw two diagonal red lines, one from the left foot to the right hand, and one from the right foot to the left hand. These lines make an X, an Evil, Evil, X. When watching proper Breast stroke, we should never see this. In Breast stroke, starting to pull before the kick has finished is a big problem because the kick generates more propulsion through the water than the arms do, a great deal more actually. Starting to pull (spreading the hands apart) before this propulsionary process is complete is like opening a parachute in mid-air; you slow down FAST!

To get the most out of the kick, we want our arms and body to be in a position that projects a small FSA; therefore, we need to achieve a more streamline body position. I don’t think swimmers actually need to be in the “streamline” position; however, they should get close to it. A good start to fixing this problem is to simply tell the swimmer to wait until they have finished the kick (feel their feet come together) before initiating the pull (letting their hands come apart), Two Kicks-One Pull and 3-Second Glide drill are great ways to practice and get a “feel” for the proper technique. Like most problems relating to FSA, lengthening out the stroke is key.

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