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It's been quite the weekend, and we hope everyone has made it through ok so far! For those with power/internet, we will have Zoom dryland today at 4:30, so do come if you are able.
We were hoping to have a concrete opening/practice resumption date this week, but the power is currently still out at the J and we aren't able to do the prep work we need to in the building, so we'll have to wait for that situation to be resolved before we can have a firm reopening plan.
For our technique video today, we're taking another look at how to do a fast forward start. While we do cover the same ground over again in some of our videos, one of the things that any coach can tell you is that different explanations, analogies, or even video angles are what help different ideas really click for different swimmers. So keep watching and listening, and see what new ideas you can pick up each time!
For our virtual race today, we're headed to a climate we all wish we could have right now instead of snow and ice: the Bahamas! We're watching the final of the 13-14 year-old boys' 100m fly at the 2019 Bahamas Nationals. Unlike some races we've featured recently, this is not a close one. Nigel Forbes is the 11-12 and 13-14 Bahamian record-holder in the 100 fly and the 13-14 record holder in the 200 fly. He's also the CARIFTA (Caribbean Free Trade Association) regional age-group record-holder in the 100 fly and only 0.04 seconds off that regional record in the 200 fly. Just this past December, in his last meet as a 14 year-old, he again lowered the 100m fly mark to 56.92 (it's hard to see in the video, but his time in the 2019 Nationals was 57.98). He's also been using the competition-light COVID months to work on his backstroke in order to improve his 200 IM and add another race to his arsenal. If he follows in the footsteps of those whose records he is breaking now, we'll be seeing him at the Olympics in 2024 or 2028!
It’s hard to believe another week has gone by, but here we are! We won’t have an email or Zoom call on Monday due to the holiday, so we’ll catch up with everyone on Tuesday for dryland.
We continue to plan for our reopening and getting to SWIM again! We are in the process of recalling and hiring staff, and getting the building up and running again. We do not have an exact reopening date yet, but it should be near the end of the month. Swim team will resume as soon as the pools are open! At that point, we will resume charges on all swimmers unless you’ve let us know that your swimmer(s) will not be returning. (Charges will be pro-rated if needed, should we start partway through a month.) If you know your swimmer(s) will not be returning, please let me know by Monday, Feb 15 so that we can pull swimmers from the waitlist!
We’re looking at freestyle again today for our technique tip, and specifically what we call “front quadrant” swimming. While our younger swimmers might not recognize the term (older/more experienced swimmers should!) they should recognize the goal - keeping the leading arm out in front until the other arm has finishes recovery and is about to enter the water. Front quadrant freestyle keeps the swimmer better balanced in the water, helping the body maintain a straight line and the hips and legs stay at the surface. It is also biomechanically better, as it reduces strain on the shoulders and even the back.
Our virtual race today is the final of the women's 400m freestyle from the 2019 Junior Nationals. You can really see the front quadrant swimming in the middle 200 yards (it's a little harder to see in the sprints at the beginning and end, unless you have access to slo-mo footage). Its also just an exciting race to watch as the finish is exceptionally close, especially for a race of this distance!
It's Tuesday, and sadly Coach John has had a last-minute meeting scheduled at his other job, so we will NOT be doing dryland this afternoon. But it's a lovely day, so a great chance to get outside and go for a walk, a run, or just a good play in the backyard before the cold weather hits!
We did get word today that Multnomah County will be headed out of the Extreme Risk category at the end of this week - hooray! We are working on what that looks like for the J right now, and should have news on our plans for reopening and when that might happen in the next few days. As we plan for that, I'm asking all parents to let me know by this Monday, Feb 15 if your swimmer will NOT be rejoining us, so we know what to expect as in-person practice approaches!
Since we looked at one of the two hardest strokes yesterday, today we're going to check out the other one: the dreaded (or not-so-dreaded, depending on the swimmer!) butterfly. Like breaststroke, butterfly involves a lot of coordination to swim correctly. It also often takes more energy, but often that is because the swimmer doesn't have it put together quite right. Many experienced swimmers actually say they would rather swim the 200 fly than the 200 breast, because in competition, the 200 breast is more work! But in order to get to that point, first we have to master the basics, and the most basic of the basics means swimming the stroke without getting disqualified. Here's an excellent video that goes over the major rules of butterfly, with demonstrations both of the correct way, and some common mistakes. (It may be good to note that there are other rules for butterfly that aren't covered here, but they are the more general rules that apply to all the strokes, like not touching the bottom of the pool, not pulling on the lane lines, starting correctly, etc.)
Our virtual swim meet race today features eight definitely legal butterfly swims in the final of the men's 100m fly from the January 2020 Pro Swim Series meet in Knoxville. Smith's second half/last quarter is extremely impressive here as he powers out to the front of a talented field. This is a VERY close race, too, once you look past first place - not even a full second between second and eighth, and only .06 between third and seventh!
It's time for another week of swimming fun! We have our Social Zoom today at 4:30, and we'll be playing a version of rock-paper-scissors, so plan to have your video on. Jennie is working from the J this afternoon as back-up for the afterschool camp, so there is a small chance that if there were an emergency, we'd have to end the call early - just a heads-up everyone knows.
For technique today we are looking at a few tips for breaststroke. We all know doing breaststroke correctly is one of the most challenging parts of swimming (especially doing it correctly and FAST), so it's always a good idea to pick up tips and hints about it whenever you can. The better your technique, the easier the stroke is to swim!
For our virtual swim meet race today, we have the final of the women's 100m breaststroke from the March 2020 Pro Swim Series meet in Des Moines. This is a great race with some world-class breaststrokers. When you see finishes like this (check out all those 1:07s...), you know every little detail counts.
Happy Thursday! Today's will just be a quick email as I still have to get over to the J to give the pools TLC for the day.
For our not-really-technique video today, we have The Other MJCC talking about how to fit your goggles properly. This is actually a huge issue, especially for our competitive swimmers, for whom well-fitted, leak-free goggles can make ALL the difference, in practice as well as in competition. It's pretty hard to concentrate on your strokes when your goggles are always full of water! Parents, it's probably useful to check with your swimmer occasionally whether their goggles are working for them - I've found it's something that for whatever reason, some swimmers just never mention to their parents, even when one of the coaches suggests they should!
On the other hand, for our virtual swim meet entry today we have the men's 4x100 medley relay from the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics...and look at how many of those swimmers choose not to use goggles, even though they could! Just as important as goggles that fit is being able to swim if your goggles fall off or fill up with water, because those things do happen on occasion even to goggles that fit well. While some of the close-ups are a little fuzzy, I'm reasonably sure that 3/4s of that Olympic-gold-winning, world-record-setting relay team didn't wear goggles at all!
Apologies for missing our email yesterday - I ended up in meetings all day and ran out of time to write! So here it is Tuesday already, which means it's time for Zoom dryland this afternoon at 4:30.
We all know the past year has been hard in nearly every way, and even when we are able to swim it's easy to focus on the progress we feel like we haven't made, and the difficult road back to success. USA Swimming has a good article on their website about how to combat those tendencies - check it out here!
Oregon Swimming is offering athletes a chance to "meet" former Olympian Summer Sanders in a Zoom call on February 6 at 1 pm. Anyone who is interested should sign up here.
Lake Oswego Swim Club is heading up a letter-writing effort to get pools open for sports practices in all counties - you can click here to (easily and painlessly) email the Governor's office and OHA. When I did it I also added a bit about how the new indoor recreation guidelines for Extreme Risk counties are still insufficient to hold practice, as they require members of different households to stay 25 feet apart (which means a typical pool could only have 2-4 people at a time - and no one can run a swim team like that!).
Meanwhile, OHA has just released this week's "Warning Week" numbers, and for 1/17-1/30 Multnomah County is at 206.9 cases per 100,000. We need that number to be below 200 in order to move to High Risk and be able to reopen, so this week's numbers will be key in whether we are back to practice this month or not. Given that that number is down from 242.4 in the prior two weeks (1/10-1/23), we really are hopeful that we'll see it drop below 200 next week....as long as everyone skips the big Super Bowl parties this weekend!
Our technique tip today talks about the 5 biggest mistakes in swimming freestyle. This video outlines a lot of things that we see frequently in practice, and every one of our swimmers could improve in at least one of these categories! One thing to note is when he talks about kicking "too much," that's not something we tend to see at the level where our swimmers are - so none of our Stingrays should take it as a suggestion to kick less. If you watch the swimmers the presenter shows as being correct in the video, all of them are doing a 6-beat kick (three kicks per arm stroke), which is exactly what we want to see.
For our virtual swim meet entry today, so that everyone has a chance to see who Summer Sanders is before you (potentially) meet her virtually, here is the second heat of the qualifiers for the women's 400m IM at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. (Sanders would eventually take Bronze in the final, but I couldn't find that - or her gold medal performance in the 200 fly - online.) Look at the underwater shots in the fly and see if you can tell one big difference in how we swim fly today versus then (hint - it's in the kick...).
First, just a quick reminder that if you are able to pay for February swim team, please let me know by Feb 1! We have a glimmer of hope that we might even be able to get back in the water in February, but we won't know for sure until COVID numbers are released for the next couple of weeks.
With our abbreviated seasons these past two years, we haven't had much of a chance to talk about USA Swimming's SafeSport initiatives, but while we are all stuck at home is actually a great time for parents and swimmers to sign up for one of the SafeSport training sessions. All of the coaches and officials go through this training as part of our membership (as do athletes who are 18 and over), but it's a great idea for all of our parents and our swimmers who are 12 & over to attend, too. We anticipate that this may become mandatory in coming years, so let's get a jump on it now! Register for one of the events through USA Swimming:
Wednesday, February 17, 2021 at 8 p.m. EST (REGISTER HERE)
Wednesday, March 17, 2021 at 8 p.m. EST (REGISTER HERE)
Athlete Training (ages 12-18):
Thursday, February 18, 2021 at 8 p.m. EST (REGISTER HERE)
Thursday, March 18, 2021 at 8 p.m. EST (REGISTER HERE)
Note that there are attendance limits in place, and pre-registration is required to ensue security and that each athlete/family is recorded for SafeSport documentation purposes.
Our swim technique tip today is about swimming butterfly. Similar to Tuesday's backstroke video, this one has good tips, but also really nice footage at various speeds from various angles (including underwater), so that you can really see what the stroke should look like. These views are even more useful for the more difficult strokes (like butterfly), where it's harder to grasp the fine points just seeing it demonstrated from the deck or even from a single angle in the water. It may be useful to bookmark this video so that you can take a look at them again once we are back in the water and have had a butterfly practice!
For our virtual race today, we're watching the final of the women's 100 fly from the 2020 Pro Swim Series in Knoxville. Here are some excellent butterflyers putting the advice above into action! Of course, no swimmer is perfect - even very fast swimmers - so one thing you might do is play coach: watch the video and see which swimmer you think might have the best butterfly, or if you can see any technique glitches that you would want to change if you were these swimmers' coach!
Another Tuesday means it's time for Zoom dryland, so that Coach John can torture us all, er, I mean, make sure we all stay fit for when we can swim again! Join us at 4:30.
As we come to the end of another month, it's once again time for me to ask that anyone who is able and willing to pay your February Stingrays fee to please shoot me an email by February 1. We are not charging anyone except those who expressly ask to be charged each month! We are so appreciative of everyone's support during these truly strange times. Our goal is to maintain our team spirit and enthusiasm, and the help of those who are able is what lets us keep going!
In good news, Multnomah County is down to 243 cases per 100,000 for the past two weeks (this is down from a high of well over 500 in late November), and the threshold to go from "Extreme" to "High" risk (and be allowed to open!) is 200 - so we are getting ever closer! Do be aware that factors other than just county risk levels impact our exact reopening date, so depending on staff availability to return, getting the pools back up to temperature, and other such factors, it may be a few days between when we have the official go-ahead and when we can safely reopen our doors to everyone. As always, though, Stingrays practice remains a high priority!
For our technique tip today, we are looking at an excellent overview of backstroke. There is really something in this video for everyone, from our newest swimmers on up through our long-time Stingrays. There's also some great underwater footage of backstroke, so even if some of the technique notes are a little advanced for some, just seeing what it is supposed to look like is really valuable.
For our virtual race today, we're watching the women's 50m backstroke from the November ISL meet in Budapest. Honestly, the 50s are always just fun to watch, with so much happening in such a short period of time. Plus, there's a note of caution here in making sure you aren't going for the wall with your fingertips instead of your palm!
Happy Monday once again! To start the week off right we'll be having our social Zoom today at 4:30. We've got a "Guess Who" game to play, and you don't need to bring anything other than yourself!
Since we've done some talking about HOW to breathe in freestyle, today we're going to talk about WHEN to breathe during the pure sprints (50 and 100). Wee usually introduce this with Bronze swimmers by saying not to breathe on your first and last strokes, and then refine it in Silver and Gold to fewer breaths and even planning where each specific breath will be. It doesn't always go to plan, of course, but it pays to be thinking about where you are going to breathe so that it has the least slowing effect possible!
For our virtual swim meet race today we are watching the final of the women's 100 free from 2019 YMCA Short Course Nationals. Here's a chance to watch some great but still developing athletes at the top of their game. Referencing back to the breathing piece, you can definitely find some ill-placed breaths in this race if you look at all the competitors. The ultimate winner, though, keeps her breaths to a minimum and all of them are mid-pool with none in the sections between the flags and the walls. Every one of these swimmers made it to the final at a national championship event, so they are all good - but the one difference between "good" and "best" can definitely be the breathing pattern.
Another week is coming to an end, and we have some weekend workout ideas to keep you moving!
Our swim tips today are focused on improving your butterfly while we are away from the pool. First, for our beginner and intermediate butterfly swimmers, here are a few dryland drills to do to improve common faults in your stroke. Even if you don't think one of these things applies to you, doing the drills still helps build good muscle memory for once we are back. For our advanced butterflyers who are up to a challenge, we have a ten-minute workout that focuses on muscles and motions that will improve your fly. If you want to focus on fly in the upcoming season, maybe add this workout (or a variation of it) to your weekly routine!
For our virtual swim meet race today we're watching the final of the women's 100 fly, once again from this past weekend's Tyr Pro Swim Series meet. We're watching a world-record-holding backstroker show everyone that versatility is fun, as she handily wins against a top-class field here, too. Speculation is that Smith may include the 100 fly in her Olympic Trials schedule, hoping to add the fly to her international championship resume at the Olympics.
Welcome back! We have another few days of fun for you, starting with our Zoom dryland today at 4:30.
In the technique department today, we're looking at the tricks and rules for the backstroke turn. For our Bronze swimmers, this is half of why we work so hard on everyone knowing their stroke count and using it every time the come into the wall (the other half being, of course, the finish) - because not only can a bad turn get you disqualified, but a great turn can make you a winner. And your stroke count, which allows you to confidently get your feet on the wall legally and quickly every single time, is a huge part of that! For our Silver and Gold swimmers, even though you may be good at turns already, it's always good to know the actual rules, so that if something goes wrong you can at least try to avoid the DQ. Plus, every one of us could get BETTER, even at things we are already good at!
For our virtual swim meet race today we are watching the final of the men's 100 back from this past weekend's Tyr Pro Swim Series meet in San Antonio. This is a race that comes down to the turn! Lane 4 really glides in (we're going to assume he managed to keep his hand moving since there was no DQ, and one of the officials did appear to be looking), whereas Lane 5 hits it right on the money and then holds that underwater for basically the entire 15 meters, and carries the lead that gets him through the rest of the race and right into the wall. Murphy looks like he's planning to dominate the backstroke in Tokyo this summer just like he did in Rio.
We're almost through another week, which means one way or another we're a week closer to seeing each other in person again! (And one week closer to Coach Jennie not having her computer mouse stolen by a cat every time she tries to write an email...)
Today we have a video about some quick tips for swimming faster (mostly in freestyle). While the video calls these "little known strategies," most will at least ring a bell for our Bronze swimmers, while all should be familiar to our upper level swimmers! Some of these are easier than others - and some seem easy but take practice! - but all are excellent things for any swimmer to work on to advance their competitive goals (even if they are just competing against themselves).
For our virtual swim meet entry today, we have an exciting women's 100 free final from the 2020 Pro Swim Series in Knoxville. How many of the tips above can you see the competitors in this race doing - or maybe occasionally forgetting? When the finish is too close for the announcer to even try to call until the scoreboard times come up, you know that ANY little technique improvement or mistake could make all the difference!
Remember that Monday is a holiday, so there will be no Monday email or social call next week. We'll see you for dryland on Tuesday, though!
It's dryland day today! Coach John has lots of fun in store for us at 4:30 on Zoom.
Monday is a holiday, so we will be skipping our Zoom social next week - but we'll be back for more on the 25th!
If you just can't get enough dryland, Fitter & Faster is running dryland classes for ages 10 and up that have some lunchtime (as well as other times) workout options for those still at home! Check it out here.
Following up on our talk about long strokes yesterday, here's another piece to the front end of the stroke: keeping your leading hand out in front until your other arm finishes the recovery, AKA "why we swim catch-up so much." (We also love this video because it comes from another "MJCC!") This is a topic we talk about SO MUCH in practice, and it is always good to hear it from another perspective, and to remember all these details even while we can't swim!
For our virtual swim meet race today we are going back to the supersuit era to watch the final of the men's 200m free from the 2009 Rome World Championships. There's some good commentary with this video so we'll just leave it up to Rowdy to talk about what's happening - and since this time the title doesn't give away the winner, we aren't going to, either! Suffice it to say that the word record set here is one of the handful from that era that still stand - and frankly, no one has gotten particularly close to it since then, in any kind of swimsuit.
It's another Monday, which means we get to see everyone's faces (and/or profile pictures...) on Zoom for our social call at 4:30! Today, we're playing MadLibs, so come ready to tell us some great nouns, verbs, and more.
Today in technique, we're talking about having a long freestyle stroke (specifically in the front half of the stroke in this case, though of course it's important to not finish your stroke too early, too!). Not only does a long stroke take advantage of bigger muscle groups and help avoid shoulder injury (as mentioned in the video), but it also means that you are taking fewer strokes and therefore not working as hard as those with short strokes to maintain the same speed - and not working as hard sure sounds nice, doesn't it?
Following up on that, we're watching the final of the men's 100m free from the World Junior Championships in 2017. Watch the swimmer (Ivan Girev) in lane 4 - his strokes are long and smooth, with very little variation throughout the race. Even when he is overtaken by swimmers with a faster stroke rates, he doesn't give in to the temptation to match that, but trusts his technique and training to prevail. (Do know that every swimmer has a stroke rate that is best for them for the distance being swum - this is why sometimes you coach will ask you to speed up or slow down your stroke rate either in general or for a particular race. But the goal is to do as few strokes as you can WHILE maintaining your best speed through the water.)
We're back with another installment of swim-watching fun for everyone, so buckle up and we'll learn some things!
We're talking today about our underwater dolphin kicks. You may have noticed by now that these are very important just by the number of different ways we bring them up in our emails! This is a great video because not only does he go into the physiology (I bet you wouldn't have guessed you'd be looking at a muscle diagram on a dolphin to learn to swim better!), but if you watch the next two linked videos, there are lots of exercises you can do right now at home to improve your underwater dolphins and streamline when you return to practice. You may even recognize some of the exercises from our dryland workouts...
And to see the clear benefit of excellent underwaters, today we're watching the final of the men's 100 free at the 2015 winter Junior Nationals. The winner here is a 17 year-old - so not that much older (if at all) than many of our Silver and Gold swimmers - and he goes at least 13 meters underwater off EVERY wall. It's pretty easy to lead wire to wire if your start and every turn are THAT impressive...
It's dryland day! Don't forget to join us on Zoom at 4:30 for the first workout of 2021!
Yesterday we talked IM basics, so today we're going to go more in-depth and look at the crossover turn. This is actually a relatively new style of turn (it certainly wasn't a thing when Coach Jennie was swimming...we can check with Coach John later!) that we don't talk about much in practice, but for our more advanced swimmers it's always nice to have some extra tools in the bucket! You should not be trying a crossover or a bucket turn (also know as a "suicide turn") until you are VERY confident and consistent in your stroke count, because both turns (especially the suicide turn...hence the name...) make it much easier to hit your head on the wall if you misjudge. The crossover adds another element of difficulty in that as you reach across your body, it becomes very easy to go a little too far and roll to your stomach early...which gets you disqualified. And while the order of speed listed in the video (open, bucket, crossover) is true for a swimmer who does all three turns well, the fact also remains that the fastest turn for YOU will be the turn you can do most quickly and without error - so while you work towards a new style of turn in practice, you might still be doing an "older" style in meets. That's why even with regular flip turns, we do a LOT of them in practice before we do them in a meet! These videos, though, are a great chance to look at how something breaks down - you can even pause and look at the technique more or less frame-by-frame to really get a feel for it. As swimming techniques evolve, you might be surprised to know that this is also how your coaches learn new things to keep you all swimming your fastest!
We're going back to the 2020 ISL series today, to watch the men's 100 IM from match 6 in Budapest. One of the neat things about the ISL meets is that we get to see these sprints of strokes and IMs that for a long time haven't really been swum often by adults on the national or international stage (the stroke 50s have been part of world championships for only about 20 years - which is the swimming world is still "new" to a lot of people! - and have not yet become Olympic distances). This is just a fast, fun race with a good finish, so enjoy!
Welcome to 2021! I think it's safe to say we're all hoping we get to swim more than in 2020...
For our teen swimmers who are MJCC members, the fitness department is doing a fun challenge January 11-31 to help starting to build good fitness habits for the new year - you can check it out here!
We have our social Zoom today at 4:30, and we'll be playing Detective... Be forewarned that this game does require you to have your video on and everyone to be actively participating in order for it to work!
For technique today, we're looking at what the IM is all about. We worked on this with Bronze shortly before our current "break," so it's a good refresher for those who aren't super confidant yet when we say "it's IM day!" (We'll have some more advanced IM fun tomorrow for those who might find this video too easy. One important thing to note is that the order for the IM - individual medley, where one swimmer swims all four strokes - is DIFFERENT from the order for the medley RELAY, where each swimmer only does one stroke. The medley relay is in alphabetical order - backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, freestyle. We wanted to be sure to point out that difference because...
...today's virtual swim meet race is the final heat of the men's 400 yard medley relay from the 2018 Don Richards Invitational at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Watch lane 5 (counting down from the top) - the fun starts at the end of the first 50 of backstroke... This one is just a fun race to watch (thanks, YouTube algorithm!), plus a lesson in why you should never give up on a race just because you made a mistake! We all mess up eventually, but it sometimes it all turns out ok if you just hang on and keeping swimming hard.
Here it is: the last Stingrays update of 2020! (Since Thursday is a holiday, we will not have an email that day.) Be sure to also join us for the last Stingrays dryland of 2020 today at 4:30pm!
For our technique tip today, we are looking at one tiny part of your start technique - your toes. It may feel like your start is over once your hands and head enter the water, but in a sport where hundredths of a second count, every tiny adjustment matters - so, as this video points out (pun intended), it's important to keep focusing all the way to the tips of your pointed toes!
Our virtual swim meet race today is more like some highlights from a longer swim, but we are going to watch 100-year-old Meiko Nagaoka become the oldest swimmer ever to complete a 1500m freestyle in competition. (Technically, in competition, the freestyle can be swum with any stroke (except in the IM and medley relay) - but for those who are young and flexible front crawl is the fastest stroke, so that is what you are expected to swim. Also, in practice, "free" NEVER means anything except front crawl.) She completed the swim in 1:15:54.39. Even more impressively, Nagaoka taught herself to swim at age 82 when she was in the pool rehabilitating from a knee injury - and now holds 24 Masters world records. Now 106 years old, Nagaoka says she intends to keep swimming until she's at least 110!
Welcome to the last Monday of 2020! Of course, since it's Monday, we have our social Zoom today at 4:30, where by request we will be playing that classic, the Broccoli Game (*not its actual name and no broccoli will be harmed in the making of this Zoom call). We'll also have one last 2020 dryland tomorrow (Tuesday) at 4:30, so that we can head into 2021 in good shape!
As Closure: The Sequel continues, if you are able to donate your January swim team fees (or a portion thereof), please shoot me (Jennie) an email by January 4. Your donations help us keep offering virtual programming and keep us ready to re-start (re-re-start?) in person as soon as it's allowed!
Our technique tip today is about butterfly rhythm. Butterfly can be the physically hardest of all the strokes, but it's made MUCH easier by getting your rhythm right, because then your body motion and arm strokes actually help each other - and it feels much less like fighting your way through the water! Practicing this on dry land will absolutely help, too. I (Jennie) have found that my butterfly has improved since I started coaching, just from all the demonstrating the rhythm of it on the deck!
For our virtual swim meet entry today, we're watching the final of the men's 200 fly from the 2016 US Olympic Trials. While no one in the world has a "perfect" stroke, you can certainly watch and emulate the rhythm of any of these competitors to help make your butterfly top-notch. Notice, in particular, that their arms never stop moving. We see a lot of younger flyers trying to do one or two kicks with their arms extended to the front and THEN take a stroke, and this is maybe the hardest way to try and swim fly. You have to move your arms WITH the kicks, not pausing the arm movement at any point.
This week will be a short one because of the holiday, so there won't be an email on Thursday - but we'll be back on Monday!
As we approach the end of the month and know from the state numbers that it's almost impossible that we would be able to reopen at the beginning of January, we're putting out our monthly request that anyone who is willing and able to pay their January swim team fee to help us keep going in this interim let us know by January 4th. Just a quick email works, and know that we are SO appreciative of everyone who has the resources to help us during all of these closures - and for those who do not have those resources, we hope your swimmers still keep coming to our virtual events, because we appreciate that, too! As always, any program fees paid for programs that are not happening during our closures are considered donations and are tax-deductible.
We will have dryland today, so be sure to join us at 4:30 on Zoom!
Our technique video today has some great tips for breathing in freestyle. This is a place where we see even some of our more advanced swimmers needing work sometimes. It's very tempting to turn far to get to ALL that oxygen, or to do a short exhale that doesn't get all the used air out, so we have to work hard to retrain our muscles and lungs how to work together. Freestyle would be significantly faster if we didn't have to breathe, but since we do (sometimes), it's important to make those breaths as efficient as possible!
For our virtual race today, we're watching the final of the women's S6 400m free from the 2012 London Paralympics. Notice how these swimmers, some of who don't even have the benefit of a supporting kick, breathe quickly and low to the water. In the shots from across the pool, you can often only even tell that they are breathing because of the color patterns on their caps. (You can also see what your coaches - and everyone's coaches, at every level, everywhere - see as the swimmers get tired, and old bad habits start to re-emerge. As they get to the end, the breathing is significantly less smooth for the leader. An educated guess says that that is something that her coaches worked with her long and hard on when she was an age-group swimmer, and all that work helped her get to the top of the world!)
Monday has rolled around again and we are excited to play some games this afternoon on our social Zoom at 4:30! And of course tomorrow we'll do some dryland training (also at 4:30) to keep us fit over the holidays.
For technique today we are looking at the backstroke start, largely because this might be the cutest video I've seen in weeks. We talked about this in detail with our two groups who had Fast Friday already, but as a review for them or an intro for anyone who hasn't done a meet yet, this video shows how the whistles work for the backstroke start, which is slightly different than the forward starts. First we have the short whistles, that let the incoming swimmers know they should be by their blocks and ready. This is the last time (for any race, not just backstroke) that you should be adjusting your goggles, cap, etc! Then the first long whistle tells the backstrokers to step in. Note the term - "step in." It is not legal to do a cannonball, dive, jump off the blocks, etc - and it is inadvisable to grab the backstroke grip on the starting blocks and try to use it to slide in, because that's a great way to hurt a shoulder or wrist. Now, unlike the other strokes, there is a SECOND long whistle, which means you should return to the wall and be ready, with hands and feet in place, for the "take your marks" command. (In this video, the kids are yelling "feet!" as in "get your feet on the wall", as a shorthand.) Just remember not to make the mistake some of these swimmers do; make sure you wait to go until you actually hear (or see) the start signal!
Our virtual race today is the final of the women's 100m backstroke from the 2019 summer Junior Nationals. As you watch the start of this race, think about what each whistle or command means as it's given. (The short whistles happen near the beginning of the video - there's a larger gap here between those and the actual start because the introduce all the swimmers once they are at their blocks.) Notice, too, how the starter asks the swimmers to "relax" after the first time they are on the wall. This can happen for a whole variety of reasons, but whenever you hear it you should take the opportunity to give your muscles a break from holding that pre-start position, so you aren't tired before your race! Since it's backstroke and relaxing can mean losing touch with the wall, the long whistle is blown again to let the swimmers know to come back and be ready to take their marks. (Did you see all the officials step forward and look down at the swimmers at one point? They're checking to make sure no one's toes are over the edge of the pool.) Of course, the race itself is a pretty exciting one here, too, with several swimmers in contention for the win until the last moments!
It's your friendly neighborhood coaches again with more virtual swimming fun for everyone!
For technique today, we're looking at our underwater dolphin kicks. Underwater dolphin kicks should be happening when you start and when you push off the wall in every stroke (but you only get to do ONE of them in breaststroke, instead of lots like in the other strokes!), and are so important that some coaches refer to them as the "fifth stroke." (One thing to note in this video is that the swimmers, in order to get a better camera view to demonstrate the kick, are way too far underwater for if they were actually racing or practicing a stroke - you don't want to be skimming the bottom, but just 2-3 feet below the surface!) You are fastest underwater and when you have just pushed off a wall or dove off the blocks, so it's important to make the most of that! That's why there's a rule that you have to break the surface of the water by the time you've gone 15 meters. Don't worry about getting DQed for that, though - for most of our swimmers - and most swimmers everywhere, except the top national/international ones - going that far underwater is nowhere near a reality yet. Fifteen meters is well over half - about 2/3s, in fact - the length of our pool!
To watch some of those top swimmers at work, today we're watching the men's 100m backstroke final from the 2017 Pro Swim Series meet in Santa Clara. Watch these mostly-Olympians off the start and the turn. The 15-meter-marks are the single white buoys on the lane lines (I found it helped to pause the video to find them and then restart it to actually watch the swimmers' positioning!). Off the start, they almost all make it all the way out to that marker before surfacing, and even off the turn the top competitors are at 12-13 meters before they start their backstroke. That is part of what it takes to be the best!
Thanks to everyone who joined us yesterday for our drawing game. We learned that John and Teagan are the best at drawing with the paper on top of their heads, which doubtless will come in handy at some point.
Be sure to join us for Zoom dryland today at 4:30, so we can exercise more than just our drawing muscles!
Since we went for one of the physically toughest events yesterday, today we are looking at how to swim the seemingly easier 50 free. While it doesn't require the stamina of a 400, the 50 free is actually a pretty difficult race, because there is no room for error - a slightly delayed start, a turn that's a touch too long, or an extra breath can all be the difference between first place and eighth place. That's why it's also important to plan - and practice - your 50 free just as you would a longer event.
Demonstrating the power of putting your head down and going for the finish, we have the A final of the women's 50 free from the 2019 US Junior Nationals. The race here is pretty much anyone's when they hit the final flags, and the finish is so close that the announcer even starts to call it for the wrong person. Imagine all the single, tiny things that could have gone just ever so slightly wrong to completely change the result of a national championship win by only 0.01 seconds - with only 0.03 separately first and third! You have to get the video paused at just the right point to see the results as they aren't up for more than a second, but if you do that, you'll see that the difference between 1st and 8th, in fact, is only 0.65, and most of the field is within half a second of the winning time.
It's Monday again and that means it's almost time for our social Zoom, from 4:40-5:30 today! Everyone should bring a notebook or notepad (something you can write on that has a hard back) and a writing/drawing implement. And of course tomorrow is Zoom dryland at 4:30 (no writing devices required).
For technique today we're talking about the (dreaded?) long course 400 IM. For our younger/less experienced swimmers, this is also reasonable advice for the short course 200 IM, though once you are older and better the 200 is closer to a sprint and there is much less pacing involved. (It's also pretty easily transferred to the short course 400 IM, for those who swim that event.) While stroke technique is the basis of everything in swimming, knowing and implementing racing techniques - many of which are as much mental as physical - is what separates competitive swimmers from lap swimmers. And we are all competitive swimmers, even those who don't go to meets!
Since we're learning about the 400 IM, today's virtual swim meet race is the final of the women's 400 IM from the 2012 London Olympics. Watching this you can really see how each swimmer's weak vs strong strokes (because everyone has both, even Olympians - it's just that for them, the differences are smaller!) really change the outcome of the race. The fun fact of the day about this race, though is that Ye Shiwen went 28.93 in the final 50 - and Ryan Lochte, who won the men's 400 IM, went 29.10 for that segment. That's some pretty impressive effort from Shiwen to get out in front and grab the gold.
It's almost the weekend, and we hope everyone has something fun planned. Coach Jennie will be disappearing into the kitchen to start baking holiday cookies, so if anyone notices flour still on her face on the Monday Zoom, she asks that you just ignore it.
Speaking of the Monday Zoom...we'll be playing a drawing game that requires paper and not just the Zoom whiteboard, so everyone should make sure they have a notebook or notepad with a stiff back, as well as a pen or pencil!
For anyone who is interested, Lacamas Athletic Club (Headhunters Swim Team) is putting on an Advanced Swim Clinic later this month for swimmers from other teams whose pools are closed right now (pools in Washington remain open during that state's COVID "freeze"). It's open to advanced swimmers (probably Silver and up, though they haven't said the exact requirements) 11 & over and runs 12:30-1:30 Monday-Thursday, December 21-31. I'm not sure what the registration deadline is, but you can call 360-834-8506 if you are interested. We already have a couple of Stingrays signed up!
Our technique tip today is about the freestyle kick. This is another thing we talk about a lot - having small, fast, relatively straight-legged kicks that start from the hips, not the knees! The part about maintaining a correct position on the kickboard and in the water is spot-on, too. The kick is the foundation of the stroke (for every stroke!), so it is incredibly important to get it right if we are going to go as fast as we can!
For our virtual swim meet entry today, we are watching some excellent kickers in the final of the men's 50m freestyle from the 2016 Rio Olympics. No one does well in the 50 free without an absolutely top-notch kick, so this field offers plenty to emulate in that department. Our gold medalist here, Anthony Ervin, is repeating his win in this event from the Sydney Olympics - 16 years (and a reversed retirement) later! This race also made Ervin the oldest swimmer to win individual gold in Olympic history.
It's a fine sunny Tuesday to get outside and get some fresh air and exercise. We do have Zoom dryland today, too, from 4:30-5:15, so head out for a walk to get warmed up and then join us!
For technique today, we're looking at breaststroke. Adam Peaty is easily the best breaststroker in the world. and this video breaks down exactly what it takes to set a world record in that stroke. While none of us will be approaching Peaty's times any time soon (or, let's face it, ever...), the same basic ideas apply to all levels of competition, so take a look and think about how you can use these factors to make YOUR breaststroke as fast as it can be. [Note: if Coach John asks us to levitate and clap between pushups today in dryland, we'll tell him only if he does it first.]
Following Peaty's illustrious career, today our virtual swim meet race is the men's skins* 50 breaststroke from the 2020 ISL finals (*no, I haven't been able to find out why they call it that). In this race format, eight swimmers start in the first race. Three minutes later, the top four swim again. Three minutes after that, the top two swim to decide the final winner. (So no more complaining if you have races close together at a swim meet!) This video includes all three races, though the first one might be the most illustrative of Peaty's style and dominance - and his weak points. It's pretty clear that his incredibly powerful stroke is what allows him to overcome any other weakness in his race, as his start and turn here are not on par with several others. (Imagine the records he could set if he had a start and turn like Dressel!) It's also neat to hear in this video the advice these top swimmers are getting from their coach before the race.
We had a great week last week and look forward to another! Our Zoom social call will be today 4:30-5:30, and we'll be having a scavenger hunt. Each person will have a chance to give everyone else something to find and be the "judge" for a round!
And of course, tomorrow (Tuesday) is dryland with Coach John from 4:30-5:15 - bring a broomstick or similar pole and a 5-10lb object you can hold/lift, if you have them!
For our technique tip(s) today, we're looking at a younger swimmer showing us some very common mistakes that we work on overcoming routinely in practice. It can be really useful to actually see what your coaches are talking about when they say things like, "keep kicking through your breath instead of doing a big scissor kick" or "keep your front hand high until your other hand is in the water" (we also call this "90% catch-up" or, when Coach John is feeling particularly creative, "tomato sauce"). What the video calls "rainbow breathing" is one of the things our swimmers may be doing when we remind them to concentrate on "one-goggle breathing": we want swimmers to keep part of their lower goggle lens in the water during the entire breath. Once you see what the mistake looks like, it's easier to visualize how to make the correction! To see what it looks like when none of these mistakes are being made, you can check out the video below...
Our virtual swim meet race today is the final of the women's 4x100 free relay from the 2017 NCAA championships. If your college relay team consists of three Olympic medalists and multi-time NCAA champion, you can expect pretty great things - and in this case your expectations would definitely be fulfilled. Frankly, maybe the most amazing thing about this race is how close the Georgia and California teams manage to stay to the Stanford team. (Perhaps they gain some advantage from Ledecky not really being a sprinter...)
It's December, and what better way to warm up than to join us for Zoom dryland today at 4:30?
The last full week before we closed, Bronze was working hard on heir backstroke turns and finishes, and making sure they really had that backstroke stroke count between the flags and the wall down. But did you know that you need to double check and sometimes alter that stroke count between one pool at the next? While a tape measure may say that flags are the same distance from the wall, differences in construction or even weather can make them look different, and change your count! That's why we try to remind all our younger swimmers to check in the warm-up each time. Our more advanced swimmers also know to check on their own!
Today's virtual race is the women's 50m backstroke from the ISL Budapest meet last month. Since this video also has a lot of analysis, we'll spare you any repetition...but there are definitely things to be learned here for our more advanced swimmers, so take a look (and a listen)!
Happy Monday! We'll have our Zoom social call today, 4:30-5:30 pm, and we'll be playing Pictionary. Think of some ideas for what your teammates should draw!
For dryland tomorrow, 4:30-5:15, try to have a bar (like a broom handle - and it's fine if the broom is still attached!) and something you can hold that weighs 5-10 pounds (a textbook works great).
For technique today, because I think we all enjoy at good laugh, here's how not to swim freestyle (followed by how TO swim freestyle). Along with the entertainment, there are some really good tips here that our swimmers should recognize from practice!
Today's virtual swim meet race is the men's 50m freestyle from the Budapest International Swim League (ISL) meet earlier this month. The 50 free is always fun to watch, but there are a couple of stand-outs in this particular performance: first, Manaudou lays down a 20.77, which is only 0.51 seconds off his own world record time from six years ago - and being able to swim at age 30, and after coming out of retirement just a few months prior, the same sort of times you swam at 24 is always impressive. The second thing I like here is that if you keep watching past the end of the race till about 2:15, they show a head-on, slo-mo shot of Manadou's start, and you can really see exactly the positioning and force we talk about when we work on starts in practice!
We had a fun time on Zoom yesterday, and one of our swimmers introduced us to more fun Zoom features like hats, ears, and butterflies (always an educational experience for the coaches).
Today we have Zoom dryland 4:30-5:15 - be there or be...out of shape when it's time to swim again.
Thank you to everyone who has emailed me to donate their December fees! You all make it possible for us to continue offering programming while our pools are closed.
Our technique tip today has some great games you can play at home, too. One very important part of starts, once the basic form has been established, is reaction time. Whoever can get off the blocks first, after the start signal has been given, has a distinct advantage, especially in the sprints. (At the same time, as we've discussed with our Fast Friday groups that got to go before the "freeze," it is also important not to move at all between "take your marks" and the signal, or you could be charged with a false start - so it's all very tricky!) Today's video looks at things you can do at home to improve your reaction time. It also has a nice warm-up set that you could use any day to help keep your fitness up!
We usually try to switch up the swimmers we watch, but we're doing a double today, because this past week has been pretty amazing for Caeleb Dressel at the ISL series finals. In the final of the men's 100m butterfly on Saturday, he became the first person to break 48 seconds. There's actually not a lot more to be said about this than we already said about yesterday's race - Dressel has a phenomenal start every time he leaves the blcoks, and incredible underwaters. He takes only 24 strokes of butterfly (5 in the first length, 6 in each of the second and third lengths, and 7 in the final length - if I'm counting correctly!) in the entire race, because he spends so much time underwater and ekes every bit of power he can out of each stroke. It's harder to count previous record-holder Chad le Clos (as he's further from the camera and not in front the whole time...), but I'm pretty sure he does 5-6-7-8 - and finishes on a long stroke (meaning that his last stroke puts him a little further from the wall than ideal and there's a touch of a glide in).
Here we are with another COVID Monday...which means fun facts and races for everyone to watch!
First, though, a quick note on swim team fees: in order to avoid confusion, if you ARE willing and able to pay your regular fee for December, please let me (Jennie) know by November 30 (and many thanks to those who already have!). We are committed to continuing to provide emails and synchronous online programming at least twice a week (barring holidays) for everyone, regardless of ability to pay. The help of those who can give it makes this possible, and we very much appreciate it. Those who cannot continue to pay while we are out of the pool will just be charged a pro-rated amount (as timing indicates) once we are able to swim again.
Our technique tip of the day is back, and today (and tomorrow) it's all about starts! USA team coach Dave Durden has some detailed info on exactly how to position yourself on the blocks to get the best start possible. As a bonus here, some of the slow-mo dramatic footage actually does a great job showing how your body should be positioned as you enter the water, as well!
And speaking of great starts, today we are watching the men's 100 IM semifinal from the International Swimming League. Caeleb Dressel is the first person to break 50 seconds in the 100 IM (and this is in short course meters, not yards!), clocking a blistering 49.88 in this race. Months ago we talked about how one of Dressel's strong points is his start, which is always fast and followed by an excellent underwater, and this race is no exception. Watch how little fidgeting and position-finding he does, before the "take your marks." Not only does that mean that he is just 100% confident and secure in his position and how to find it quickly, but he has a lot more time to really concentrate on the race that is about to start, which gives him a mental edge, too. After the start, as the race progresses, he demonstrates exactly why we spend so much time in practice talking about the importance of our underwaters. Try to count his strokes in each leg - we'll get you started with the fact that he only does five strokes of butterfly, and still touches the wall first. How much easier would YOUR butterfly races be if you only needed to do five strokes per length?! And the secret to it all is staying underwater with POWERFUL dolphin kicks almost to the 15 meter mark every time. Oh, and by the way - yesterday he shattered his own record from last week and went 49.28 in the final.
This is going to be a shorter and different sort of email. As you may have heard, we got the exciting news this weekend that pools are allowed to open in Phase 1 counties, and we are eager to get back in the water. We do not yet have a firm reopening date, because our staff have been out of the water since March and we need to have some time to get them up to speed on both routine and covid-specific tasks. We are eager, though, to reopen and resume swim practice as soon as we can!
To that end, it would be very helpful if everyone (both those interested in practicing and those who aren't) could fill out our swimmer survey, so we know how many swimmers are interested in returning to practice at this point, and can put together a schedule. As with the dryland that we are currently doing, we will still be enforcing strict physical distancing, and swimmers who cannot maintain that without frequent reminders will not be permitted to continue in the program until we are in Phase 3 and distancing requirements are lifted. That means that the interactions with friends will, unfortunately, not be what our swimmers are used to having. We will be starting with one swimmer per lane, and each swimmer will have to stay in the middle of their lane at all times in order to maintain distancing from teammates in adjoining lanes. We do know that the social aspect is an important part of the team for many of our swimmers, and we understand that some would rather wait until that is once again possible before coming back to practice. We will endeavor to make swimming fun, as always!
Swimmers will need to bring their own towels, water bottles (water fountains are ONLY available for refilling bottles), and equipment (kickboard for Bronze and kickboard and pull buoy for Silver and Gold). Swim equipment is porous and thus difficult for us to disinfect properly between users, so we will not be using communal equipment. (This is also a great time to try on swimsuits that haven't been worn since March to make sure they still fit and are in good shape!) You can check out some options on Swimoutlet.com (they also have some equipment bundles that for some reason I can't get to add to our store - but if you search "bundle" at the top of the page, you can get there!). The Sporti pull buoy and Bettertimes kickboard are what we have at the pool, if swimmers want exactly what they are used to. The workouts can also be done without equipment if needed. If your swimmer would like equipment but this presents a financial hardship, please let me know as we do have resources for that.
Thanks so much for all your patience and help as we work on getting up and running!
Happy first day of school to everyone who started yesterday and today! Remember that we have no dryland on Monday, as the J will be closed for Labor Day. (If you have younger kids and are looking for something safe and fun on Labor Day, check out our drive-through version of Big Truck Day. Everyone does need to register in advance, but it's free!)
For our younger Stingrays (or younger siblings), the J is offering a few in-person sports and rec programs this fall! You can see what we are currently offering for K-5 here, and you can expect that we will be maintaining our high standards for cleanliness and adherence to CDC/OHA guidelines in all of these programs.
Here's a bit of a brain teaser of a technique drill...swimming freestyle backwards! This could be a great way to really feel the water and how we use our bodies (in this case mostly the arms and hands, along with a nice straight body line) to propel ourselves through the water. Because you are having to reverse every movement, you really have to think about it. What other athletic activity could you do in reverse today to help you think about all the tiny things you do to make it happen?
Our virtual race today is the final of the men's 200m IM from the 2019 World Championships. In 2012, Daiya Seto became the first Japanese swimmer to win a world championship in a medley event, and he has won the 200 IM , 400 IM, or both in every world championship since then, except in 2017 (when he took bronze in the 400 IM). He also took home bronze in that event in Rio, and is expected to do even better in Tokyo. (Honestly, the best part of these world meets, though, has to be the fact that your entrance is accompanied by a smoke machine...)
Don't forget tomorrow is our social Zoom at - new time! - 4:45. We'll play something fun - and we're always open to suggestions if you have any ideas!
For our technique (or more like theory, in this case) video today, we're looking at the differences between short course and long course. While the basic difference is obvious, this video goes into why swimming in short course meters is faster than long course meters, and what we do in training to work to prepare for that difference even though we (like most people all over the world) train short course. We may have missed long course season this year, but that just means we'll be all the more ready for it in 2021!
We're learning something new today about Para swimming, watching the final of the SM4 men's 150 IM from the 2016 Paralympics. Yes, you read that right - it's a 150 IM, as classes SM1-4 get to skip the butterfly and swim back/breast/free (SM 5 and up do swim fly and the full 200). New Zealander Cameron Leslie somehow still manages to make it all look easy and best (his own) world record by two and a half seconds. He won his third consecutive Paralympic gold in this event in Rio, so it's hard not to think he'll be the one to beat in Tokyo, if he swims there!
Welcome to a new week!
Remember that our dryland and Wednesday call times get pushed back to 4:45 starting today - and we wish our PPS students good luck in their first week of school!
We're doing a little back-to-basics today with our technique, looking at what to do about the Dreaded Sinking Legs that affect most swimmers as they are learning to swim and starting out on swim team (and sometimes even longer, especially in backstroke). Having an correct, efficient kick is the first key to keeping those legs up, and this video does a great job illustrating the "dos" and the "do nots!"
For our virtual race today, we're watching the final of the women's 70-74 100m butterfly from the 2017 Masters World Championships. British swimmer Judy Wilson, at age 73, just dominates the rest of the field with a butterfly technique that I think it's safe to say many of us can only aspire to. Remember that side breathing was once popular in butterfly, so even though we now see it as less efficient, the way you have learned and practiced becomes habit enough that by a certain point in your career, you tend to just stick with it. (And for anyone looking askance at the swimmer in lane 7, unlike in our meets, in Masters swimming, breaststroke kick is legal for fly.) Wilson's international debut was back in 1962, when at age 18 she brought home silver from the Commonwealth Games in the 110-yard fly (at that point, the yard races were longer to make them more equal to the meter races).
It's Friday already! We hope everyone has some fun plans for the weekend (Coach Jennie will be at home playing with her new kittens...all weekend...no breaks).
With some of our schools starting as early as next week, we are moving our dryland time to 4:45-5:30 starting this Monday, August 31. We will still be meeting Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday each week - and we do have a couple of spots open if anyone would like to register for September!
We will also be moving our Wednesday social call to 4:45, starting this coming Wednesday, the 2nd. We may occasionally skip this call due to Coach Jennie's schedule, but we will always let you know in advance if that happens.
Our technique video today is about breaststroke. This video has a few different things to think about/focus on in your breaststroke. And even without water right now, you can still visualize how your breaststroke feels, and how you could implement these tips once you are swimming again!
To stay with the theme, today's virtual swim meet race is the final of the men's S7 100m breaststroke from the 2016 Rio Paralympics. Like last week's butterfly video, the incredibly powerful kicks some of these athletes have are just amazing. Also amazing is the world-record smashing performance of 18 year-old Carlos Serrano Zárate, who had only started swimming competitively in 2013! He went on to win multiple golds (swimming every stroke except backstroke - plus the IM) at World Championships in 2017 and Parapan Ams in 2019.
It's Wednesday, so that means it's Stingrays Zoom day! Join us today at 3 for some new and creative fun and games.
In a slight change from what we said in Monday's email, due to schedule changes for Jennie, you can expect emails starting next week on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. We'll keep the Zooms on Wednesdays for now, but that may change as schedules evolve. As always, we'll keep you updated if anything changes!
Our technique tip today is another way to make your freestyle pull more powerful - engaging your core and using your body rotation to drive through the stroke. In general, our arms do not have the strongest muscles in our bodies, so anything we can do to complement our arm strength is very important. In freestyle, we do that with our body rotation, because as the hips and body rotate, it helps drive the pulling arm back, adding our core strength to our arms to amplify our efforts.
For our virtual race today, we're watching the final of the women's 50m breaststroke at Trofeo Setecolli, an important international meet in Rome that took place (for this year) a couple of weeks ago. We're watching up-and-coming 15-year-old breaststroke star Benedetta Pilato not only win the race and but also set a world junior record at 29.85. For context, Lilly King, widely regarded the best female breaststroker in the world right now, won last year's World Championships in 29.84 (Pilato took home the bronze in that event). One interesting thing about watch the 50s at the international level is to notice that while the glide is substantially shortened from what you see in the longer races, there is a clear moment of stretch, and the arms and legs are still moving separately (albeit very quickly!).
We're greeting a new week with more fun in store for our Stingrays!
As we are entering our second week of in-person dryland, and had enough space for all the swimmers who wanted to register for that, we are going to cut back our emails to M/W/F. It'll be the same great stuff, just two fewer days. Our social calls on Wednesdays will continue at 3 for now, and probably switch to 4:30 once school starts in the next couple of weeks!
Talking about technique today, we're looking at the whys for that high elbow catch we've talked about, exploring how it helps keep your shoulders happy and produces more power. Most swimmers will, unfortunately, eventually experience shoulder pain or injury, so we really want to focus on techniques that mitigate that as much as possible. Plus, it's always nice to see some of the "why" behind all these crazy things your coaches tell you you have to do!
For our virtual race today, we're watching heat 2 of the women's S5 50m butterfly from the 2016 Rio Paralympics. As you may know by now, swimmers are "old" by the time they hit their 30s, so the age range in this race is remarkable on both ends - from 40 years old to 12 years old! (And both those swimmers, Rung and Ozturk, made the final, as well.) The most remarkable thing in this race may be the incredible power that Ozturk has in her dolphin kick. Keeping up with swimmers of equal calibre doing the full stroke (or basically the full stroke) when you are only kicking is near-impossble, but Ozturk does it! She bettered her time by about 2 seconds to take bronze at the World Championships last year, so she will be one to watch in Tokyo.
We've made it through our first week of dryland! We do have two spots left, if anyone would still like to register for the rest of this month or for September. Because this is different from the other MJCC programs currently being offered, all the registration goes through Coach Jennie, so be sure to email or call the aquatics office rather than the front desk.
We've talked a far amount about high elbows in the freestyle, and that means that YouTube knows we're very interested and suggests even more videos about it. This video is worth checking out, because it does a great job explaining the "why," and also several ways to achieve the "how." Of course, this is the technique we also want to mirror in backstroke, except since it's upside down the elbow should be lower than the hand instead of higher.
For our virtual race today, we're watching a hard-fought women's 200m IM final from the 2019 Pro Swim Series meet in Greensboro. This race really shows how important having a good breaststroke is to being successful in the IMs, even though it's often an IMer's weakest stroke. (Clearly not the case here, as Cox also won the 200 breast!)
It's another fun Thursday, and we hope everyone is enjoying the last bits of summer vacation!
We haven't talked about turns in awhile, other than our underwater dolphin piece on Tuesday, so here's a fairly quick overview of the turns for every stroke. Coach Bauerle hits the key points on each turn as the swimmer demonstrates - do your turns follow these directions? And if not, what can you do to improve them once we are back in the water?
Our virtual swim meet race today is the S1 final of the men's 100m free from the 2014 IPC European Championships (IPC was the former name for what is now Para Swimming). As our more well-read swimmers like to point out regularly, in a freestyle race you can actually swim any stroke (except in the freestyle leg of the IM or medley relay, when you have to swim a stroke other than backstroke, breaststroke, or butterfly), and here we see that prinicipal in action, as many of these swimmers cannot swim front crawl due to the breathing technique needed or just find backstroke faster given their particular abilities. Do note, though, that when your coach says "freestyle" in practice, they mean "front crawl"...and no amount of arguing is going to change that. ;-)
In "celebration" of our 157th day out of the water, we have this video that we found on precisely this topic...
Don't forget our social Zoom today at 3!
Our technique video for today is about relay exchanges - here are several different ways to do your relay start, depending on your skill and comfort level. This video is a couple of years old, so you should know that the 6th and final technique is now illegal for USA Swimming as well, which is good news because it's also very difficult and potentially unsafe, despite the power it can add to the start. In general, we would also disagree with the advice to finish on a long stroke instead of a short stroke. Though that would probably work if all the team agreed to it and practiced that way, the more common advice, and that which we practice, is for the swimmer in the water to swim hard all the way into the way. Doing a long glide in makes your finish speed less predictable than swimming hard all the way to the wall.
Our virtual swim meet race today is the mixed 4x100 free relay from the 2007 Duel in the Pool. "Duel in the Pool" was a meet that happened in odd-numbered years, pitting the US against other top opponents (Australia from 2003-2007, and 2009-2015 an all-star team from Europe). It was meant to be a way to develop international-level swimmers and increase excitement for American swimming with the "rivalry" format, but eventually the sponsor withdrew and it seems USA Swimming hasn't been able to find a new one. At any rate, the remarkable lead-off swim here from Australia did not result in a world record, as the mixed relay format was not a FINA-recognized event. Libby Lenton (now Trickett) did improve her time to swim a 52.88 the next year at the Australian National Championships, though, and so holds her spot on the world record list and on the all-time top 25 (currently 8th on a 52.62).
We had an awesome first day of dryland yesterday (Coach Jennie is still a little sore...) - thank you to everyone who came!
We'll have our weekly social call tomorrow (Wednesday) at 3 - come join us for some less exhausting fun!
For athletes 13 & over, Oregon Swimming is doing a series of calls on diversity, equity, and inclusion, to help educate our swimmers about these important topics and foster a more inclusive environment in competitive swimming. The first call is this Friday, August 21, at 3:30 pm, and will be presented by members of the USA Swimming DEI staff. You can register for the call here.
For technique today, we are checking out the underwater dolphin kick. Underwater dolphin kicks are a key part of the start and every turn in freestyle, backstroke, and butterfly - and a little bit in breaststroke, too (remember: in breaststroke you get one single dolphin kick off the start and off each wall as part of your pull-down). In fact, that underwater kick is so important that it is commonly referred to as "the fifth stroke," to be mastered alongside the traditional four. While we can't practice it right now, watching the video and the all-angles underwater footage it includes can help us remember how it should go when we are back in the water!
Our virtual swim meet race today is the final of the women's 100 yard free at the 2015 NCAA Div 1 Championships. I couldn't find a version with commentary, but we're watching Simone Manuel (lane 4), Lia Neal (lane 2), and Natalie Hinds (lane 5) finish 1-2-3, marking the first time Black athletes have won all three medals in an NCAA event. Manuel sets an NCAA and American record, and Hinds betters her own University of Florida record. All in all, it's quite the race!
Happy Monday! We're super excited for our first in-person dryland today with everyone who registered - it's going to be great to see some of our swimmers in person again.
Don't forget that we are moving our weekly social Zoom to Wednesdays at 3, so join us for fun and games in a couple of days!
For technique today, we're looking at some backstroke advice. One thing that this video doesn't specifically mention (but you can see when you watch the underwater footage) is thinking about keeping your hand closer to the surface during the pull. This helps keep the elbow lower than the hand and bent, as well as making sure you aren't wasting energy by pulling down towards the bottom of the pool instead of pulling back towards your feet.
And for our virtual swim meet race today, we're watching the final of the women's 200m backstroke at the 2019 World Championships. Like many Stingrays I have known, Regan Smith didn't like backstroke when she was younger, because she was afraid of hitting her head on the wall - but she certainly overcame that! She's definitely one to watch for Tokyo next year.
Happy Friday! It looks like this weekend is going to be another hot one..time to break out the wading pools again.
We're super excited to start dryland on Monday. Those who signed up should look for an email with all the info (pretty much what we've already said, but in one place to make it easier) later on today.
For technique today, we have some tips on improving your butterfly. You might recognize some of these drills (or at least a form of them)! Everyone can count themselves lucky, though, to never have been asked to do the flutter kick with butterfly arms, because that looks like a killer. It's definitely not a drill we would suggest for younger swimmers, as it would discourage the feel of rhythm with the kick and the arms, and as the video notes early on, rhythm is the key to butterfly.
In our virtual swim meet today we're watching the final of the men's 100m butterfly from the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. West German Michael Groß (doomed forever to having his name misspelled by non-German keyboards!) and American Pablo Morales battle it out in the center of the pool, both finishing under Morales' previous world record time. This is also another entry in the "cool nicknames" category, as Gross' height gave him a huge armspan, earning him the nickname "The Albatross." Also a fun fact: the second commentator in this video is Mark Spitz, who we watched yesterday!
Just a reminder that paperwork is due today for those who want to sign up for August dryland!
Here's some swimming entertainment to make your day more fun: last week, Katie Ledecky posted a video showing us just how smooth her freestyle is. Mark Spitz decided to show us he still has it (albeit over a shorter distance) and posted his own - but then decided freestyle wasn't good enough and upped the challenge to butterfly! No word yet on whether Caeleb Dressel will respond..
For our technique video today, we're taking a look at a swim set designed to encourage that smooth freestyle. While we can't actually do these drills or swim the set, it's still useful to think about what each of these drills is working on, and why that detail is important to the overall stroke. Then maybe some day we will swim a set like this in practice!
Finally, for our virtual swim meet race today, we're watching Mark Spitz (lane 4) in his prime in the final of the men's 200m freestyle at the 1972 Munich Olympics. That's some smooth freestyle for sure - all the way to the world record!
Coach Jennie is back to civilization, and we are looking forward to seeing everyone for our last Zoom dryland today at 3:30! Starting next week, dryland will be in-person for those who have registered. You do have till tomorrow to get your paperwork in, and we still have three spots available! You can download the registration forms here. Check out our August 4th entry in the "Daily Updates" section for all the details.
Also, remember that our social calls will be switching to Wednesdays at 3 starting next week. Both these and the dryland will start later in September, once school starts - stay tuned for exact times!
Diving right into our technique tip today (which is not about diving...), we're looking at developing a faster freestyle through your kick. This video does a great job breaking down exactly where your kicks should be and how they really drive your stroke. It's not just the quantity (though that is of paramount importance), but also how the kick helps drive your body rotation and thus your speed and efficiency.
For our virtual swim meet entry today, we're watching the world record get obliterated in the final of the mixed 4x50m 20-point relay from the 2016 Paralympics in Rio. In mixed relays in international competition, teams have to consist of two men and two women. You may remember that we learned a couple of months ago that para athletes are classified by the severity of their functional disability, with S1 being the most impaired and S10 the least (additional classifications also exist for visual (S11-S13), intellectual (S14), and hearing (S15) impairments). This ensures that competition is fair, as athletes are competing against others with similar physical ability as it relates to swimming. For relays, the classifications of each athlete on a team have to add up to no more than the number of points listed (20, in this case). Depending on how many athletes a county has in the competition, you can imagine there will be a fair bit of strategy involved in who swims in the relay final! (For those wondering, the Israeli team's disqualification was because their second swimmer did not exit the water in time - only S1-S5 swimmers are allowed to remain in the water for the duration of the event.)
We still have five spots left for in-person dryland! We'll be starting August 17, Mon/Tue/Thurs from 3:45-4:30. A couple of people have asked about the timing, and yes, we will move it back once the school year starts, as needed. We'll talk to those who are registered to make sure we have a time that works with everyone's school schedule! Check out Tuesday's email for all the details.
Another quick reminder: Jennie will be out tomorrow (Friday) through Tuesday the 11th, so there won't be emails on those days and we will not have our Tuesday social call. We will see you again for our last virtual dryland on Wednesday at 3:30!
We're keeping it in butterfly-land today, looking at the butterfly breakout. A lot of swimmers probably aren't thinking much about their breakout for butterfly, because it feels a little more seamless than the other strokes, where you are changing your kick from dolphin to flutter (free and back) or doing a special underwater stroke (breaststroke). That said, really feeling the timing for butterfly and executing a smooth, correct first stroke is at least as hard as any of the other three strokes.
For our virtual race today, we are watching the fastest fly ever, as Ukraine's Andriy Govorov sets a world record in the final of the 50m fly at the 2018 Sette Colli Trophy meet in Rome. (If you convert the times, this is also faster than the short course world record.) What is amazing here is not just the fast swim, but that Govorov actually has a pretty poor start here, and his stroke is clearly less efficient than it could be, with his arms flung further up in the recovery than needed. If he fixed those two issues, he could pretty easily go under 22 seconds.
Don't forget to fill out your forms to sign up for in-person dryland, which will start August 17! You can email the forms or bring them to the J; just remember that Thursday, August 13 is the deadline to register. Check out yesterday's email for all the details.
Today we have our second-to-last Zoom dryland at 3:30 - be there or be...out of shape.
For technique today, we're looking at head position in the butterfly. This one gets all scientific, and is a great for our older swimmers who would like a data-driven approach to improving their butterfly. The technique that the video lands on as best is actually how our best flyers are swimming already, so good job to them!
For our virtual race today, we're watching some more great butterfly in the final of the men's 200 fly from the 2019 International Swimming League meet in Budapest. Long course world record holder Kristóf Milák seals his win in the last few meters. Those of us who are not butterflyers can't imagine having that kind of energy still left in the last 15 meters of a 200 fly!
We have some exciting news today: we will be starting in-person dryland on Monday, August 17! Our sessions will be 3:45-4:30, Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, and will continue as long as we have sufficient interest (and state rules allow), until the pools open. The cost will be $80/month for members and $95/month for guests (August will be pro-rated to half of those amounts). If you already paid for August, you will not be charged again until September!
Our dryland workouts will happen in the gymnasium, with at least 12' of space between participants. We encourage each participant to bring their own water bottle (water fountains are only available for refilling bottles) and yoga-type mat, so that seated and prone exercises are more comfortable. Other equipment will be provided and sanitized (along with the gym floor) after each session; no equipment or other items may be shared between participants (other than siblings living in the same household). Locker rooms are not open, so everyone needs to come and go in the clothes they work out in.
All participants must wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth the entire time they are in the building, including for the duration of the workout. (Masks may be pulled down briefly while taking a drink.) Bandanas are not acceptable; it needs to be a mask-style covering. If a participant desires, a face shield may be worn in addition to but not in place of a mask. Masks with valves may only be worn if another mask is worn over them. We have disposable masks available at the front door, and we also have some special gifts for our Stingrays that we'll hand out on the first day!
Physical distancing will be strictly enforced - we aim for MORE than 6' between participants so that we have some room for safe error. We know that the masks and the distancing may be very difficult for some of our swimmers, but safety must always be our #1 consideration. We ask that you talk to your swimmer about these things before registering, and if you/they think that these rules will be too difficult to follow without frequent reminders, consider that this may not be the right opportunity for them. As always, if we have a participant who is creating an unsafe environment for others, that participant will be withdrawn from the program. We really, really don't want to have to make that decision, so your help setting expectations beforehand is greatly appreciated!
Finally, parents/spectators will not be able to wait in the building. We will meet everyone outside near the front door, and bring all our participants in together (it's helpful if you can be here a couple of minutes early, to facilitate this process). Before entering, we will take each participant's temperature and ask a couple of questions: whether they have been around anyone with covid-19 and whether they have certain symptoms (we hope that it goes without saying - but we're going to say it anyway! - that if your swimmer HAS been around anyone with a diagnosed covid-19 infection in the past two weeks or has covid-19-like symptoms, you should keep them home and follow CDC guidelines for quarantine or isolation, as appropriate). At the end of the session, we will all come back out together via the side exit that faces the sportsplex. We do have several shady places around the parking lot and in front of the sportsplex where you can wait if it doesn't make sense to drive home; please just continue to observe physical distancing between families and wear a mask if you are at all close to anyone else. We want all of our families to stay healthy, and we want to demonstrate that non-contact youth sports CAN happen safely when everyone is on board to handle the entire process responsibly.
Because all youth programs in Phase 1 counties are required to operate under the summer camp guidelines, this opportunity will be limited to ten participants. We had six swimmers express interest when we asked a few weeks ago, so first priority will go to those swimmers and after that it will be on a first-come basis in the order we receive paperwork. We do need to have all three of these pages fully completed and returned to us (email is fine!) no later than Thursday, August 13. (But the sooner, the better, so we can plan properly!) If someone other than the parents listed on the form will be picking up or dropping off your swimmer, please let us know (again, email is fine) first and last name and phone number for that person. If your swimmer will be walking/biking/etc on their own, please also let us know that. (We are required to have this information on file under the camp covid regulations.) If you don't have the ability to print forms at home, please let me (Jennie) know and we can arrange for you to pick up hard copies at the J.
Whew - that was a lot of information! Please let us know if you have any questions or anything needs clarification.
And after all that...don't forget our Zoom social call today at 3 pm, so we can all stump each other with riddles and brain teasers. Zoom dryland will also continue this Wednesday and next Wednesday at 3:30 (we will stop doing the Zoom version once the in-person dryland starts on the 17th). Also starting the week of the 17th, we'll switch our social call to Wednesdays at 3 (if that needs to be later once school starts, please let us know), so that we don't interfere with dryland on Tuesdays.
Jennie will be out of the office this Friday, August 7 through Tuesday, August 11, so don't look for emails those days. We also will (sadly) skip our social call next week (August 11) for that reason.
Today, we're going to take an in-depth look at freestyle flip turns. This video is nice because it shows the progression (which many of our swimmers probably remember doing!) and some of the theory behind how to do a really good flip turn. On thing to note, though, is that while the instructions here advise using the "T" on the bottom of the pool to judge distance, we tell swimmers to flip when they are just about to touch the wall with their forward hand. For reasons lost to history, the Ts on our pool are not the standard distance from the wall, so if you use them, when you go to another pool you will be trying to flip much too soon!
Our virtual swim meet race today is the S1 final of the men's 100m back at the 2016 Rio Paralympics. Watch as Hennadii Boiko of Ukraine takes an unbelievable 15 seconds off of his own world record from earlier in the same year!
Happy August! We're working hard to enjoy our last full month of this weird summer as much as we can, and we hope you are, too.
Don't forget our two fun events this week: Zoom social call tomorrow at 3, where we'll be stumping each other with riddles and brain teasers (come prepared with your favorites!); and our Zoom dryland on Wednesday at 3:30!
Open water swimming has become a big thing this year with pools closed around the country, and here's a little video so you can see if you have what it takes to be a true open water swimmer - where the races start at 5000 meters! (Obligatory coaches' note: please don't try practicing in open water unless you are with someone who knows all the details necessary to do so safely, and don't swim without a lifeguard present!)
To swim a good freestyle, whether it's 50m or 10k, the catch is a key component. Notice that there are no straight arms here, nor any crossing over from one side of the body to the other. That catch, where you first grab the water with your hand so that you can use it to push yourself forward, sets you up for success - and that means speed and efficiency - for the entire stroke. Think about your arm and hand position when you swim: are you getting the most out of your catch?
For our race today, we're watching the men's 100m free final from the 2012 London Olympics. Like some of what we saw last week, this is a race where every little bit of technique mattered, as it came down to just 0.01 seconds separating gold and silver at the touch! If Adrian had made even one tiny mistake, or if Magnusson had made the smallest of improvements, the result could have been flipped.
TGIF! It looks like another nice weekend to enjoy the great outdoors (with those in your household, of course).
The first has snuck up on us again, so if you are willing to be charged for Stingrays for August, please shoot me an email over the weekend. If we are able to start dryland in person in August, we will apply anything you pay towards that; we wouldn't ask for more!
For our technique thoughts today, we're taking another look at front starts. In addition to all the important things they talk about in the video, it's important to notice the explosive effect all of this has on the final result. Look at how the blocks - which, as we all know, are pretty sturdy - move when the swimmer goes off. THAT'S the kind of force we want to see swimmers using when they dive!
For our virtual swim meet entry today, we're looking at a swim-off with two great sprinters, one of whom (Caeleb Dressel), is widely considered to have the best starts in the world. If you watch the start of this race carefully, you'll see Dressel looks just a little faster in reaction time, and then goes further and enters just a touch more cleanly than Jones (he also has a great underwater off the turn). He then comes up half a body length ahead, and though Jones puts up a great effort to close the gap, when it comes down to just 0.16 seconds at the finish that great start and turn really makes the difference.
It's another lovely day in Stingray-land, and we have more things to learn and see today!
Today we're looking at the shoulder roll in backstroke. When you watch this video, you'll see some excellent slow motion footage of where the shoulders and the body should be as each stroke happens. As the narrator notes, though they are referring to this as a "drill," it's actually just swimming REALLY GOOD backstroke. Rolling the shoulders so that the recovery shoulder is at the surface and the pulling shoulder is below the surface makes the body more streamlined and gives more power to the stroke - while also working to prevent injuries.
For our virtual swim meet race today, we're watching an exciting final of the men's 100m backstroke at the 2019 World Championships. Short course world record holder Xu Jiayu is ready to show everyone what he's got in an incredibly close race with less than a second between first and seventh places! Looking at these times - especially Ryan Murphy missing the podium by 0.01 seconds - really shows how much every single tiny detail can count when it comes down to the final result.
Happy hump day! And as everyone knows, the BEST thing about hump day is that it's also time for dryland with Coach John at 3:30. Coach Jennie is in a training all day today and tomorrow, so these emails will be brief.
We have a different kind of technique today, as we watch a conversation with Jamaican swimmer Michael Gunning, who talks about staying positive through quarantine and beyond. It's easy to think of technique as purely physical, but attitude is a huge part of success in swimming (and every other sport). You can be the best technical swimmer in the world, but if you don't think positively in practice and at meets, you are very unlikely to ever reach your full potential.
Our virtual swim meet race today is the final of the women's 100m freestyle from the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki. Here's a much earlier example of winning from a less desirable lane, and by a decent margin, at that. As you may remember from earlier videos, this was before ties were allowed to stand at the Olympics, and the three-way tie for third was adjudicated, so the bronze when only to Judit Temes.
We have the traditional dual reminders about our Zoom call today at 3:00 and Zoom dryland tomorrow at 3:30. Today we'll be playing "Would You Rather" - come with your own questions, or Coach Jennie will have some!
We've done a lot of breaststroke recently, so today we're looking at a very simple tool to help with everyone's other favorite stroke, freestyle. While this trick is demonstrated in a pool, it would also work almost as well just lying on the edge of your bed. You won't have the water resistance that way, but you can still focus on your hand position as you move through the stroke. Maybe most importantly, you can feel where your hand and arm should be, always on the correct side of your body without crossing over the centerline. Then, when we are back in the pool, you can swim your freestyle imagining that there is a wall extending right down from your centerline, and ALWAYS keep those hands on the correct side of that wall.
For our virtual swim meet today, we are watching the final of the women's 100m free from the 2019 World Championships. (It's worth watching the replay of this race that they do right after the finish, just for the announcer's enthusiasm...) This race illustrates that there is no such thing as a "bad lane" if you are really determined. In fact, being in the outside lane where you aren't considered a real "threat" can even be a benefit if you just run (well, swim) with it!
Welcome to another sunny Monday!
Tomorrow is our Zoom social call at 3. Topic TBD - we'll be playing a game of some kind, maybe one we've already played, maybe something new. Tune in to find out!
And of course on Wednesday we have dryland with Coach John at 3:30. Hopefully it's a little cooler by then so the workout isn't EXTRA hard!
For our technique thoughts today, we're taking the opposite approach to last week's very focused breaststroke video and looking at the stroke overall. In addition to all the valuable advice in the video (this is another of those that is really good for both younger and more advanced swimmers!), there are two things to notice about the swimmer. First, when you watch the arm recovery, there is no pause when he has his hands under his chin. Lots of swimmers like to take a little "break" there and have more time for the breath, but if you are breathing out underwater (as you should be in every stroke except backstroke), you should only need a tiny bit of time to breathe in, and there is ample time for that in the normal rhythm of the stroke without adding an extra pause. The hands should (as this swimmer's do) actually *accelerate* through the recovery, not pause at the beginning of it. The second thing of note is how he really lunges forward into the recovery with his upper body. It's not just a passive movement following the hands, but a separate (though connected) effort to move the whole body forward through the water towards the end of the pool.
Our virtual swim meet race today is the final of the men's 100m breaststroke from the 2009 World Championships, featuring our swimming model from the above technique video, Brenton Rickard. (We watched Kosuke Kitajima a few weeks ago, who held the record at 58.91 before this race (and he held the record first in textile and later in the supersuit), and Cameron van der Burgh, in lane 5 here, would set a new record textile in London in 2012.) Rickard was the first Australian male since 1964 to win an Olympic or world title in breaststroke. Australia tends to turn out excellent freestylers, but breaststroke has never been their forte!
It's shaping up to be a toasty hot weekend, so we hope you all have some plans to stay cool as the heat takes over.
Today we're talking breaststroke, and to start we're looking at a very specific bit of timing: where to start the recovery to begin the kick. As we've discussed before, the timing of breaststroke is something that takes a long time to get right, and in many cases, even our more advanced swimmers could work on polishing. Sometimes the best way to figure these things out is to drill it down to one little moment, like the video does here. Notice that the swimmer's legs remain still and pointed out behind him through the ENTIRE arm pull, and the legs don't start moving until the arm recovery is about to begin. Remembering this will make your breaststroke faster and easier!
Our virtual swim meet race today is another duel to the wall: the final of the men's 100m breaststroke from the 2019 Pro Swim Series meet in Bloomington. Michael Andrew and Cody Miller are battling it out with a swim that put both of them into the top 25 in the US for 2019 (under a minute at a mid-season meet is always impressive). When you are racing and it's super close like this race, what are you thinking? How to you make sure that you're the one who gets your hand(s) on the wall first?
Thanks for tuning in to another fun Thursday email!
Today, we're taking a look at backstroke technique with Puerto Rican swimmer Eric Culver. This video has an overview of a few things to think about when swimming backstroke, and if you put it together with the bent elbow during the pull that we talked about a few days ago, you'll be well on your way to a great backstroke. "Hips up," as discussed here with visuals for where that should be MIGHT be the most frequent reminder we give to younger backstrokers!
Our virtual swim meet race today is the final of the women's 400m freestyle from the 2019 US Open. We've watched some close races recently, but here's a change to that trend - as we pretty much expect at this point in a mid-distance (or longer) race when Katie Ledecky is one of the competitors. Sometimes it's just fun to watch a swimmer totally dominate a race!
It's our favorite day of the week: dryland day! Join us for some torture from Coach John on Zoom at 3:30.
Our technique video today is about the physics of swimming (or at least, the physics of some parts of swimming). Swimmers who are old enough to understand some physics will appreciate these thoughts, and younger swimmers who maybe can't understand the math quite yet will also get to see that there really are reasons that we do some of the crazy things we do in swimming, like flip turns and making everyone streamline off EVERY wall!
Our virtual race today is the final of the women's 200m breaststroke from the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. American Anita Nall, the world record holder, was the favorite to win, but Japan's Kyoko Iwasaki came from behind to pass Nall and silver medalist Lin Li (you might remember her from an earlier email!) to set the Olympic record and become the youngest gold medalist ever in swimming. She was just six days past her 14th birthday! Iwasaki is slated to be one of the torch-bearers for the now-2021 Olympics, carrying the torch Shizuoka, her home prefecture, as it closes in on Tokyo.
It's Tuesday, so that means it's Stingrays Zoom day - come play 20 Questions with us at 3!
And of course, be sure to join us tomorrow for dryland at 3:30 - fun will be had by all.
Our technique tip today is a very short video, and this one is aimed mostly at our Bronze swimmers: breaststroke kicking with flat feet. What you'll see here in the first half of the video is the swimmer kicking with her toes pointed. This is incorrect, against the rules, and very slow! In the second half, you will see what your coaches mean by "flat feet" when we yell it during practice, and dance around on one foot on the pool deck so that we can try to demonstrate... Kicking with your feet flat (and turned out) instead of pointed gets you pushing the water out behind you with the bottoms of your feet, and even though it will seem awkward and slow at first, you will go much faster when you get the hang of it.
Our virtual swim meet entry today is the final of the women's 100m breaststroke at the 2019 Pro Swim Series in North Carolina. This is another chance for our more advanced breaststrokers to see how the stroke tempo changes from the first 50 to the second 50 - but it never becomes a crazy thrash through the water with no glide! The other - maybe more obvious to everyone - crazy thing about this race is how tight the finish is. If you look at the times at the end, it's 0.06 between 1st and 2nd, 0.09 between 2nd and 3rd, and 0.06 again between 3rd and 4th: so not even a quarter of a second separates 1st and 4th. When you swim a race like this, every little bit of your technique counts, and that's why we talk about technique every day!
It's a sunny and hot Monday - and we still can't get in the pool to cool off. :-( But if you have a sprinkler, hose, or super soaker, today is definitely the the day to dust it off and have some water fun anyway!
For our technique tip today, we're going with the mental side of technique. This video does an excellent job explaining how to set good goals in swimming (and in life!). I would encourage all our swimmers to watch it, and most especially Silver and Gold swimmers. Start thinking about what your goals might be once we are back in the water - keeping in mind that we might need to adjust timelines or opportunities as we find out more about when we can swim again and what competition might look like. I would encourage swimmers to set technique- or fitness-based goals this year: "I will be dolphin kicking 6 yards underwater off every wall in freestyle by December," or "I'll be able to do 10 x 50 free on the :45 and hold under 30 seconds for each repeat by the end of the season." Technique and fitness will be our team goals as we get back in the water!
Our virtual swim race today is from an intra-squad meet (which is like a time trial, but officially sanctioned) held this past weekend by the TAC Titans swim club in North Carolina. (Go forward to about 2:31:30 - it's the last heat in the video. Or, if you are feeling nostalgic for the three of heat after heat of people you don't know at a swim meet, you can watch the whole thing! ;-)) Sixteen year-old Claire Curzan beat her own age group record of 21.77 in the 50 free, going 20.51 out of lane 1. Later in the meet, Curzan also swam under the national age group records in the 100 free and 100 fly - in fact, her 100 fly time of 50.03 would put her in 7th place all-time in the women's 100 fly scy. None of her times will count as records, though, as USA Swimming said that times for July meets will only count within the LSC and not nationally. But, barring injury, if she was able to swim that fast in July, she'll be able to do it again soon!
When I realized that today was number 1-2-3 since our email fun started, I was immediately reminded of Stingrays Slideshows Past and got this song stuck in my head. We miss you all!
For technique today, we're looking at backstroke - and more specifically an error that we see swimmers making from their beginning years all the way up through championship competitions! As highlighted here, many swimmers want to swim backstroke with the arms straight (or mostly straight) during the underwater pull, which is bad for your shoulders and bad for your efficiency and speed. By bending the elbow underwater, less torque is put on the shoulder AND water can be pushed straight down towards the feet with maximum force. This ends up being kind of like you throw a ball - your elbow remains bent through the throw until the very end as you release the ball, because that gives you more power in the throw. Try it at home (outside!), and see if you can throw the ball further (and thus with more power) with your arm straight through the entire process or with the elbow bent until the release...and then apply those results to your swimming!
Since some of our swimmers have been watching Touch the Wall, the documentary about Missy Franklin, today's virtual swim meet race is the final of the women's 200m backstroke from the 2012 London Olympics. This was Franklin's third gold medal (out of four) in London, as she had already won gold in the 100m back and the 4x200 free relay. She would go on to win gold - and set another world record - as part of the 4x100 medley relay team. She remains one of only four women to ever go under 2:05 in the 200m back (and two of those were in supersuits); her world record stood until Regan Smith became the first woman to go under 2:04 at the World Championships last year. If you haven't watched Touch the Wall yet, it's definitely recommended swimmer viewing - it's available on iTunes and Prime Video.
Good news: we not only met but exceeded our fundraising goal for the pool deck showers! Thank you to everyone who was able to donate - and stayed tuned to the MJCC Facebook page in the next couple of weeks for pictures of the finished product. We can't wait to put them to use!
For technique today, we are looking at the timing of the kick in butterfly. Except for those who are just natural flyers (and we love you even though we are super jealous), this - along with the timing of the breath - may be one of the hardest single skills to master in all of swimming. But the good news is it's something you can work on at home while we are all landlocked, too. For me (Jennie), just demonstrating this correctly on the pool deck during practice for all these years has really improved my timing in the water, so it definitely works!
For our virtual swim meet race today, we are watching the final of the men's 200m fly from the 2019 World Championships. Michael Phelps held the world record in this event for 18 years, first setting it in 2001 and bettering it seven times, setting his 1:51.51 that Milák is going for here in 2009 in the supersuit era. (For better comparison, the textile world record prior to Milák was a 1:52.96 swum by le Clos in 2012; Milák first bettered that in 2018 with a 1:52.71.) It's probably safe to say that Milák will hold that record for some time himself!
Just a reminder that due to a scheduling conflict, we will not have Zoom dryland today - but we should be back next week!
If you aren't on our members MJCC email list, you might have missed our latest fundraising excitement! Looking ahead to Phase 2, we're raising money to put showers on the pool deck so that swimmers can rinse off before and after swimming without having to have a staff member escorting them into the locker rooms for that purpose. Deck showers will also be a huge help even post-covid for making sure younger Stingrays/Junior Rays and swim lesson participants rinse off before getting in the pool even when they don't have a same-gender parent to help them in the locker room. We're already a little over 60% of the way to our $4000 goal for our showers, and if you'd like to help push us over the line, you can contribute to our campaign here!
For today, we'll be looking at some common mistakes in freestyle. Sometimes it's just as useful to know what often goes wrong as it is to look at how to do it right (and luckily, this video shows both)! Every one of these mistakes is indeed common, and we see and correct them all every day in practice - even our best swimmers are guilty of at least occasionally trying one or more of these on for size. Think about when you swim, or try it in front of a mirror - how many of these feel familiar?
Our virtual swim meet race today is [highlights from] the women's 400m free final at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics. If you watch carefully, you'll see plenty of what we today would call mistakes in freestyle, but then were world-class strokes. That does explain, though, why the Olympic record was set in this race at 5:12.1, but today stands at 3:56.46!
Don't forget to bring us your funny pictures to show off today at 3!
Coach John has an unexpected meeting tomorrow that can't be rescheduled, so we are cancelling dryland for this week. We'll be back next week, and are working towards in-person options for the future!
Our technique video today features some tips for swimming the 200 free. This is geared towards our more advanced swimmers, but it's always good to see what you will be working towards even for swimmers who haven't swum a 200 yet! You might notice that this has a bit of a common theme with the videos we watched last month about the 200 IM: as the races get longer, the turns get more and more important. That's why we talk about turns so much in practice!
Our virtual race of the day is the final of the men's 200m free from the 2015 FINA World Championships. Here we get to see James Guy putting into practice all the things he talks about in the video above. Guy's underwaters may look a bit weak here, but swimming next to Ryan Lochte, who has some of the best underwaters in the game, would make anyone pale in comparison! You can certainly see Guy's preferred finish style serving him well, as he pulls out the win by a scant six hundredths of a second.
It's hard to believe it's Monday already...but here we are!
For our technique tip today, we're looking at freestyle breathing - both the technique at the pattern. Getting really good at freestyle breathing takes a lot of practice, and usually some water swallowed here and there, too. (Just don't make a habit of that - yuck!) You should also know that when the coach talks about "when you get older" in this video, that means college age, or maybe late high school for the really top swimmers (like those going to nationals). So for our swimmers, that means everyone should still be breathing every 3, 5, or 7 strokes in practice - and maybe even less in competition, depending on the race!
Our virtual swim meet race today is for everyone who's ever lost their goggles diving in for a race. This is a women's 50 free heat from the 2017 Energy for Swim meet in Italy. Even Olympians lose their goggles sometimes - and they just keep swimming for the win! (Sjostrom would go on to win in the final, as well.) The competition they are swimming is called a "skins [or skin] race" (no idea where the name comes from): in the format of this meet, it starts with 8 swimmers in the first heat. Three minutes later, the second heat is swum with the top four swimmers from the first heat. Three minutes after that, the final is swum with the top two swimmers from the second heat, and then the winner is declared. So this is also one for our swimmers (especially our HS swimmers) who have those races with short turn-around times in between!
TGIF! It looks like it's going to be a nice weekend, so get outside and get some exercise - and have some fun!
Please remember to let us know if your swimmer would be interested in team in-person dryland, as we talked about earlier this week. So far we have 4-5 interested, and would need a couple more to make it work.
For our technique tip today, we are back to looking at the breaststroke cycle - that is, the order in which we pull, breathe, kick, and glide while swimming breaststroke. Almost universally, beginning breaststrokers do their kick and pull at the same time. That's not just inefficient, it's also against the rules... That's why coaches are constantly yelling some version of "Pull-breathe-kick-glide!" during breaststroke - it's not just because we like to yell! Always remember swimming breaststroke that your arms and your legs should never be moving at the same time.
Our virtual swim meet race today is the final of the women's 50m free from the 2012 London Olympics. The 50 free at this level is always a close race, but as the announcers note, this is actually the second largest win margin ever in the women's Olympic 50 free! Swimmers should also watch the finish carefully (they do it in slow motion later in the video) and see if you can tell what the winner's coach probably yelled at her about after the race...
It's almost Friday, and we're just going to dive right into the fun stuff!
Our technique tip today is actually a compilation of tips on how to swim faster. All of these tips will likely be familiar to all of our swimmers...and here's proof that it's not just crazy stuff that Coach John and Coach Jennie come up with! Becoming a fast swimmer involves a lot of hard work and a lot of attention to detail.
Our virtual swim meet race today is the men's 200m butterfly final from the 2000 Sidney Olympics. This was Michael Phelps' first Olympic race, and he was just 15 years old. There are two interesting things about this race (other than it being the first of many gold medals for Phelps): you can really see the changing of the suit technology here, with swimmers in the whole gamut of available styles. If you went back to the 1996 Olympics, you would see almost all "speedo" style briefs; jump forward to 2004 and it is almost all full leg versions (with or without the torso covered). So this video shows a little bit of evolution in action! (Remember this is all before the supersuit era, which was in 2008-2009.) The second thing to look at is the breathing: most of these swimmers are breathing to the side rather than the front. It looks odd now, but at the time it was (clearly) a popular way of swimming fly. Breathing to the side has the potential advantage of not disrupting the body line as much, which is why it was the thing to do for a few years in the 90s and early 00s. The disadvantage, though, is it means breathing earlier in the stroke and giving up some of the body undulation power (as well as making it harder to have a really good recovery of the arm on the side to which the breath happens) - which is why it eventually fell out of favor, and you rarely see it done intentionally today.
It's hump day again, and that means it's dryland day, too, at 3:30!
The Oregonian reported today that the tri-county area does not anticipate making it to Phase 2 in July, which is of course sad for all of us who are eagerly awaiting swimming again. As we move forward with this, we're interested in knowing how many swimmers would be interested in a 3ish times a week in-person dryland workout. This would probably be in the afternoon in the gymnasium (which is already in use for adult group ex classes, so it is marked for physical distancing and disinfected between classes) and would probably be about $80/$95 month for members/non-members. We do require face coverings in the building for everyone, including during exercise, and I would encourage everyone to consider both whether your swimmer will be able to abide by this, and whether they will be able to follow physical distancing rules without excess reminders. If this is something your swimmer would like to do, please let me know so I can get an idea of how much interest there is and whether it's achievable under current guidelines.
Moving on to our technique tip today, we're going to go a little further afield than usual adn focus on some swimming terminology. This is a great overview of a lot of the things you'll hear in practice, from the simpler things we start with on Bronze all the way up through concepts we don't introduce till Silver and Gold. We encourage everyone to watch to learn something or get a refresher for when we are ready to swim again.
For our virtual swim race today, we're watching the men's 50m backstroke S4 final from the 2016 Rio Paralympics. If you ever had any doubt about how fast a good dolphin kick can be, this should put that to rest! Petracek went on last year to swim a European record of 42.76. In one of those odd rules situations, this time is actually faster than the world record, but does not count in that category because the meet was not attended by FINA anti-doping control. Hopefully he can repeat the feat in Tokyo next year!
Our technique video today, as we've been looking at some various types of equipment, is the basics of using fins. As the video notes, we only use regular fins for flutter and dolphin kicks; using them for breaststroke kick can cause serious damage to your knees. (We do have special fins that are designed for breaststroke kick, but only use these on very limited occasions.) And as any swimmer should be able to tell you, we never walk on the deck in fins - not only is it unsafe because you can easily trip and fall, but they're easier to put on in the water, anyway!
For our virtual swim meet race today, I don't even know if you are ready for this, but I've recently learned that there is an entirely different kind of swimming competition called "finswimming," where all the races are swum with fins on, with many events using a snorkel or air tanks, as well. So here is the final of the women's 400m immersion event at the 2018 finswimming world championships. The commentators do a good job of explaining something about the event, so do watch with the sound on. These swimmers make the whole thing look easy, but my abs are hurting just watching it - this is an intense workout!
We hope everyone had a great weekend!
We'll be playing a trivia game tomorrow for our social call at 3 pm - join in on the fun!
We also have dryland with Coach John Wednesday at 3:30 pm which is even more fun.
For our technique tip today, we're looking at some dos and don'ts of using a pull buoy. We don't use pull buoys very much with our younger swimmers because they can disrupt the body line by giving TOO much flotation to those who are small (and allow swimmers to "cheat" and keep legs up without learning to do it on their own and kick), and because they can put more wear and tear on arms and shoulders for swimmers whose technique still needs work. We do integrate them more in Silver and Gold, though, so these tips will apply to everyone eventually! One thing I would note is that exact placement of the pull buoy is partly an individual thing, based on body mass and center of buoyancy, and each swimmer will naturally start to figure that out for themselves as they get more experience pulling. But it should always be above the knees, unless one of the coaches asks for it to be lower for a specific set (we do have some ways of torturing swimmers with pull buoys between the ankles...).
Our virtual swim race today is the final of the men's 50m free at the 2018 Central American and Carribean Games. Top among the great swimmers here is Renzo Tjon-A-Joe of Suriname, posting his career best time to date. You may remember watching the great Surinamese butterflyer, Anthony Nesty, a few weeks ago, and Tjon-A-Joe is hoping to give him a run for his money as Suriname's top swimmer of all time (he's still working towards that Olympic gold, though!). Tjon-A-Joe holds all of his country's records for the 50 and 100 freestyles, and competed in Rio in 2016 (but did not make the final). Suriname does not have an Olympic-length pool, so after learning to swim in small pools and the river, Tjon-A-Joe moved to the US to have access to Olympic-quality pools and training. When covid hit and a family friend was Suriname's first victim, he returned there to be near his family for the duration, even though he knew it would hurt his Olympic plans for Tokyo. While home, he has returned to his early days and is swimming his workouts in the Suriname River, working against the current for that extra challenge.
Happy Friday, and happy holiday weekend! We hope everyone has some staying-home fun planned so that our covid numbers can stop increasing and we can be allowed to open our pools again soon!
For those swimmers (or parents!) who are 10 and over and looking to get a jump start on getting back in shape, the J is offering personal training again for members. I talked to Joe (our fitness manager) and he said they can also do small group training in one of the larger studios or outside, to ensure physical distancing. (We do also require that everyone in the building wear a mask, including while working out.) If this is something you might be interested in, you can check out the details here. We have trainers with immediate availability!
For our technique tip today, we are focusing in on the start position before the actual start. Have a good, stable position where you aligned and ready to explode off the blocks is essential to a truly top-notch start - and this is something else you can practice at home! (Just don't do the actual diving part, please...)
For today's virtual swim meet race, we are watching an exciting men's 100m freestyle from the 2019 Pro Swim Series in Richmond. One thing to note here, other than the swimming, is that all of these top swimmers, swimming in a mid-season meet, are not hitting their personal best times. This can be a struggle for our more advanced swimmers, who are used to taking time off at every meet when they were younger or less accomplished, and now see it take a whole season for their times to drop with any significance. When you are swimming at the absolute top of your game, though, not only are the improvements hard-won in terms of effort in practice over the course of months, but they also tend to happen most in championship meets when swimmers are tapered, the adrenaline is high, the competition is stiff, and the pool is fast. It's important to learn how to get into the mindset of long-term hard work leading to improvement, and not get discouraged by the lack of instant gratification!
Welcome to Thursday!
Thinking about technique today, we're going to look at what it means to use the pace clock and go on a send-off (or interval). This first video is short and sweet, and shows using an analog clock. Our pace clocks are digital now, so for our less experienced swimmers, or anyone who feels confused reading the clocks in practice, here's a longer explanation using digital clocks, too! As our swimmers progress through Silver, we expect them to be learning to swim off the clock instead of waiting for the coach to say "go" - and by Gold, the entire workout is done off the clock and the coach shouldn't be saying when to go at all. And always remember, as the second video says, that when you have multiple swimmers in a lane, each swimmer goes 5 seconds (that's 5 ENTIRE SECONDS) behind the swimmer in front of them!
For our virtual swim meet entry today, we're watching the men's 200 IM from the 2017 Pro Swim Series in Santa Clara. Sometimes it's fun to see some "new" faces besides our usual Olympians and World Champions - and have an exciting finish, too (since for once the title isn't giving away the result, we won't either). One of these swimmers really hits the wall (metaphorically!) at about 150 yards, whereas another clearly has more left in the tank for his final 50, and it serves him well.
Somehow it's Wednesday again already, so be sure to join us at 3:30 for dryland with Coach John!
Our technique tip today is about how to use your kickboard correctly. We do a lot of reminding swimmers, especially newer swimmers, how to hold the kickboard correctly for swim team kicking. The use of the board can be different than lessons, where swimmers often hold it at the bottom rather than the top in order to maintain their body line. On swim team, though, when we want to work on body line we do our kicking in a streamline position without the board; kicking with the board is for building strength and, often, for having the ears out of the water so that you can hear your coach! (The same applies to backstroke - when we use boards for backstroke kick we hold them as shown in the video, not above our heads. If we want our arms above our heads, we do streamline.)
On the subject of kicking, today's virtual swim meet race is the women's 200m free final from the 2012 London Olympics. Watch Allison Schmitt's kick (lane 5) throughout the race - she keeps her feet up in a consistent 6-beat kick, and when you watch the underwater camera, you can really see how the kick doesn't vary at all while she breathes. Remembering not to pause the kick during the breath is something we emphasize frequently in practice!
For our technique tip today, we're going back to look at the forward start again. This video has a lot of slow-motion footage where you can really see what the swimmer is doing and what their body position looks like at every point in the process. It also shows how getting into that good, chin-down streamline really affects your entry angle and makes the whole dive better.
Because everything is crazy these days, today we are going to watch something crazy for our virtual swim meet race: Michael Phelps vs a Great White Shark. In addition to the entertainment aspect, here, it's worth noting that Phelps chooses an underwater dolphin kick on his side as his fastest way of swimming when there are no pesky 15-meter marks in his way. He also slows substantially at every breath, raising the question of how fast he could have gone if he had been able to do the swim in one breath!
We're back for another week! The end of June has snuck up on us, so it's time again for me to say that if you are willing to pay all or a portion of your swim team fees for July as a tax-deductible donation to the J, please let me know by Wednesday (July 1). As always, you will not be charged unless you ask to be. We so appreciate everything that everyone is doing, even if it's just reading our emails!
Fitter & Faster did a webcast with Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace, Elvis Burrows, and Jewels Harris, three Black swimmers (you may remember Vanderpool-Wallace from a few weeks ago when we watched one of her races!), talking about George Floyd's murder, the protests, and being a person of color in swimming and the world. There is a low-key description of Floyd's death included, so especially for younger swimmers, it may be best for parents to listen along to be prepared for questions, if they have not yet heard these details. I do think this is an important - and accessible - conversation to listen to for any of our swimmers (and other family members!) who are old enough to be ready to sit through a 45 minute webcast.
For our technique tip today, we have a video with some side-by-side comparisons of the butterfly arm pull, showing correct technique and some variations on incorrect technique. The pushing down instead of pulling back is a very common mistake we see in swimmers who haven't yet figured out that it's the body position that gets you to the breath, not the arm pull!
And for our virtual meet video today, let's check out the final of the men's 100y fly at the 2017 NCAA championships. Caeleb Dressel takes on reigning Olympic champion Jacob Schooling and brings it home when he doesn't breathe in the final 25 yards! (And you thought your coaches were mean just saying not to breathe inside the flags...) Notice, too, when they show the scoreboard at the end, that both Dressel AND Schooling finish under the meet, NCAA, AND American record times - this is a pair of butterflyers to be reckoned with.
Happy Friday! We've made it through another week, and it's time for the weekend! If you are MJCC members and haven't been over to work out in the fitness center yet, you can head over to our website to make a reservation - right now our usage is VERY light, so you can have lots of space to yourself to do your workout.
Our technique tip today is about the rules and officiating of the IMs. As you may recall from previous videos about the IM...it's still all in the turns! You do have to swim the strokes correctly, of course, but the turns are the big place where even good swimmers can get confused and make a mistake!
For our virtual swim meet race today, we have the finals of the women's 200m IM from the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. In the mid 90s, widespread doping in Chinese swimming led to a lot of suspicion of stand-out performances on the team, but Lin Li swam just before that time and is believed to have been swimming substance-free for a variety of reasons. She held this world record for about five years, until another Chinese swimmer, Wu Yanyan, took two seconds (!) off of it in 1997. Yanyan was later found to have been using steroids, and while her record stood (the doping wasn't discovered until a couple of years later), it's widely considered to be tainted. If Yanyan's world record had been overturned as many believe it should have been, Li would have remained the textile suit record holder until 2015! Li has put her world record skills to good use, too: she eventually moved to California and started a swim school with another Chinese national team swimmer, Abi Liu. Their USA Swimming team, PEAK Swimming, is home to national age group record holders and Junior National winners.
We had fun torturing Coach John for torturing us in dryland yesterday - join us next week at the same time to join the excitement!
Our technique video today is about the rules and officiating of backstroke. The hardest part of backstroke to master is the turn - for Bronze we just focus on touching on your back and then turning to push off on your back. As we get to Silver, we start working on those pesky backstroke flip turns! Even experienced swimmers sometimes get DQed in the backstroke flip turn, because small misjudgments can mess up the whole turn! It's good, therefore, to know the details of what exactly the officials are looking for.
Our virtual swim meet race today is the women's 100m backstroke from Tokyo's International Sports Week in 1963. Satoko Tanaka, in Lane 5, was the world record holder in the 200 back, a record she held and continually lowered for 15 years (except for one period of eight days, when the record was held by Lynn Burke, before Tanaka lowered it again). The 200 was her best race, with the whole field often left behind at the end, when she finished a half a length ahead of the nearest competitor. Unfortunately, the 200 was not an Olympic distance for women at that time in backstroke, and so she was unable to get Olympic gold (the caption of the video is incorrect: she won bronze in Rome in 1960). When she retired from competition, she went on to become a swim coach, including for a program for people with asthma. She also continued to swim with her local Masters team.
It seems like it really may be summer at last! The weather is looking good, the weeds - I mean, gardens - are in full bloom, and I'm watching the summer campers playing outside of the pool windows. We do still have some space in our summer camp programs, if anyone is interested! Check out all our camp information on our website.
For our technique tip(s) today, we're learning about the rules and officiating of butterfly. Butterfly is not an easy stroke, and like breaststroke, there are a lot of details to remember just to be legal - and of course even more details to remember to be really good at it!
Our virtual swim meet race today is the women's 100m butterfly from the 1998 World Championships in Perth. Keep an eye on 16 year-old Ayari Aoyama of Japan, who had already at 15 held the world record in the short course 100 fly. Before that, at age 14, she came in 6th in the 100 fly at the Atlanta Olympics. As you can tell, she used her underwaters to her great advantage, surfacing well after - and well ahead of - the rest of the field off the start. Aoyama retired in 1999, after medaling again at Worlds and Pan Pacs that year.
That's a wrap for today, and we hope to see everyone for dryland at 3:30 this afternoon!
For technique today, let's take a look at freestyle finishes. As the video says, you get a chance to practice your finish at the end of every repeat, so there's no reason to get it wrong through lack of practice! Your head should stay down after the flags and you should be driving in with both arms and legs for the last few yards. One thing the video shows but doesn't mention is making sure that you reach for the wall on your side, thus lengthening your reach so that you get there just that tiny bit faster!
Our virtual swim meet race today is a little different - this is a 1941 "rough water" race off the coast of California (I'm pretty sure the caption on the video is wrong - there is no Lygala, CA; I think the announcer is saying "La Jolla"). Hawaiian swimmer Bill Smith comes out on top, in what was far from his most important race (but the only one that has footage on YouTube). Smith started swimming as physical therapy after a childhood bout of spinal meningitis left him largely paralyzed, and his path to greatness started with a team that was formed in an irrigation ditch on Maui. He went on to hold world records in the 200, 400, and 800m freestyles and had an undefeated college career at Ohio State - even though it was interrupted by World War II, where he served in the Navy teaching sailors how to swim. Though he and his coaches were concerned that his best swimming days were behind him after the war (remember that the Olympics were not held in 1940 or 1944), he took home gold from the 1948 London Olympics in the 400 free (with an Olympic record) and 4x200 free relay. After the Olympics, he went on to run and grow the Waikiki lifeguard service, and coach swimmers for over 25 years. For our teen swimmers, there is a great book I just finished about Smith and his childhood teammates called The Three Year Swim Club (it's probably a little dense for our younger swimmers, but the subject matter is fine for all ages!) - I highly recommend it!
Welcome to Week 15! As you may know, pools in much of Washington are being allowed to reopen, and as such, we have a great clinic opportunity up in Camas for any of our swimmers who are 9 and over and have been on swim team for at least two years. We have at least two Stingrays already registered, which is awesome!
La Camas Athletic Club and the Headhunters Swim Team will have two weekends of clinics:
July 11 & 12: Comprehensive Breaststroke Racing Camp
July 25 & 26: Explosive Performance: Starts & Turns Camp
Both of these camps will be limited to no more than 24 swimmers per session to ensure social distancing. If a session sells out, be sure to join the waitlist and Fitter and Faster may add more sessions.
Prices will increase on June 25th, so it's a good idea to sign up now.
I will say that I have spoken with the Aquatics Director at the club recently about general pool operations, and though I haven't been there and can't promise what will happen on the days of the clinics, she is taking physical distancing and other safety measures very seriously. Based on our conversations, if I were comfortable attending an event like this anywhere, I would be comfortable doing so at her facility. To support them in their safety measures, though, please do consider before signing up if your swimmer can be counted on to follow the safety rules, especially physical distancing rules, without frequent reinforcement. This can be hard on younger or very social swimmers, so make sure your swimmer is ready for that part of the clinic, too!
Tomorrow we play hangman via Zoom at 3pm - be sure to join us!
We have a little breaststroke theme going today, so our swim technique tip today is about body position in breaststroke. Just like freestyle, the goal is to keep the body as straight as possible, which starts with the head staying down so that it doesn't create a u-shape at the top of the spine. Then you have to engage your abs to keep the line going all the way down to the base of your spine. Lay on the edge of your bed, and think about all the muscles you have to use to keep that nice straight line all the way from your skull to your hips!
Inspired by a look at the clinicians for the breaststroke clinic above, today's virtual swim meet race is heat 4 of the men's 100 breaststroke at the 2011 FINA World Championships. Syrian swimmer Azad Al-Barazi is swimming out of lane 7. Al-Barazi only started swimming competitively at age 16, and walked onto the team at the University of Hawaii four years later. He went on to compete not just at the World Championhsips but also in both London and Rio in the 100m breaststroke. Because Syria was and is in the middle of civil war, Al-Barazi has had to fund his own training and trips to the Olympics and other competitions. He works teaching surfing and swimming (clearly!), and as a beach lifeguard for Los Angeles County. For those who don't know this already, oceanfront lifeguarding is extremely difficult, especially in popular areas like LA County, so that in and of itself is another accomplishment!
I'm having a hard time remembering that it's Friday, because with all the bustle it feels a lot more like a Monday! But tomorrow is Saturday, and if you ask me, that means it's going to be hammock time (just don't tell the weeds in my garden about their weekend reprieve...).
We continue our series of learning the rules of each stroke, today we're taking a look at officiating for freestyle. Freestyle is definitely the hardest stroke to get disqualified in, but there are a couple of ways to do it for those who want to collect DQ slips in all the strokes. Everyone has to have a goal, right?
Today's virtual swim meet race is a little bit random - I'm not sure what meet this is, but this is Sabir Muhammad (after retiring from national competition) swimming the 50 free. Because he was in his top swimming form about 20 years ago at short course world champs and NCAA champs, I haven't been able to find footage from one of any of his greatest races, but he was a swimmer we should all know about as part of our swimming history! At the 2000 FINA Short Course World Championships, Muhammad became the first Black American to medal at an international-level meet, taking home bronze in the 50 fly and silver in the 4x100 free relay. He describes his childhood swim team as being like the movie "Pride" (an excellent movie, if you haven't seen it - it's available to rent on iTunes!) - they didn't even have a coach at first (they eventually got one) and Muhammad took that humble beginning and turned it into full swimming scholarship to Stanford. At Stanford he earned 7 Pac-10 championships and 25 All-American titles, and over the course of his career he broke ten American records. After earning his MBA at Emory, he now works for Coca Cola and owns his own swim school in Atlanta, where he focuses on working with underserved populations so that everyone has a chance to learn to swim.
For those of you who are MJCC members, tomorrow is a momentous day - the fitness area is reopening! We will be at least three weeks later on the pools, because the pools can't open until Phase 2 (and we will need time once Phase 2 starts to do inservice with our staff prior to reopening). I am still working on finding out from OHA how we could potentially do some in-person dryland in Phase 1 - guidelines are not clear on the subject, and so far I've had a hard time having them understand my question. It's frustrating, but we will be patient!
Continuing with learning more about the rules of swimming, today we're learning what the officials are looking for in the relays - both the medley relay and the freestyle relay. Study up so that you know how to stay legal at your next swim meet!
Our virtual swim meet entry today is the women's 4x100 freestyle relay finals from the 2004 Athens Olympics. US relay anchor Maritza Correia was the first Black woman on the US Olympic team. Correia also held the American record in the 50 freestyle during her college career for the University of Georgia. Borh in Puerto Rico, she took up swimming as a child as therapy for severe scoliosis. Her family moved to Florida when she was 9, and she still lives there, swimming in the same pool she swam in as a kid. Her brother now coaches their childhood swim team!
It's Hump Day again, and that means we all get to do dryland with Coach John at 3:30!
Did you ever wonder exactly what the officials are looking for - and your coaches are yelling about - to keep your stroke legal? For today's technique tip, we're looking at the USA Swimming guidance to officials on how to officiate the breaststroke. You'll see examples here of both legal and illegal technique, to help keep you on the right side of the officials at your next meet! Do know, though, that just because your technique is LEGAL doesn't mean it's CORRECT. We want you to be much more than just a technically legal swimmer - we want you to excel in each stroke!
Our virtual swim race today is the men's 100m breaststroke from the 1972 Munich Olympics. Nobutaka Taguchi ends Japan's 15-year drought in swimming gold by bringing this one in in world record time. Japan was a driving force in swimming in the 1930s, but as these things cycle, had a swimming downturn in the 1950s. Taguchi not only brought home gold (and bronze in the 200), but did so in an era when multiple truly phenomenal breaststrokers were swimming on the world scene, making his accomplishments all the more remarkable. And, you'll note, he did it all without goggles, which weren't allowed in the Olympics until 1976.
We had fun seeing each other again today, and we hope to see you all tomorrow for dryland with Coach John at 3:30!
Our technique tip today is about head position in freestyle. Because your head is right at the top of your spine, small movements in your head will travel all the way down your body and show up as deficiencies in body and leg position. Swimmers that have a hard time keeping their kick at the surface often have a head problem, not a leg problem! And both extremes of head position - looking forward and buried in the water - cause excess drag, the swimmer's worst enemy.
Our virtual swim meet race today is the men's 100m freestyle from the 2016 Arab Swimming Championships in Dubai.We have some outside heat here with Mohamed Samy taking the race from lane 1. Samy is an Egyptian swimmer who graduated this year from Indiana University, after taking All-American honors every year of his collegiate career. He was planning to stay in the US to train for the 2020 Olympics, after missing the qualifying mark by 0.68 seconds in 2016. As so many stories go these days, he didn't get to swim in his final NCAA championship as the meet was cancelled due to covid, and he was advised to return to Egypt as soon as he could, for fear that he might not be able to return later as borders closed. He finished his senior year virtually, for some time from a hotel room with poor wifi as he was quarantined upon his return. His routine has been daily dryland along with his classwork, as - like in the US - the pools are closed. Samy's stated goal is to win Egypt's first Olympic swimming medal in now-2021!
It's another Monday, and I'm looking at the pool as I type this - which is both happy and sad. It would be a much better view with some Stingrays in it!
We'll have our weekly call tomorrow (Tuesday) at 3 pm. The suggestion was for each person to dress up as an animal...or maybe just put a stuffed animal on their head. We're flexible.
And don't forget dryland with Coach John on Wednesday at 3:30!
Our technique tip of the day is about the freestyle recovery. Notice how the swimmer's elbow stays high and bent through the entire recovery phase, and the hand stays close to the body. Swimming a nice, narrow stroke will help with both efficiency and staying injury-free. As the video points out, having a good recovery also puts your hand and arm in just the right spot to enter the water to get a good catch and powerful stroke, too.
Our virtual swim meet race(s) today are the men's 50 free finals from the 2000 and 2016 Olympics, shown at the same time. (!) Anthony Ervin, who as you can see had a long and fruitful career, was the second person of African descent (and the first US citizen of African descent) to win Olympic swimming gold - after Anthony Nesty, who we watched on Friday. (Apparently "Anthony" is a good swimming name!) His 2016 win also made him the oldest swimmer (at 35) to win individual Olympic gold. You might also remember Ervin from the 2017 Maccabiah Games relay we watched a few weeks ago, when we talked about Lenny Krayzelburg. Ervin was planning to try for the Tokyo Olympics this summer, and we certainly hope to see him in 2021!
Sometimes it seems like a year since we all started staying home...and it has been! On Mercury! :-D
Today we're looking at butterfly, and getting tips from a top European swimmer, Jeanette Ottesen. Each of the pieces she talks about will help perfect your butterfly - watch/listen, and then try it in front of a mirror to feel the body movements she discusses. All of this will help when we are back in the pool!
On the butterfly theme, our virtual swim race today is the men's 100m butterfly from the 1988 Seoul Olympics. As you can tell from the video, American Matt Biondi was so expected to win the race that neither commentators nor camera operators even noticed Suriname's Anthony Nesty coming up from behind to ultimately out-touch Biondi by 0.01 seconds, an Olympic record. Nesty was the first Black athlete to earn Olympic gold in swimming, and holds Suriname's only Olympic medal. After this race, Nesty was recruited by the University of Florida, and for the next three years, he was unbeaten in the 100m fly, including at PanPacs, PanAms, and World Championships. After graduating, he pursued a career as a swim coach, and in 2018 became the head coach of the University of Florida men's swim team, leading the team to victory in the SEC Championships in 2019 and 2020.
We're headed into the end of the week, and we have more fun videos for you today!
First, Oregon Swimming is looking for athletes to be part of the new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. The committee will meet monthly via Zoom, and will be developing their mission further once they have recruited a diverse group that supports inclusionary practices and policies across Oregon Swimming. This opportunity is open to athletes age 15 and over, and to apply all you have to do is fill out the form here.
Today are are looking at some tips for perfecting the breaststroke kick, from legendary coach Bob Bowman. Learning to keep a tight, efficient kick will make breaststroke both faster and easier, and is something that almost all of our swimmers - from Bronze all the way up to Gold! - could benefit from working on.
It's a fair bet that he kick is also what makes today's virtual swim meet race winner so much faster than her competitors. It's hard to tell in older video footage, but given the length and speed of each glide, Samantha Riley's kick here in the women's 100m breaststroke final at the 1994 Rome World Championships is clearly incredibly powerful. In contrast to yesterday's close finish, today it's almost two seconds between first and second place. Riley was named Swimmer of the Year by Swimming World magazine following her 1994 season (she also won gold in the 200m breaststroke, and swept the breaststroke events - including the breaststroke leg of the medley relay - at the Commonwealth Games that year), and went on to win bronze in the 100 breaststroke and silver in the medley relay in the 1996 Olympics. Those feats earned her the honor of being the first Indigenous Australian to win an Olympic medal. She retired in 2000, after missing qualifying for the Sydney Olympics due to health issues, and now runs a chain of gyms and a swim school.
Our emails for the next few days will be a little shorter, as we are preparing to partially reopen the J (not the pool, yet!) and that is taking a lot of time and brainpower!
For our technique tip today, we're reviewing diving. This is especially for our swimmers who are still learning how to dive or struggling with diving instead of belly flopping. Not only are there nice clear explanations, but some great underwater footage so that you can really visualize where your body should be at different points in the process.
For our virtual swim meet today we are watching the final of the women's 100m backstroke at the 2017 New Zealand short course national championships. Check out that crazy close finish, with the top four all within 0.28 seconds! Winner Gabrielle Fa’amausili, barely 18 years old here, holds the New Zealand national record in the 50 backstroke. After a near-drowning at age 3 when she missed the wall while swimming backstroke, she didn't swim again until she was 6, and still had to overcome her fear in swim lessons. But by the time she was 10 she was breaking age-group records in the backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle - and she was the first Auckland girl at that age to break 30 seconds in the 50 free (and remember, unlike here, that's in a meter pool). She was slated for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, but had to sit out due to surgery for a knee injury. But she just started college at the University of Georgia in 2018, too, so we should be seeing more of her soon!
We had a great time playing pictionary today, and we will meet again next Tuesday at 3 and dress as an animal (or maybe just put our favorite stuffed animal on our heads...you never know). Don't forget to join us for dryland tomorrow at 3:30!
For our stroke technique tip today we are going to look at front quadrant freestyle again. This video shows underwater footage and analysis of swimmers who are swimming both correctly and incorrectly, to really let you see the differences that we are talking about at practice. This video is especially good for all the swimmers who've ever heard the coaches say to "swim almost catch-up!"
Our virtual swim meet race today is the finals of the men's 100m freestyle at the 2009 Rome World Championships. César Cielo is the current world record holder in both this event and the 50m free, and the most decorated Brazilian swimmer in history. He holds Brazil's only Olympic swimming gold (so far), having won the 50m free in Beijing in 2008. Injuries hurt his performance in London in 2012 and kept him from qualifying for Rio in 2016, and he was considering retiring before the 2020 Olympics...but of course anything to do with 2020 has been turned on its head! Chances certainly looked likely that his records might fall to Caeleb Dressel (current textile suit world record holder) in Tokyo, and we may now miss the chance of a head-to-head match-up between the two.
It's Monday, and the start of another fun Stingrays week! This week we are playing pictionary tomorrow (Tuesday) and 3:00 and doing dryland with Coach John on Wednesday at 3:30 (link to come!).
If you have some spare time today, here's a talk with Australian freestyler Ian Thorpe about his career and thoughts on swimming, including how everyone is swimming the 200 freestyle wrong! His "Greatest Race" was one of our virtual swim meet entries a few weeks ago, and I know his nickname - "the Thorpedo" - in particular appealed to some of our Stingrays. Eighteen years later, Thorpe still holds the world record for the 400 freestyle in a textile suit.
Our technique tip today is about freestyle breathing. Many even intermediate swimmers still try to lift their heads to the front to some degree when breathing, so this video has an exercise you can do at home, along with some tips on timing your breath.
Our virtual swim meet race of the day is the final of the men's 50m freestyle at the 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games. (The Commonwealth and Youth Commonwealth Games are an international competition open to athletes from the Commonwealth of Nations, which is comprised mainly of current and former territories of Great Britain.) Virdhawal Khade, who wins in impressive form, was fresh off the Beijing Olympics, where he was (at 17) the youngest Indian ever to qualify for a swimming event and set an Indian national record in the heats. His wife, Rujuta, is also a top swimmer, and in 2019 both took home gold in their respective 50m free finals at India's national swim meet.
It's Friday again, and it's starting to seem like we are inching forward towards normalcy, though we still have a long road ahead!
For the true swimming beasts among us, here's a webinar about swimming the 400 IM. When they talk about the horror of swimming an IM mile, remember that we all know someone who has done that...twice. Sadly we missed out on Noah's Spring Break Bet this year, but he's on the hook for at least two more years, so stay tuned...
For our newer swimmers who don't even want to think about a 400 IM, let alone listen to someone talk about it for an hour, here's a little overview of the IM and all its distances. We had just started really working on IMs with Bronze earlier this winter, so we thought a refresher might be in order!
Our virtual swim meet race today is the top heat of finals for the women's 100 free from the 2011 NCAA championships. Auburn swimmer Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace touches the wall three quarters of a second ahead of her nearest competitor, which is quite a feat in a championship freestyle sprint (consider that the entire remainder of the field is only half a second apart). Vanderpool-Wallace swam internationally for the Bahamas, and as the most decorated Bahamian swimmer in history, was the first to make the finals in an Olympic event (in the 50 free in London in 2012). She also took home the Bahamas' first swimming gold at the Pan American Games in 2015 (again in the 50 free). Vanderpool-Wallace was a top swimmer in the Bahamas as an age-grouper, and moved to Florida for high school in order to swim for The Bolles School. The Bolles School is world-renowned for swimming, and was also the high school home of our race winner from Wednesday, Joseph Schooling, and one-time Oregonian Santo Condorelli (if you look at the records for Oregon Swimming, you'll see his name a lot still in the younger age groups).
Welcome to Thursday! We had a fun dryland session with Coach John yesterday, and hope to see everyone again next week.
Time to try a little more workout recovery cooking with turkey burgers and carrot fries. Carrot fries sound intriguing, so if you give this a try, let us know how it goes!
For our technique tip today, we're taking a little more in-depth look at breaststroke, and how it changes as the races get longer. We teach and emphasize a breaststroke that is like the one shown in the 200 breast here, as we want to emphasize efficiency in daily practice (and the reason the distance swimmers use this technique is efficiency over a longer race). It is also easier to then modify that stroke to create the shorter sprint stroke once a swimmer is older and preparing to specialize (this usually happens in mid-late high school or early college) than it is to lengthen a shorter stroke.
Our virtual race today is the men's 200m breaststroke finals from 2019 USA Nationals. (See if you can spot the local talent as they introduce the swimmers...) Reece Whitley is a rising junior at UC Berkeley, and the current age-group national record holder for 13-14 year-olds in the 100 and 200 breaststroke for short course yards and the 100 breaststroke for long course meters, and former record-holder for 11-12 year olds in the 100 and 200 breaststroke for short course yards. He first set 13-14 year-old records when he was just 13! He has multiple medals in breaststroke (including the breaststroke leg of the medley relay) from World Junior Championships, and is in the all-time top 25 in the US for the 100 and 200 over both courses. His success at such young ages is all the more impressive because he didn't learn to swim until he was 7, because he was upset he couldn't pass a camp swim test to go in deep water. He was also a basketball and baseball player until he was 13 - and the best pitcher on his team. Setting national records in swimming, though, convinced him to focus on just the one sport. We should see him at the NCAA Champs and Olympic Trials in 2021.
Thanks to everyone who played Scattergories with us yesterday. We learned that "narwhal" is actually a legitimate answer in almost any category...
Next week we are playing Pictionary, which should also be lots of fun (and who knows, there may be narwhals for that, too). Join us Tuesday at 3:00! And of course don't forget dryland today (Wednesday) at 3:30.
We had exciting news today that pools will be allowed to reopen in Phase 2! While Multnomah County has not yet entered Phase 1 (expected on June 12), this gives us a light at the end of our long, waterless tunnel. If Oregon (and most especially Multnomah County) manages to hold the line as the staggered re-opening proceeds, this means we could be back in the pool in a limited way at some point next month! We'll have more information on this when Multnomah County gets closer to Phase 2.
Our technique tip today is about the butterfly recovery. We see a lot of bent elbows in our beginner and intermediate butterflyers, and even more advanced swimmers struggling with a less than ideal recovery position - we even see it in some swimmers at championship meets! - so everyone should take a look at this video, and then stand in front of a mirror and work on imitating what you see here.
Speaking of butterfly...our virtual swim meet race today is the men's 100m fly from the 2016 Rio Olympics. For those who have not memorized Phelps' medal collection, you may watch this expecting him to win yet again - and while his 3-way tie for second with le Clos and Cseh is historic, the story in this race is with the winner, Joseph Schooling, as he leads wire to wire to win Singapore's first Olympic gold medal. His win was not "only" the gold medal, but also an Olympic record (breaking Phelps' 2008 record) at 50.39, and at that point the fastest time ever recorded in a textile suit. (The then-world record of 49.82 was also held by Phelps, but was set in 2009 in a polyurethane suit; it wasn't eclipsed until last year, when Caeleb Dressel went 49.50 at the World Championships.) Schooling is training for the now-2021 Olympics, and runs a learn-to-swim program in Singapore, perfectly named "Swim Schooling."
It's Tuesday, which means it's almost time for Stingrays Scattergories at 3!
And of course, don't forget dryland with Coach John tomorrow at 3:30 (password: MJCC) - don't worry; it's fun along with the exercise!
For our technique tip today, we're getting some flip turn tips from Olympian Cullen Jones. Even though this doesn't show pushing off the wall, notice how much faster and more powerful the turn is when Jones has everything tucked in. And it would be impossible to repeat too many times his advice that a turn is not a time to rest, but instead an explosive transfer of energy from one direction to the next!
To match with a video about flip turns, today's race has no turns, as we watch the men's 50m freestyle finals from the 2012 US Olympic Trials. Watch lane 2 (counting from the top) - sometimes the challenge comes from the outside lanes! When he was 5 years old, Cullen Jones almost drowned at a waterpark when he ended up under his tube instead of on top of it. He was pulled out of the water unconscious and not breathing, and had to be resuscitated by the lifeguard staff. The incident led his parents to put him in swim lessons, and about three years later he started his competitive career at the JCC in West Orange, New Jersey. He won his first world championship medal in 2006 at age 22, and his first Olympic medal in 2008. He spends a lot of time now working on water safety and diversity initiatives with young swimmers, to help prevent incidents like his own and foster a love for the water and competitive swimming for everyone.
It's June! It may seem like it's been at least three years since March, but the calendar seems to think it's been a mere couple of months. The good news is, one way or the other, we still have some virtual goodness for all of our Stingrays!
We resume our Tuesday calls tomorrow, when we will be playing Scattergories via Zoom at 3:00 pm. Make sure you have paper and a pen or pencil to be ready to participate!
We'll also have dryland with Coach John on Wednesday at 3:30, as usual. The password is MJCC.
I haven't had a chance to watch this one yet, but in a continuing theme of delicious food you can make for your coaches...er, I mean, yourself...Fitter and Faster has added a video on making healthy ice cream. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.
Last week (or maybe the week before...see above about the distortion of time!), we talked about the freestyle kick, and today's video follows up on that, showing exactly where each kick should be in the stroke. Our more advanced swimmers, if they think about it, will probably find that this is how they naturally distribute their kicks when swimming the preferred 6-kick style. For all, it is food for thought that where we put each action in our stroke always has an effect on speed and efficiency.
Our virtual race today is really only a slice of a race, as videos from 1920 are not easy to come by. But for a few strokes, here is the men's 100m freestyle from the 1920 Antwerp Olympics. Duke Kahanamoku is in "lane" 5, and ultimately won the event twice in world record time (it was re-swum after a protest that the 4th place swimmer had fouled the 5th place swimmer - easy enough to do in a world with no lane lines!). Kahanamoku pioneered the flutter kick we use today, as before his time freestyle was swum solely with a scissor kick. He was the first person to break 1:02 in the 100-meter free (eventually setting the world record at 1:00.4), and the first person under 1:00 in the 100-yard free (going 55.4 swimming not in a pool, but in Honolulu Harbor), though the latter record was not recognized at the time as authorities literally could not believe that anyone was that fast. Surprisingly, then, it is not his swimming career that Kahanamoku remains most famous for, but his surfing. He is known as the "Father of Surfing," being the person who exported the sport of surfing from Hawaii and brought it to the rest of the world. He also inspired the use of surfboards by lifeguards around the world, when, while surfing, he used his board to rescue eight fishermen from a capsized boat off the coast of California. His storied career further included Olympic water polo, Hollywood roles, and almost 30 years as the sheriff of Honolulu. Swimmers do it all!
It was awesome seeing many of you at our Stingrays Celebration today! We wish it could have been in person, but just seeing everyone's faces was great, too.
Just a reminder that this will be the last email for Junior Rays, as their season doesn't carry through the summer. If your Junior Ray has been enjoying these emails, though, just let Coach Jennie know and we can add your email address to the Stingrays list so that you keep getting them. Emails for Stingrays will continue (but no email tomorrow, as it's another holiday!).
Also, for anyone who is interested in turning what would have been their June swim team fee into a tax-deductible donation to the MJCC, please let me know by May 31! We will only be charging families who tell us to do so, so if that is not something you can do right now, no worries. We are happy to have you either way!
Oregon Swimming has asked us to pass the following along to our swimmers and families:
I would like to suggest to every Oregon Swimming coach, swimmer, their parents, friends, extended family, their pets…. to join us this Friday (5/29) by making a post to social media and tagging Governor Kate Brown (@OregonGovBrown – Twitter/ @oregongovbrown - Instagram) and her director of communications Natalie King (@nataliehawwa – Twitter) and use the hashtag #whygymsbutnotpools
With these posts try to communicate that lap swim and swim practice are not the same as a “pool party” style public/family swim time. It is very important that we stay positive and polite, aggressive and confrontational posts will not help our cause. Posts by parents could include a picture of their swimmer and could mention any of the following:
Why we think we need our pools back. Be creative!
Why gyms are open, but pools are not: although we don’t have the powerful lobbying that gyms have, competitive pools have a much better system to ensure social distancing during lap swim than gyms and most sports.
Drowning prevention: We need our pools back to make sure lifeguards, kids, and adults have a place to lap swim ahead of the busy summer season that could lead to a record number of drownings.
Drowning prevention: Parent-kid lessons could safely happen to prevent drownings ahead of the busy summer.
Chlorinated pools are known for killing Covid-19. With proper social distancing, swimming is one of the safest sports.
Our swimming technique tip today is about the backstroke break-out- making sure that those first couple of strokes after your underwater dolphin kicks are the best that they can be! We frequently see swimmers lose momentum as they come to the surface due to poorly timed breakouts, and this video shows just exactly where the breakout should be for maximum effect.
For our virtual swim meet race today, we're watching the finals of the men's 100m backstroke at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. Roland Matthes of East Germany won every backstroke event he entered for seven years straight, between spring of 1967 and summer of 1974, and is widely considered the most successful backstroker ever. During that time, he set the world world record in the 100m backstroke and then proceeded to better his own record six times, going from 58.4 to 56.30 over the course of his career. He also set the record in the 200m backstroke, and bettered that record eight times (though Gary Hall and Mike Stamm both enjoyed very brief interludes with that record during that time), going from 2:07.9 to 2:01.87. (You'll note that Matthes' swimming career also spanned the years where timing became more accurate, going from tenths to hundredths.)
Happy Wednesday! It's a short week this week AND a fun one, so it's extra good.
Tomorrow (Thursday) at 4:15 pm we hope to see ALL of our Stingrays for our virtual End-of-Season Celebration. We would expect it to last about an hour, though it does depend on how many people attend!
For our technique tip of the day today we are looking at finishes. Races are won and lost at the finish, so this is a key skill for racing. It's also, like turns, something that you get to work on perfecting every single length when we are in practice! We know everyone finds that idea super exciting (actually, at this point, we just find the idea of being in practice exciting...).
Our virtual swim meet entry for today is the women's 100m free final from the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Speaking of the importance of finishes, this race was the first-ever tie in Olympic swimming (partly due to rule changes that we talked about earlier in the month) - and it was very nearly a three-way tie. Of note, co-gold-medalist Carrie Steinseifer now lives in the Portland area - so many Oregon connections!
Welcome to the last week of the regular season! We'll have some pretty short emails this week as we work on finishing up the slideshow and awards for Thursday's Stingrays End of Season Celebration - log on at 4:15 for the fun!
We do have dryland with Coach John tomorrow at 3:30 too - password is MJCC.
Our technique tip today is about streamlines. This video shows not only the correct streamline position, but also some common mistakes - and how they slow you down! Streamline is a EXCELLENT thing to practice out of the water, too - get your arms and head into a really good streamline position and try to hold it while you walk around the house or the backyard. That way you practice keeping that tight position while still doing other things with your legs (as you would be kicking in the pool).
Our virtual race today is just a fun one - this is the men's 50m backstroke at a University of Texas meet in 2011. UT swimmer Hill Taylor sets what would be a world record time (the record then was 24.04; today it is 24.00)...if only it were legal to swim the entire race underwater. Taylor's best time (that I can find) for a LEGAL 50m backstroke was a somewhat less record-breaking 27.64 - which just goes to show how much faster good underwater kicking can make you!
Can you believe this is the end of week 10? We're happy that we are still getting to see some of our swimmers, even if only virtually!
As we get to the end of May, we mark the end of our regular season. Normally, at the end of May, the Stingrays celebrate our past season (May 28 at 4:15 pm!) and then anyone who wants to continue for the summer re-enrolls for those months. (Junior Rays does not run over the summer.) Of course, this year is very different, and we don't want to lose touch over the summer. In that vein, come June, we'll continue sending these emails to the Stingrays list. In the interest of saving some inboxes, we'll drop the Junior Rays list off at that time - but if any Junior Rays are interested in them, please just shoot me an email and I'll add in your address!
Our other mark of the end of the month is a note that if you are willing to be charged for June as a tax-deductible donation, please let me know by May 31st! No one will be charged unless they tell me that they want to be. We are so appreciative of everyone's support, even as we are all so disappointed not to be together at the pool.
Since we're headed into a long weekend, how about trying some more cooking? I know what to eat before a meet or before practice is a big question sometimes. It has to be good fuel, nutritious, portable, AND something you actually, you know, want to eat. This video is all about how to cook muffins that are great pre-swim fuel!
For our technique tip today, we're looking at breaststroke breathing. The two important points to really note here are that the breath should begin while the hands are sweeping out (don't want until the end of the armstroke!), and the chin should stay down the entire time. The head position should not change throughout the stroke (this turns into what we like to call "the chicken," where the head moves up and down like a chicken pecking at the ground - and remember, chickens can't swim, so they are poor role models!), and the eyes should be looking down the entire time, not at the wall in front of you or at other swimmers in the pool. If you remember these things, you will swim with less effort and less drag!
For our virtual swim meet race today, we're watching the finals of the women's 100m breaststroke at the 2017 World Championships. In lane 3 is Lithuanian Rūta Meilutytė, then the world record holder, lane 4 is Russian Yulia Efimova, who swam just 1/100th of a second shy of the world record in the preliminary heats (you may remember Efimova from last month, when she demonstrated swimming all four strokes on her countertop...), and lane 5 is American Lilly King. It's quite a race!
It was great to see everyone for dryland yesterday! Keeping fit is even more important the longer we go on, so in addition to our dryland sessions, think about what else you can do: go for walk, run, or bike, jump rope in the backyard, or use Coach John's exercises to put together your own daily dryland while you watch TV or listen to some tunes!
For technique today, we're going to look at backstroke push-offs and finishes. We do expect all of our swimmers to learn their stroke count between the flags and the wall, so no fair taking the easy way out and using the 5-stroke theory explained in this video. You'll probably end up with a few "YOU CHEAT!"s from Coach John if you don't use the stroke count that is right for YOU! Also, for those who are wondering Coach Jennie can hum loudly for at least 25 seconds...at which point she got bored and took pity on Coach Emily who was having to listen to her.
Today's virtual swim meet entry is the men's 100m backstroke finals from the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Lenny Krayzelburg (lane 4) was not only a world-record-holding backstroker, but also got his start swimming in the US at the Westside Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles. He now runs a swim school that partners with a handful of JCCs across the country to provide swim lessons and curriculum. It's always fun to see JCC swimmers who have gone places!
Somehow the excitement of hump day has retained its meaning even while we eternally at home, and we're certainly celebrating being halfway through another week!
We do have Zoom dryland with Coach John today at 3:30! Yesterday's link was a little wonky, but this one should work - and the password is MJCC.
Last week we made smoothies - so this week try making some healthy pizza just for swimmers! Again, the coaches are happy to provide their addresses so that you can bring some to share... ;-)
Today we're going to look at the backstroke kick, and particularly how important it is to work on keeping it at the surface and not letting your legs sink. This video introduces a drill that was new to me (at least), and I think the Silver and Gold swimmers can anticipate this drill being in their futures... Remember, your body wants to go in the opposite direction from where your toes are pointed - so if your toes are pointed toward the bottom, you aren't going to get anywhere, because your kick is definitely not good enough to launch you into the air like a rocket! But if your toes are pointed at the wall behind you, your kick will do an excellent job of propelling you towards the wall in front of you.
For today's virtual swim meet entry, we are watching David Berkhoff, the swimmer who revolutionized backstroke, in the heats of the men's 100 backstroke at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. (After this world record performance, he would go on to swim a half-second slower and take silver in the finals.) Berkhoff was the first to really push the underwater dolphin kicks off the start, and you can see in this video that he must have had the lung capacity of a blue whale! After the Seoul Olympics, the FINA passed the rule limiting the amount of time swimmers are allowed to be underwater in a race (the limit is now 15 meters).
We had an awesome time scavenger hunting today! Remember that next week we will not have a Tuesday get-together because we will we preparing for our virtual end-of-season celebration on Thursday the 28th at 4:15.
We also have dryland with Coach John (password: MJCC) tomorrow at 3:30! Bring the same "equipment" as usual, if you can.
Oregon Swimming is hosting a Town Hall tonight at 7 pm with OSI and USA Swimming staff about the current state of swimming in Oregon and nationwide. If you are wondering what things look like outside our little virtual bubble, this might be interesting to attend. If you have questions, you can send them beforehand to email@example.com.
Our technique video today has three tips for swimming freestyle faster - breathing low to the water, using your rotation to your full advantage, and keeping the elbow high in the catch (the moment when you first really "grab" the water to start the power phase of the stroke). We work on low - "one goggle" - breathing from the beginning of swim team, because it is literally impossible to do the rest of the stroke correctly if too much of the head is coming out of the water, or if swimmers are trying to point their face forward instead of to the side. The other two elements we introduce a little bit later, but they are equally important to being a fast and efficient swimmer!
For our virtual swim meet entry today, we're checking out the finals of the women's 200y IM at the 2019 NCAA nationals. Whatever the commentators might say at the end, my money is on the defining moment of the race being when Ella Eastin (lane 4) gets to the wall on the breast to free turn on a half stroke, and has to really glide extra long into the touch. The advantage always goes to whoever can hit freestyle first, because it is the much faster stroke - and while that advantage is certainly not insurmountable in all cases, it was here. With no NCAA championships this year, we have not get gotten to see if Beata Nelson can best this performance and take of the 0.12 seconds remaining between her best time here and Eastin's American record from 2018.
Happy Monday! It's not too late to sign up for the MJCC virtual talent show on May 31 from 11:30am-12:30pm. Show your talent to the world!
Coming up this week we also have our Zoom scavenger hunt tomorrow (Tuesday) at 3 pm - bring an idea (g-rated) of something for your teammates to find in their house! Dryland with Coach John (password: MJCC) is on Wednesday at 3:30pm. Be there or be...out of shape.
Next week we are skipping our Tuesday call so that the coaches can focus on our end-of-season [virtual] celebration, which will also be on Zoom starting at 4:15 pm! Reminder for parents and swimmers that if you have pictures of your swimmer or the team that we could include, please send those to Jennie ASAP!
For a little fun listening today, here's the team who won the men's 4x100 medley relay in Atlanta in 1996. (Sadly, I can't seem to find video of this race online.) Mark Henderson, the butterflyer, lives in Bend now, so there's even an Oregon connection. And it's pretty interesting to hear Jeremy Linn, once the best breaststroker in America, talk about how he couldn't swim a legal breaststroke until he was 14 years old. So for those swimmers still struggling with breaststroke, there's plenty of time not only to learn it, but to excel at it!
Today's technique video is about breaststroke arms. This video breaks down in slow motion each part of the arm pull - and notice that the arms always stay at or in front of the chest, never creeping down below the waist. There's no ice cream in this swimmer's pockets!
Finally, for our race of the day, since the above relay has gone missing in action, we'll watch Jeremy Linn in action in the finals of the 100m breaststroke at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. He certainly wasn't having any issues with swimming a legal breaststroke by then!
Coming up this week we also have our Zoom scavenger hunt tomorrow (Tuesday) at 3 pm - bring an idea (g-rated) of something for your teammates to find in their house! Dryland with Coach John (password: MJCC) is on Wednesday at 3:30pm. Be there or be...out of shape.
Next week we are skipping our Tuesday call so that the coaches can focus on our end-of-season [virtual] celebration, which will also be on Zoom starting at 4:15 pm! Reminder for parents and swimmers that if you have pictures of your swimmer or the team that we could include, please send those to Jennie ASAP!
For a little fun listening today, here's the team who won the men's 4x100 medley relay in Atlanta in 1996. (Sadly, I can't seem to find video of this race online.) Mark Henderson, the butterflyer, lives in Bend now, so there's even an Oregon connection. And it's pretty interesting to hear Jeremy Linn, once the best breaststroker in America, talk about how he couldn't swim a legal breaststroke until he was 14 years old. So for those swimmers still struggling with breaststroke, there's plenty of time not only to learn it, but to excel at it!
Today's technique video is about breaststroke arms. This video breaks down in slow motion each part of the arm pull - and notice that the arms always stay at or in front of the chest, never creeping down below the waist. There's no ice cream in this swimmer's pockets!
Finally, for our race of the day, since the above relay has gone missing in action, we'll watch Jeremy Linn in action in the finals of the 100m breaststroke at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. He certainly wasn't having any issues with swimming a legal breaststroke by then!
TGIF! We hope everyone has some fun-yet-socially-distant weekend plans!
I had to go to the J and to our pool supply place today, so took advantage of the time in the car to listen to the webcast on Breaking Down the 100 Freestyle. It's always fun to hear how these Olympians prepare and think, and also how in some cases each person approaches things entirely differently, depending on their own strengths and training.
Our technique tip today is about the freestyle kick. This video demonstrates various ways swimmers frequently kick incorrectly, as well as how to do so correctly. These videos with "Incorrect" demos are particularly useful because everyone can see what we are seeing when we say things like "point your toes more!"
And finally, for our virtual swim meet entry, we are watching the men's 100m free finals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Even though the footage on these old races is grainy, it's still fascinating to see the strokes as they were swum back then - the freestyle looks a lot more thrash-y than the smooth style we see today. (Of course, it's also a good ten seconds slower than we see today!) Peter Fick, who was then the world record holder in the 100 free, was seen on camera (presumably in footage with a better angle than this!) to have touched 2nd, but the watches put him in fifth place, and the German judges refused to change the results. Speculation had it that the Germans saw an opportunity to punish the Americans for refusing to salute Hitler in the opening ceremony - whether that is true is, of course, lost to history. Fick intended to come back at the 1940 Olympics, but their cancellation ended his swimming career. He served in the Navy during World War II, and taught swimming both there and later in civilian life.
It was great to see many of you at our Community Celebration this afternoon! Congrats again to Noah, Eian, Finn, and Izzi on their accomplishments over the past year.
There's a great webinar replay up of a conversation with Janet Evans, who was an amazing distance swimmer a few years back. Our distance swimmers will appreciate this especially, but there is a lot of good mindset detail in here that would benefit any swimmer, and it was just genuinely interesting to listen to. Also, just after 16:30 on the video, COACH JENNIE IS VINDICATED. BY AN OLYMPIAN.
To go with our stroke extension video yesterday, today we are looking at front quadrant freestyle (the video calls it hip driven freestyle, which is also fine - sometimes there are multiple terms for the same thing!), and the process of making sure your arms maintain the correct positioning and balance in the water. We talk about this a lot in practice, and making sure that your arm doesn't begin the pull or sink as soon as it hits the water, but rather waits for the other arm to enter, first!
For our virtual swim meet entry today, we'll watch the finals of the women's 400m freestyle from the 1988 Seoul Olympics, which Janet Evans mentioned in the interview above as one of her favorite races. (We'll just take this opportunity to say please don't model your technique after Janet Evans...but it sure does work for her!) The world record set here lasted for 18 years, which is the fourth-longest-standing Olympic swimming record of all time. The second and third longest lasting also belong to Evans - in the1500 and 800 m freestyles, respectively. The only record that stood longer was Willy den Ouden's 1936 record in the 100 freestyle, which stood until 1956.
First, our apologies for Zoom Mishap Day #2. It seems that when Zoom pushed their update last night they also added passwords to all meetings - but there was no notification to meeting hosts, so it turned into some craziness! John is working on either resetting the password to something that we can all remember, or seeing if he can track down the long link (with the password embedded) that we use for other meetings. Stay tuned!
If you are interested in attending our Community Celebration (including four of our very own Stingrays!) tomorrow (Thursday) at 5 pm, don't forget to register ahead of time so that you can get the link!
To recover from our dryland workout, why not make a delicious smoothie? And then once you get really good at it, you can bring smoothies for your coaches when practice starts again!
For our technique tip today, we are looking at extending to the front in freestyle. Reaching all the way forward until the elbow is completely straight gives you even more water to pull and means you go further with fewer strokes! (The demonstrator in this video needs to learn to close his fingers, though - then he'll be even more efficient.)
In our virtual swim meet video today, we can watch a lot of swimmers get some excellent reach in their freestyle as we watch the finals of the women's 4x100m free relay at the 2017 World Championships in Budapest. Not only is this an exciting race right down to the wire, but in the lead-off leg, Sarah Sjöström of Sweden not only sets a world record but also, at 51.71, becomes the first woman ever to go under 52 seconds. (In relays, the lead-off swimmers' times count as a regular time for the distance, though subsequent swimmers' times do not, as relay starts are faster than standing starts and thus confer an advantage.) Sjöström holds a bevy of records in the sprint free and fly events, and we'll probably see her again at the Olympics next year.
We had a day of technical glitches, but we did finally get together for our weekly social Zoom once the internet was cooperating! Next week - still Tuesday at 3! - we will be having a group scavenger hunt. Each person should come with an idea of something to ask everyone else to find in their house. Creativity (and G-rated-ness) is encouraged on both ends - if Coach John asks you to find a dozen cats doing yoga and you don't have a dozen cats doing yoga, you can show us pictures or stuffed animals or an empty yoga mat and tell us cats are there, but microscopic so we can't see them. You just have to explain to us all why what you found fits the criteria given!
Remember that tomorrow (Wednesday) is dryland with Coach John at 3:30. You should bring the same items as in previous weeks - or just do it without "props" if you don't have them!
We MIGHT have mentioned at some point the importance of good turns to every race, and the importance of working on those turns every day in practice (even when "practice" is just visualizing what you would be doing if we were back in the pool!). So today's webinar suggestion is all about turns - both flip turns and open turns. Enjoy!
For our quicker technique tip today, we're going to talk about breaststroke kick again. "Again?!" you might say...and the answer is yes, again, because this is probably the number one cause of DQs! This video is aimed especially at the Bronze swimmers (all you Silver and Gold swimmers should focus on the turns webinar above!), and includes a great exercise to practice your correct kick at home.
For our virtual swim meet race of the day, we're watching the men's 100m backstroke finals from the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. You can really see how the stroke has changed over the years, with these swimmers using more of a windmill stroke where the arms are straight under the water as well as over, and the recovery is much wider (the arms go out to the sides and not just straight up when they are out of the water). With all the talk we've done about underwaters, too, you can see that these swimmers still barely stay underwater at all. The winning (and record) time here was 1:02.2 seconds - compared to the 51.85 we watched Ryan Murphy go a few days ago!
First, a reminder that tomorrow is a our Create-Your-Own Funny Video Day (or, as I like to call it, Everyone's a Comedian), live on Zoom at 3 pm.
We are working on a variety of scenarios for what the pool schedule might look like if/when we are able to reopen this summer. To that end, we would be interested to know opinions about changing times. If you were thinking about doing summer swim team, would your swimmer be able to come earlier in the day if that was where we could get Stingrays into the schedule, or would a late morning/early afternoon time be a dealbreaker? Nothing is being set yet - we won't be allowed to open until Multnomah County enters Phase I, and they haven't even applied yet, nor are they expected to in the next couple of weeks - and state guidance on opening gyms has not yet been forthcoming, so please don't take this as anything to bet on! We are just trying to work on a variety of ideas so that we are a little more prepared when the time does come.
Since we watched Tyler Clary swim some butterfly last week, how about this week we watch him swim a lot of butterfly? This is a great live demo where he demonstrates the does and don'ts, so you can see some of the things your coaches cry about in action.
The timing of the breath in butterfly is something that swimmers frequently struggle to get right, so here's a brief video about where that breath should be. (For the record, Tyler's head position, in the webinar above, is definitely preferable to the look-at-the-wall breathing here - but the timing parts are perfect in both cases!)
Since we've made poor Tyler Clary swim a lot of butterfly recently, for our virtual swim meet entry today, let's watch him swim his favorite stroke in the men's 200 back finals from the 2012 London Olympics. That smooth, fluid backstroke is what we all aspire to!
Friday is upon us again, and it looks like it's going to be a beautiful weekend! We do have some unfortunate (though not unexpected) news to end the week: Oregon Swimming has just announced that they will be cancelling the summer championship meets. It is not yet clear whether those meets will be cancelled altogether or whether they will be rescheduled to the fall/winter and if they are rescheduled, what qualifying standards might look like (or even if they will remain long course). We will let you know as soon as we hear anything!
We've been holding on to the Eugene meet in June (which has not officially been cancelled yet), but at this point, with the likelihood that we won't be back in the pool till sometime in June at the earliest and with no championships to prepare for, we don't feel like it's reasonable to try to go to a meet in June or July. The latest info from the governor also makes it look unlikely that meets, at least as we know them, will be held at all this summer, so we expect everyone else to be in the same boat (a very large boat, so we can all stay 6' apart :-)).
We do, however, have some nice new resources this week from Oregon Swimming and USA Swimming! Oregon Swimming is offering a webinar series over the next three Saturdays just for OSI swimmers featuring top national swimmers. You can sign up to attend here. This is a fun opportunity to stay engaged with swimming and with other local athletes while learning from the best.
USA Swimming is also do a technique series on Tuesdays at 10 am. I missed seeing this earlier this week, so we missed butterfly, but there's still a chance to sign up for backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle over the next three weeks!
Since we did miss a butterfly webinar this week, for our technique video today, we'll go with that. This is a great overview of butterfly with some excellent video footage. Seeing what the stroke is meant to look like in the water is really valuable to knowing how you need to arrange your own body parts to achieve it!
To wrap up something of an IM-intensive week, it feels wrong to finish that up without having a look at the incomparable Katinka Hosszú of Hungary, who is the current world record holder in the 100 IM, 200 IM (short course and long course), and 400 IM (long course). Here she is swimming her most recent world record, in the 400 IM finals at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
It's already Thursday again, and we've had a great week so far. We loved seeing everyone on our Zoom calls this week, and we hope next week is the same!
To help us recover from Coach John's dryland yesterday, why not try cooking another nutritious recipe? Nutrition is just as important right now when we are out of the water as it is when we are swimming - and now we have all the time in the world to develop great habits!
For our technique tip today, we're looking at the breaststroke arm pull. There are a lot of technical details to getting this just right, and it's important to remember that the arms need to be simultaneous at all times (including when you touch the wall!) and the hands cannot go below the hips at any point (except for in the first stroke off the wall doing a pull-down).
Since we're talking about breaststroke, today's virtual meet video will be the semifinals of the men's 100m breaststroke at the 2019 World Championships. In this race, Adam Peaty of the UK became the first person ever to go under 57 seconds in the 100 breaststroke (long course) - and if you might doubt how dominant that makes him, know that he also remains the only person to have gone under 58 seconds.
We'll leave you with a little swimming footage of a different nature - check out the swimming technique used by a raccoon! (I'd call it more of a doggy paddle - maybe the dog taught him how!) We're sorry to say that we aren't going to be bringing in raccoons for swim practice...unless some day we build an outdoor pool and then, well, who can say? :-D
Happy hump day! Don't forget dryland with Coach John today at 3:30 pm. Try to bring the same "equipment" as usual - a broom, a 5 lb object, and a deck of cards (or something similar in size). And as always, if you don't have these things, you can totally do it without them.
We had fun dressing up our animals (real and stuffed) yesterday; join us on Zoom next Tuesday at 3:00 for Homemade Funny Videos (G-rated, please)!
We've seen some great talks from Olympians the past couple of weeks, so today let's check out a great Paralympian, Rudy Garcia-Tolson. Not only is he a swimmer, but also a runner, having also medaled in the 100 meter dash at the Parapan American Games (the para equivalent of the Pan American Games). Very few people manage to compete at an international level in more than one sport, so suffice it to say that Garcia-Tolson is an impressive athlete!
We're on a little bit of an IM theme, so today let's look at the different ways of completing the backstroke to breaststroke turn in the 100, 200, or 400 IM. We mainly teach the open turn, which is the easiest and safest (both physically safest and safest from getting DQed) but are happy to help more advanced swimmers explore the other options as the topic arises! Even if you always do open turns, though, it is nice to know what those other variations you see at meets and in other videos are!
For our virtual swim meet race today, we'll check out the above-mentioned Rudy Garcia-Tolson swimming in the 200m IM SM7 final at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics. Do note that the world record he bests by almost two seconds was one he set himself in the preliminary heats of the same race!
The sun is back, the roses are blooming (and so are the weeds...at least in my yard!) and it's a beautiful Tuesday. Check out the MJCC Facebook page for live activities all day today - for parents and for kids! - as we work on raising money for the J!
One of our very first virtual races featured Katie Ledecky (and there's another one below), so its extra fun to watch an interview with her and learn more about her background and plans for the future.
Since we looked at the roll in backstroke yesterday, today we are looking at the roll in freestyle. The freestyle roll makes your stroke more powerful and it uses your body (especially your shoulders) in a way that helps prevent injury, which is one of our top priorities. One thing to note in this video that talks about swimming "underwater" instead of on top: everyone's point of neutral buoyancy is a little different, so that position looks a little different for each person. The important point is to keep your body line and work with the water rather than fighting it!
On the world stage, Katie Ledecky is definitely all freestyle, but in national competition she also rocks the 400 IM. It doesn't appear that there's video available of her full 400 IM from the 2018 Pac-12 Championships, where she bested all-time great IMer Katinka Hosszú's short course yards record, so today we are watching the 2019 Pro Swim Series Knoxville (long course) meet. I would not generally recommend being two and a half seconds behind going into the freestyle as a 400 IM strategy, but if you are Katie Ledecky, you can make it work!
It's a new week, and it's time for some new swimming fun! Remember to head over to the MJCC website to sign up to attend our virtual Community Celebration on Thursday, May 14 t 5 pm via Zoom. You'll need to sign up to get the link - and then you will get to see some of our very own Stingrays honored!
Don't forget that tomorrow (Tuesday) is our Animals in Costumes Zoom - this week at 4:30 instead of 3, because of our day-long fundraising campaign that goes till 4! Dress up a real animal, a stuffed animal, or any version of an animal you can come up with.
Then on Wednesday we have dryland with Coach John at 3:30 - be there or be square! :-)
To start out the week, how about some tips on relaxation from a couple of Olympians? We all get nervous at meets and even sometimes at practice, so learning how to control those nerves is beneficial for everyone!
Today for our technique tip we're talking about body rotation in backstroke. We talk about this frequently in practice, so now we are going to watch it in action (along with a little explanation of why it is important). Always remember that backstroke is not swum on your back - it's actually swum on your side (as is freestyle)!
For our virtual swim meet entry today, we're watching a fantastic backstroker, Ryan Murphy, lead off the men's 4x100m medley relay for the US at the 2016 Rio Olympics. The headlines may be all about Michael Phelps' final Olympic gold medal, but not only does Murphy break the world record in the backstroke leg, but the mark he bests, by the great Aaron Peirsol, is one of the many suit-era records that had stood for several years at this point. (Murphy remains the record-holder four years later, though who knows what might have happened this summer had the Olympics been held!)
Congratulations on making it to the end of Week 7! It seems more like seven years sometimes, and we all deserve a round of applause for figuring out how to navigate this new strange world!
Yesterday's webinar about the 200 IM is excellent watching for any of our current or hopeful IMers (which really should be everyone, if you ask the coaches!). The focus is specifically on the short course 200 IM, which is what most of our swimmers will do most of the time, and the conclusions about the most important parts of the race may be surprising...or may not be, if you remember all the time we spend talking about good streamlines and underwaters off the walls...
Since we talking about the 200 IM, here's a quicker video that hits the highlights on where to focus and how to pace your race. The 200 IM is often a favorite because it seems easier than the other 200s since you get to switch strokes (and no matter which stroke is your favorite, you get to swim it!), but there's a lot of planning that goes into this one, too...and you still have to swim your weakest stroke, so hard work on whichever that may be will definitely pay off, too.
To wrap up 200 IM day, our virtual swim meet race is, you guessed, the 200 IM (scy) - from the 1961 AAU national championships. The winner here, Ted Stickles, was a dominate force in the IMs in the early 60s. He never competed in the Olympics, missing the 1964 Games due to tendonitis (his sister Terri made the team and brought home bronze in the 400 free), but between the 200 IM and 400 IM he set nine world records (all long course - short course world record recording didn't begin until the 90s). Over the course of a single year, from the summer of 1960 to the summer of 1961, he lowered his world record in the 200 IM from 2:22.1 to 2:15.5 (lcm). Not content there, over the course of the next year (summer '61 through summer '62) he set and lowered his world record for the 400 IM from 5:04.3 to 4:51.0. He had not even begun swimming competitively until he was in high school in the late 50s.
Happy Thursday! It looks like the sun will peak out this afternoon, so it seems like an excellent day to go for a walk (while keeping your distance, of course!). The flowers are really starting to bloom, and the world just seems like a better place outside right now!
USA Swimming did a nice, brief webinar on visualization and how we can all come back as better technical swimmers even though we're spending so much time out of the water. This one is quick (thirteen minutes or so) and basic enough - but with some insight that is also good for the more advanced among us - that it is really good for all ages.
Speaking of learning better technique without the pool...today's technique video is about posture in freestyle, and especially good head position. Trying to look forward instead of down is a very common mistake in freestyle, and as you can see in this video, it affects your whole body and makes your stroke both slower and more tiring (and we don't like either of those things!) - and it may eventually cause pain as it keeps your neck and back muscles under stress in a way that they are not designed to handle.
For today's virtual swim meet race, we're headed to the 1988 Seoul Olympics to watch the men's 100m fly final. Getting caught on a half-stroke at the finish is always annoying, but it's WAY more annoying when it costs you Olympic gold. And none of that makes the come-from-behind swim for that medal any less impressive in it's own right!
It's Day 44, and it's hump day! We had another great dryland, and can report that all coaches have survived. So far.
A quick change to our schedule for next week: because the MJCC will be celebrating our "Day for the J" with Facebook Live programming all day , we will push back our Tuesday Animal Dress-Up fun to 4:30 instead of 3:00 - we'll see you there!
A quick reminder that we need to know by tomorrow if you are willing to pay all or part of your swim team fees as a donation for the month of May. We are not charging anyone who does not specifically tell us that they would like to donate, even if you paid last month, so please shoot Jennie an email (firstname.lastname@example.org - or just reply to this email) if you are willing and able to do that. We are so appreciative of everyone who is able to help us out in any way!
Speaking of ways you can help: we are still looking for photos from the Stingrays season (or of Stingrays athletes in high school, CYO, or other meets) or of Stingrays making the best of quarantine season so that we can have a full slide show for our (probably virtual) end-of-season celebration. And make sure your calendars are marked for Thursday, May 28 at 4:15 pm!
As promised, our technique tip today takes our underwaters to a more advanced level. This video is longer and more technical than yesterday's, and would appeal most to advanced Silver and Gold swimmers. There is some excellent video anaylsis of multiple top swimmers, along with measurements of acceleration to help illustrate how different aspects of technique affect speed and efficiency. For those who like to know "why," this will be particularly interesting!
And again keeping with the theme, our virtual meet entry today is the men's 200 fly final from the 2006 Pan Pacific Championships. Although the race footage doesn't have the camera underwater for as long as we might like, watch turn 3 to see what a powerful, long underwater does to get you into the lead...and in this case, into the world record. (Or into a new version of your own world record, as the case may be.) The fact that Phelps can do this after 150 meters of butterfly is maybe the most impressive part of the whole thing. [As a side note, some of the underwater camera footage of the fly parts gives us an excellent illustration of what we mean about pressing the chest down at the front of the stroke!]
We had a great time today sharing our animals (though many of us had a hard time narrowing it down to just one favorite!), which inspired us for next week's theme: dress an animal up in a funny costume. If you don't have a pet or your pet would not enjoy this, please just dress up a stuffed animal or even create us some artwork of an animal dressed in a funny costume!
Don't forget dryland with Coach John tomorrow at 3:30! Bring the same equipment as last time (an object that's about 5 lbs, a broomstick, and a deck of card - or similar things), or join us anyway if you don't have those things. We love to see everyone working out with us!
There was a fun webinar today with Olympian Jenny Thompson, who came from the small town of Dover, New Hampshire, which happens to be one of the many places Coach Jennie has called home. It's fun to hear these athletes reminisce, and see where they are now and all the cool places swimmers end up in the world!
For our swim technique of the day, we're looking at our underwaters again, focusing today on the basics. This is good watching for Junior Rays, Bronze, and beginning Silver swimmers - we'll have some more advanced advice on the same subject tomorrow for our more experienced Silver and Gold swimmers!
For our virtual swim meet entry today, we will combine our two other videos today and go back to the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, and watch the women's 4x100 free relay final. In lane 4, Jenny Thompson swims the anchor leg, preceded by Angel Martino, Amy Van Dyken, and Catherine Fox - and they all have excellent underwaters. If you watch Catherine Fox's turn (the third leg), especially, you'll see her stay underwater much longer than the competition, and really pull ahead due to that.
That's right, we've arrived: it is officially Day 42, which the sci fi fans among us will recognize as The Answer. That we do not yet know The Question seems particularly fitting for this point in time!
Don't forget our Favorite Animal Day tomorrow at 3 pm on Zoom. Bring your favorite animal (in person or via picture or video) to share with us all!
Today's webinar about goal setting and visualization is definitely worth listening to for all of our more competition-oriented swimmers, especially those who are 12 or 13 and over. There are even some tips about how working on the habits necessary to see our way to our goals can be done even - maybe even especially - now when we are out of the water.
Last week we talked about some basics of both backstroke starts and backstroke turns, so today's video talks a little more about how to perfect these skills for those who are already proficient. We particularly like the advice about making sure you are really driving into the turn. Our officials who are reading this email can tell us if they agree or not, but on the finishes the female swimmer looks like she is flirting with disqualification for re-submerging entirely before she touches the wall (if you watch the others, they all have a foot out of the water as they touch).
For today's virtual race, we're watching the finals of the women's 200m fly at the 2009 Chinese Nationals. For just a couple of years, between early 2008 and January 1, 2010, a new type of high-tech swimsuit that was partly made of polyurethane was front and center on the world stage. These suits were extra buoyant, provided a lot of compression, and dramatically reduced friction between the swimmer and the water. World records fell left and right during what is commonly known as the "suit era," before they were finally banned by FINA as "technological doping." It took many years for the records from the suit era to fall once swimmers were required to wear suits made of "textile materials" again (FINA also changed the rules on length of suits at that point, and now suits cannot extend below the knee for men or women, nor above the waist for me or past the neck or shoulders for women). Ten years later, most of those records have finally been broken (it wasn't until Rio in 2016 that we really started seeing a number of new records), but on the women's side, two still stand - the 100 free and the 200 fly (there are a handful on the men's side, as well). That women's 200 fly, in particular, is often thought to be the suit record that will take the longest to fall; the record, seen in this video, stands at 2:01.81, with the fastest women's 200m fly in a textile suit standing over two seconds slower, at 2:04.06 (fellow Chinese swimmer Jiao Liuyang set that mark in the 2012 London Olympics). No other race of similar length has such a huge margin between the two suit types; only the men's 800 free has a bigger difference (5 seconds and change).
It's Day 39 AND it's Friday - and we don't know about you, but we're definitely thankful for that second part!
We have several swimmers who are also runners, so especially for them - but certainly interesting for all - we have How Attitude Affects Performance, with both a great swimming coach and two-time gold medalist runner, Gail Devers.
Anyone interested in attending our MJCC Community Celebration at 5 pm on May 14 should register here to get the link. Some of our very own Stingrays will be featured!
April is almost over, but a virtual trip to the library just revealed that for the rest of the month, all digital copies of the first Harry Potter book are available with no wait. Both Multnomah County and Washington County have the ebook and the audiobook available in several languages, as well, so it could be fun to try in a second language for those who are studying one! (You still get to borrow it for the usual 21 days; you just have to check it out while it's still April.) Both counties are now offering the opportunity to sign up for library cards online, too, so even if you don't have a library card yet, that's easy to fix!
Back to swimming...today we are going to learn a little about the backstroke start, focusing on the correct starting position. The video shows the start several times from different angles, as well, so you can get a really good idea of what it should look like!
For today's virtual swim meet entry, we have the men's 100m freestyle from the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Don Schollander, who would win record (for swimming) four gold medals in Tokyo, started his swimming career on the Lake Oswego High School team. As an adult, he eventually moved back to Lake Oswego, where he still lives. As of 2016 (I couldn't find any later references, so maybe still!), you could see his medals on display at the Bank of America branch in downtown Lake Oswego.
Thank you to those who have sent slideshow pictures! Just a reminder for Bronze, Silver, and Gold families that we are looking for pictures of your swimmer - swimming, at a meet, pining for the pool at home, etc - for our end-of-year slideshow. You can email them to Jennie (email@example.com) to help us make sure all of our swimmers are featured!
We're finding it hard to believe that it's nearly May, but since it is - if you are able and willing to pay your May swim team fees (or a portion thereof), please shoot me (Jennie) an email by April 30 so I can get that list to the billing department. We will again not be auto-charging anyone for swim team, so if you can't or don't wish to pay, you don't need to do anything. (For those who are members - in case you missed the member email earlier this week - memberships will be treated in accordance with whatever you did last month, unless you let the membership department know otherwise.) As the MJCC is a non-profit, any payments during this time when we are not offering normal services in exchange are considered tax-deductible donations, so you will get a donation letter at the end of the year. We are so appreciative of everyone's support - always, but especially now. We also know that support takes many forms, so please don't feel any less valued if you aren't able to continue financial support right now; helping your swimmers stay engaged, encouraging them to come say hi on our Zoom calls, or even just positive thoughts are all equally appreciated.
For our technique today we are revisiting the breaststroke kick, with an emphasis on two elements: for our younger swimmers, getting rid of the dreaded scissor kick, and for our more advanced swimmers, transitioning from a frog kick to a whip kick. It's important to note that the scissor kick is actually against the rules, and is probably the most common cause for disqualifications in breaststroke at swim meets. The frog kick is inefficient but not illegal - it is often taught as an intermediate stage in the breaststroke, as swimmers learn to get past the urge to do the scissor kick. As swimmers become more accomplished, we start encouraging them to keep their knees closer together and evolve their kick into the correct whip kick.
For our virtual swim meet, today we reach far back in video history to the 1908 London Olympics - the swimming is between 4:14 and 4:37 in the video, which is the earliest video of Olympic swimming we could find. It's hard to say what race this is, though freestyle that year was contested in lengths of 100m, 400m, and 1500 m (as well as the4x200 free relay, though this certainly doesn't appear to be a relay). Only men were allowed to compete (women's events were added in 1912). Many elements of swimming, from diving to stroke efficiency to equipment were clearly much different in 1908, but the London Olympics represented a major step forward for modern swimming: these were the first Olympics where swimming was contested in a pool! The first modern Olympics, in Athens in 1896, swimming was contested in a bay in the Mediterranean; in Paris in 1900 it was in the River Seine; and in St Louis in 1904 it was in an artificial pond. London, scrambling to put together on Olympic venue on just two years' notice after the Games had to be relocated from Rome due to the financial impact of the eruption of Mt Vesuvius, built the first Olympic pool inside the track and field stadium (earlier in the video you can see a bicycle race happening on the track during a water polo game!). Since they had a lot of room to work with, they also built what remains the largest Olympic swimming venue ever, with a spectator capacity of 97,000 (by comparison, the next biggest would be in Athens in 2004, where three pools together had a spectator capacity of 23,000) and a pool that was 100m long (yes, you read that right). Water treatment standards, though, were not what they are now and the water was reportedly murky and cold, adding extra challenges to the competition. Sadly, the pool was removed after the Olympics; the stadium itself stood until 1985.
We were so happy to see some "new" faces again in dryland today - thank you for joining us! We will be continuing our dryland on Wednesdays at 3:30 for the next few weeks (at least), so keep that on your calendars and keep coming back. Coach John has some excellent workouts in store, specially designed to try and make Coach Jennie (who through being stuck at home is unable to pursue either of her usual sports - swimming and horseback riding) as sore as possible.
Speaking of working out...why not try another dose of yoga for swimmers? Yoga will help your strength and flexibility so you can be even better once we're swimming again!
We have another great documentary that's available to watch for free right now - Touch the Wall, which follows Missy Franklin's journey to the Olympics. When this film came out several years ago, we went to see it in the theater as a team (as some may remember!), and many of our swimmers found it very interesting and inspirational. We had swimmers as young as seven in attendance who loved the film (though it is aimed at a little older audience), so it really is something any of our swimmers could enjoy, including the Junior Rays!
Our swimming technique tip today is about every coach's favorite part of swimming: the streamline! Since we do streamlines off every single wall in every single stroke, they are incredibly important. They are also something you can practice every day at home, as shown in the video!
Our virtual swim meet entry today is heat 1 of the men's 100m freestyle prelims from the Sydney Olympics in 2000. As well as showing the race, the video tells the story of Eric Moussambani of Equatorial Guinea, who made his country's Olympic team on a wildcard spot (wildcard draws help athletes from developing countries get to the Olympics even though they may lack the facilities to train to a standard that meets the usual qualifications), having never even seen a 50-meter pool before he arrived in Sydney. Though his time was slower than many of even our younger swimmers, he won his heat (the other two entrants were disqualified for false starts) and inspired his country. Equatorial Guinea, which previously had only two pools - both tiny pools at hotels - in the entire country, now has two 50-meter pools, and Moussambani (who eventually lowered his 100m free time to 57 seconds!) is the national team coach.
We had another great chat today - tune in next Tuesday at 3 for our Animal Day, and show off your favorite animal (in person or via photo/video!). And of course, we want to see everyone for all-ages dryland tomorrow (Wednesday) at 3:30 with Coach John! You'll need the same "equipment" as last week - a broomstick, a deck of cards, and something (like a book) that weighs about 5 lbs. It's OK if you don't have the equipment or if you improvise with something else similar!
We have a great opportunity to show off to the MJCC community coming up with the first ever MJCC Virtual Talent Show! The talent show will be Friday, May 1st at 2 pm, and we encourage anyone who is interested to sign up with their act ASAP. Each participant gets three minutes to show off their biggest talent (like our Stingrays stuff, this has to be kept G-rated!). To participate, just head over and fill out this form (only those who submit the form will be allowed to perform).
Yesterday's "Mental Skills Monday" was a quick (half-our) webinar about commitment - what it means, why it's important, and how to do it! This is probably most appropriate for our swimmers who are 12 & over; younger swimmers might get a little bored.
Today we're talking about butterfly arms (and a little bit about other parts of butterfly, since it's a stroke where everything is so connected). Noticed how nice and straight the arms are during the recovery (out of the water phase), and how they go in about shoulder-width apart on each stroke. Entering the water too narrow makes for sore shoulders, and too wide means you are giving up some of the power you could get out of the stroke!
Our virtual swim meet race today is inspired by this video, which a couple of fellow swimmers have shared with me! If you're looking for an excellent ab workout, here it is... (Also, this is a great way to look at the mechanics of breaststroke arms with no water in the way to cloud the view!) So our race today is the women's 200m breaststroke from the 2019 World Championships. Yulia Efimova is in lane 4 with the pink cap. It's interesting to watch the tempo change from the extremely long glide of the first 100-150 meters to the fairly short glide in the last 50, saving some of those fast twitch muscles for the drive down to the finish. (Note that in order to use this pacing technique to this degree and have it work, you have to have a world-class propulsive kick and an exceptionally hydrodynamic body line underwater.)
It's hard to believe that we've been at this for over a month, and yet here we are! USA Swimming is bringing us a great opportunity this week with free access to the documentary The Last Gold. You might remember one of our virtual swim meet races was the women's 4x100m free relay from the Montreal Olympics; this documentary covers the US women's team's struggle at that Olympics, culminating in the relay we watched. You can watch it now on Vimeo, using the password lastgold2016.
Everyone either loves or hates doing starts, and we've got the best thing for both types of swimmer with a webinar Breaking Down Front Starts. If you love starts, here's a whole hour of talk about how to make them EVEN BETTER. If you hate starts, here's a chance to learn about them without actually having to do one - and it might just help make them more fun once we are back in the pool. There are even some suggestions for things you can do on dry land to make your starts better!
Speaking of dryland...don't forget our TWO Zoom get-togethers this week: tomorrow (Tuesday) at 3:00 pm, when we will be chatting and sharing our (serious or crazy) workout selfies, and Wednesday at 3:30 pm to do a most excellent dryland workout with Coach John.
You might have thought that there were two types of turns in swimming, but there are actually seven (or more - not all of the less common options are shown in this video). We aren't necessarily breaking down a technique with today's video, but there is some great underwater footage here so you can see what these turns should really look like!
Our virtual swim meet race today is, like last Friday's, something on the subject of ties in swimming. Today, if two swimmers tie to the hundredths of a second in a finals race, they are both awarded equal placing and points (in a qualifying heat, ties that would affect a finals qualification are resolved with a swim-off). It was not always so, though, and in the men's 400m IM in the 1972 Munich Olympics, a tie for gold was settled by going to the thousandths of a second, with the ultimate difference between gold and silver coming down to a mere 2/1000ths. The swimmers to watch here are Sweden's Gunnar Larsson in lane 4 (counting from the top of the screen) and Tim McKee of the US in lane 7. (Gary Hall, Sr in lane 6 gives an excellent demonstration of why a good breaststroke is so important in the IM...)
So what is the problem with using thousandths? The answer lies in construction. It is impossible to build a pool that is EXACTLY the same length every day in every lane. Temperature, water volume, and even the volume of people in the pool make tiny differences in its size and shape. (For a quick experiment, grab a basic plastic storage tub and fill it up with water - the sides will start to bulge a little!) For this reason, the rules allow a difference of up to 3 cm between lanes, and while you would never notice that you swam a tiny 3 cm further than the swimmer next to you, the clock might - if it was timing to the thousandths. In fact, if you take the current world record pace for the 50m freestyle, a swimmer swimming that fast would go 2.39 mm in 1/1000th of a second...but his lane be over ten times that much longer than his competitors. Our modern timing equipment is capable of timing to the millionths, but if we actually recorded to that degree of precision, in a close finish we would never know if a swimmer won because she was faster or because her lane was just a tiny bit shorter. The hundredths is as fast as we can record and know that the minute changes in pool size aren't affecting the placings.
First thing today, we have a request for assistance from everyone: as returning swimmers know, we do an end-of-year celebration for Stingrays (Bronze, Silver, and Gold - we have a different fun day for Junior Rays at practice, so the below doesn't apply to them!) each May to honor everyone's hard work and say goodbye to the regular season. This year's is scheduled for Thursday, May 28 at 4:15 pm. It looks increasingly unlikely that we will be having a large gathering of this sort in person, even if we are able to swim by then, but we will go ahead online if we need to! Each year we have a slideshow commemorating the season, with pictures from meets and practices. We work very hard to make sure that every single swimmer is represented in the slideshow...but the bulk of those photos are taken between March and May. Thus, our need is this: if you have any photos of your swimmer from this past season, whether at practice, in a meet (high school meets count!), or sitting at home on the porch wearing their cap and goggles feeling the nostalgia (or any other creativity they can come up with!), we would very much appreciate you emailing them to Jennie at firstname.lastname@example.org. Pictures with more than one Stingray (pre-quarantine, of course) are especially appreciated - you may have captured someone else of whom we are lacking pictures as well as your own swimmer!
As we say goodbye to another week, do check out the upcoming webinars at Fitter and Faster. There's even one specifically for younger (11 & under) swimmers tomorrow at 10 am, which would be great for those swimmers for whom some of this online content has been a little advanced!
Meanwhile, especially for our breaststrokers and breaststrokers-to-be, check out the second part of Breaking Down Breaststroke. There's science behind the idea that visualizing yourself doing things well helps you actually do them, so don't discount what you can learn about these strokes even without access to the pool!
Coming up next week in Stingray-land, remember our Workout Selfie Challenge on Tuesday at 3; as those who have been coming regularly can attest, your entries are not required to be serious (just appropriate), and you are always welcome to participate even if you haven't got an "entry" for the theme! We will also continue doing dryland with Coach John on Wednesdays at 3:30 (note slight time change!).
Today we're going to talk about backstroke flip turns. This is more of an intro/refresher for swimmers who haven't done backstroke flip-turns yet or have just started learning them! Note that when he talks about the stroke count to the wall, we want to see the version he talks about where you take your stroke count between the flags and the wall and subtract 1.
Our virtual swim meet race today is the women's 100m freestyle final from the 2016 Rio Olympics. The come-from-behind (on the part of both winners!) race makes Simone Manuel the first black woman ever to win Gold in an individual swimming event. A fun fact about breathing pattern in this race: if you watch Manuel's breaths, she varies between every two and every four strokes, and always to the left. As any Stingray can tell you, breathing to only one side is likely to get you yelled at by your coach! Except in this case, after trying and timing a variety of options, Manuel's coach noticed that she was FASTER when she breathed on an even number of strokes...to her non-dominant side. That's what you see in this race - like many of us, Manuel would rather breathe to the right, but because we tend to just want to get the breath over with when it's to our weaker side, it makes the breath, and therefore the swim, faster. (Bad news, though, for anyone hoping to use this as an excuse - in practice, Manuel breathes bilaterally just like everyone else!)
Yesterday's Zoom dryland was super fun, and we hope to see everyone back next week. It's great to see the team - we miss everyone!
There's a great stroke analysis webinar up. The coaches explain some great stuff about stroke mechanics for freestyle, with videos of a top swimmer to illustrate their talk. There's really nothing like seeing it in real life to make the things we say all the time understandable!
While we're at home learning new things...how about trying some different ways of putting on your swim cap? Just don't try #5...or #1... :-)
For our technique tip of the day (no, putting on your swim cap wasn't it), we'll talk about butterfly timing. Timing is both the hardest and the most essential part of butterfly - it often takes a long time to get right, but once it does, butterfly isn't nearly so difficult anymore!
In our virtual swim meet, we've already featured Rowdy Gaines at the Olympics - but he also had a long and decorated Masters swimming career afterwards, and still holds several US Masters records. Here he is swimming the 100 free at the first annual Rowdy Gaines Masters Classic in Florida, 25 years after the last race we watched. Not only did he set a world record for his age group, but he commentating in this one is particularly entertaining...
Welcome to Wednesday!
Don't forget our first Zoom dryland with John today at 3 pm. We'd love to see a big turnout from all of our groups, so set your alarms and we'll see you soon!
We also have next week's social hour topic picked out, since we are all ready for dryland today: Workout Selfie Challenge. Take a selfie (or have someone else take a picture of you) working out in any way (as always, crazy is encouraged as long as it's appropriate!), and "bring" it to share with the group!
For our budding cooks out there - including everyone who is just bored and needs something to do - check out the second episode of Athlete Nutrition and Cooking Habits. Quarantine is a great time to learn a new skill OR brush up on an old one!
Today's technique tip is about how to do - and perfect - freestyle flip turns. For our Junior Rays and Bronze swimmers (or anyone having trouble getting into and out of their turns straight), grab some cushions and practice those somersaults at home!
Our virtual swim meet race today is the men's 100m freestyle from the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. We watched Mark Spitz last week, so this week we watch Mark Spitz commentating on Rowdy Gaines - whose name you may recognize as the color commentator from all the more recent Olympic videos we've been watching! In a situation that some of our top swimmers in the country are feeling right now, Gaines was all set to go to the 1980 Moscow Olympics, and was the favorite to win multiple medals. When the US (and many other countries) boycotted the Games due to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Gaines lost his chance and briefly quit swimming, but decided to come back and try for Los Angeles. While he only managed to qualify for one individual event, he did bring home three golds, as he swam on both the 400 free relay and the 400 medley relay.
While on the hunt for great swimming videos, we came across "Things Swimmers NEVER Say." We're pretty sure that all the Stingrays will agree that they would never say any of these things...you can let us know if we are wrong!
Today, we're thinking about open turns - the turns we do for butterfly and breaststroke, and for freestyle and backstroke before we've learned flip turns. This video covers not just the technique, but also all the common mistakes we see every day in practice (and at meets...). You can absolutely practice the basic motions on dry land with a wall or countertop, and help build muscle memory for once we are back in the pool!
Today's virtual swim meet race is both newer and older than recent entries - we're watching then-100 year-old George Corones in the mixed 50m freestyle at the June 2018 Brisbane Southside Masters' meet in Australia. One of our favorite things about swimming is that it is truly a lifelong sport, and this video certainly proves that!
For the new week we have a new exciting opportunity - we are starting dryland with Coach John on Wednesdays! We're hoping to continue this each Wednesday at least through May, and hopefully longer. It will be helpful if you have a broomstick (or something similarly long and straight), a deck of cards (or something of that size that you can easily grab in one hand, and something that weighs about five pounds (like a science textbook) - but you will also be able to do the workout without equipment if you don't have it. Log onto this Zoom link each Wednesday at 3 and workout with us!
But before we get to Wednesday, why not head outside after dinner (or after breakfast tomorrow) and try some yoga for swimmers? Everyone probably needs some relaxation and stress relief right now, and this could be a great solution.
Remember that tomorrow (Tuesday) is our weekly virtual meet-up, and this time we are sharing our favorite cute video (whether found or made). Come join us at 3 pm for some good times!
Our technique tip of the day is a little different - we're going to learn about the right technique for fitting and wearing goggles. Properly-fitted goggles can make ALL the difference between having a good day at practice and having a miserable one, and they also make a HUGE difference when learning to dive. Swimmers with goggles that always come off or leak tend to take a lot longer to learn to dive, because they know every dive is going to be uncomfortable!
For our virtual swim meet race today, we go to the 1996 Atlanta Olympics to watch the women's 200m backstroke final. This race was the last of Hungarian Krisztina Egerszegi's career, and though she missed the world record (which she already held), it was still record-setting in a couple of ways. First, she joined Australia's Dawn Fraser as only the second swimmer in Olympic history to win gold in the same event in three consecutive Olympics (Micheal Phelps would later make it a trio, and then go one-up to get four consecutive golds in the 200 IM). More impressive at least from a viewing perspective, her 4.15-second margin of victory is still the greatest of any women's 200m event ever.
We've made to the end of Week 4 - congratulations! As we head into the weekend, we have another day of fun for you all.
Let's finish the week with some dryland fitness: check out a video-led workout for 9-12 year-olds or one for 13 & overs! It's a great idea to save some of these workout links if you like them, and do each one a couple of times a week, so you get enough repetition without it being too much!
Today, we're going to talk about breaststroke arms - and five common mistakes. At the end of the video, the swimmer does a demonstration of correct breaststroke, so if any of the "nos" are confusing, check out the difference between the "bad" and the "good" at the end!
For our virtual swim meet race of the day, we head back to the 1996 Atlanta Olympics to watch an exciting women's 100m breaststroke final. Fourteen year-old Amanda Beard, in lane 5, became the second-youngest American ever to win a medal at the Olympics (then-13 year-old Marjorie Gestring was the youngest, winning gold in the 3-meter springboard diving event in 1936). We love the glides on all these swimmers (not that we expected anything else in the Olympic finals...).
I think it might be safe to say that spring is here...we have lots of flowers starting to bloom, the sun is out, and it's warm enough to sit on the porch and talk to people who are a safe distance away on the sidewalk! This would be a great day to grab your favorite dryland routine and head outside to do it in the yard or on the porch, or wherever you have access to the sunshine.
Passover begins tonight, so we will not have an email tomorrow as the J doesn't offer any programming on the first day of Passover. I'll be off tomorrow and Friday, but you can look forward to some fun content on Friday because we already scheduled an email to go out. :-)
Our older and more competition-focused swimmers may benefit from the Balancing School and Swimming webinar - with ideas to tuck away from when we ARE doing normal school and swimming again. The focus is largely on college swimming, but much or it is applicable to high school and even earlier.
In practice, everyone is always asking when we get to do starts - so today, we'll be talking about starting technique. Watching the slow-mo version at the end a couple of times will really help to see the position you should be in going into the water!
For our virtual swim meet race today, we go back to another great in American swimming and watch the 1972 Munich Olympics' men's 4x100 medley relay final. The US is in lane 4, East Germany is in 5, and Canada is in lane 6 (count from the top of the screen at the start). The most exciting part of this race may be the competition for the silver medal at the end, most of which we don't get to see because (spoilers) the US is so far out in front by then. The history-making part of the race, though, is that Mark Spitz (butterfly) wins his 7th gold medal and sets his 7th world record of the Games. Spitz was the first Olympian to win seven golds in a single Games, and the record would stand until Michael Phelps won eight golds in 2008. Spitz was also tied four ways for the most career Olympic gold medals, with nine (he also won two golds in relays in 1968), until Michael Phelps came along and won twenty-three. Fun fact for JCC swimmers: Spitz's first international swimming event was in 1965 at the Maccabiah Games in Israel!
Our Build-Your-Own Stingray Challenge today was a success! We hope to see everyone back next week at the same time (Tuesday at 3 pm) for our next get-together. Next week we will be showing the CUTEST videos we can make or find (again, parent supervision to ensure appropriateness is appreciated!).
Be sure to check out the backstroke webinar, with tips from Olympic backstrokers to help perfect your technique.
Today's technique tip is about the freestyle kick (with some good advice about stroke timing thrown in, too). We are always working on our kicks in practice, and many of our swimmers will recognize the admonition to speed up those legs and swim with three kicks per arm stroke!
Our virtual swim meet race today is the men's 200m free from the 2004 Athens Olympics. This is just a fun race to watch, featuring three of the best male freestylers ever - Ian Thorpe (lane 5), Pieter van den Hoogenband (lane 4), and Michael Phelps (lane 3).
Finally, a note to please save the date for Thursday, May 14 at 5pm, when we will be taking our planned MJCC Community Celebration online to honor exceptional members of our community. We will have some Stingrays featured, so mark your calendars to come celebrate the community and our team!
Welcome to another week! Passover begins Wednesday evening, so I will be off this Thursday and Friday and next Wednesday and Thursday. I should get emails scheduled to go out most of those days, but this Thursday, as the first day of Passover, is a day that the J would be closed, and we are not offering any programming that day so I will miss you all then!
Before that, though, remember our Create-Your-Own-Stingray Challenge tomorrow (Tuesday) at 3 on Zoom. Our challenge is to create the stingray from our logo (see the top of the email!) out of materials you have at home. It can be as simple (a drawing) or as complicated (every book you own arranged in the shape of a stingray in your living room) as you want it to be!
The Dealing with Disappointment webinar this morning had some excellent advice for goal-setting, motivation, and the bumpy road to success. It's worth a watch for any of our swimmers who are interested in competition, from Bronze all the way up to Gold.
We know a lot of us are still adapting to this new lifestyle we've found ourselves in, and one of our swim families shared with us this method for organization, which seems like it would work for both adults and kids - and would be something our older swimmers could set up for themselves, as everyone embarks on this distance learning stuff! (Just make sure you put swim team activities on the list...)
Our technique tip of the day is about the backstroke pull. This video includes some tips for how to practice the bent arm and catch at home, too! A lot of our swimmers like to swim with straight arms underwater, so practicing the bent elbow pull out of the water is a big help!
Our virtual swim meet race today is the men's 100m freestyle final at the 1960 Rome Olympics. The video does a good job explaining what is extra interesting about this particular race, so we will leave it to them!
Since we'll have EVEN MORE TIME over the weekend than we already had all week, do check out the Fitter & Faster Stroke Analysis webcast. You'll get to see videos and critiques of both correct and incorrect form, which is a really useful way of learning the details. Also, don't forget to sign up for some of next week's webinars while you are at it. I've enjoyed all of those that I have watched so far!
For staying fit at home, here's another fun dryland workout using your backpack as your weight equipment. You can do this circuit several times through; just make sure you don't pack too much into your backpack, and as always - if something hurts (not just fatigue, but actual pain), stop doing it and move on to another exercise! :-)
Our technique tip of the day today is about all the don'ts. This topic is a favorite (or not) with swimmers: the most common ways to get disqualified. Not only is this useful to know and review, but watching the clearly accomplished swimmer who is demonstrating in this video try really hard to do things wrong is extra amusing.
Finally, for our virtual swim meet race of the day, we have the men's 50m breaststroke sb2 final from the Rio Paralympic Games. (Paralympic athletes are classified by their degree of impairment, and compete against others of like ability, with the lower numbers being the greater impairment. Breaststrokers are classified SB1-SB9.) It's neat to see the different modifications swimmers make to the stroke...and are still probably faster than I am! :-)
We had a great funny video zoom chat today, and everyone had great videos to share with us! Jennie is off the next two Thursdays for Passover, so we will switch to Tuesdays for now (still at 3!). For our next call, we are challenging each swimmer to create the Stingray logo out of something you have in your house. It could be small and more traditional artwork, or it could be big and crazy, like making a stingray-shaped blanket fort in your living room! (The stingray is at the top of this email, for your artistic inspiration.) We might feature some of them on our Facebook page for the MJCC, too!
Fitter and Faster did a nutrition webinar today, that might be fun for anyone who likes to cook - there's a bit of a cooking show in the middle! It's probably a little dense for the under-12 crowd, though.
They have a number of new webinars added for the end of this week and next week. I think the video one on Friday is likely to be a particularly good one, as they say they will be showing video of both correct and incorrect, which is very helpful to learning. And of course, it's always fun to try some new dryland!
Our technique tip of the day is some racing strategy for the IM - and the advice about speeding up into your turns applies to ALL races! You can think about these techniques and visualize yourself swimming the 100, 200, or 400 IM using them (and do make sure you visualize yourself winning in the end ;-)). The bonus is that the 400 IM is not NEARLY as tiring in your head as in real life! And remember that there are NO flip turns in the 100 IM, and in the 200 and 400 there are only flip turns when you are going backstroke to backstroke or freestyle to freestyle.
For our virtual swim meet race of the day, watch Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte go head-to-head in the men's 200m IM at the 2016 US Olympic Trials. There's not a lot to be said here other than that you have to feel a little sorry for Ryan Lochte that his swimming years overlapped with Phelps, because he could have been the one sweeping all the gold medals otherwise!
Don't forget our Funny Video Day tomorrow (Thursday) at 3pm on Zoom! Remember videos need to be under 3 minutes (or show a clip under 3 minutes and we can put the link to the full thing in the chat) and must be G-rated.
Fitter and Faster did a webinar on butterfly today, which is available to rewatch here. We recommend this for all of our Silver and Gold swimmers, especially the butterfliers (*cough*Noah*cough*). It has some excellent tips on both the stroke and racing strategies for the various distances.
Sticking with butterfly, today's technique tip is all about butterfly breathing. All of our swimmers in every group have at least started to learn butterfly, and breathing too late is one of the most common faults we see. This video has some great explanations and footage of why we breath when we do in butterfly.
Finally, we have our virtual swim meet race of the day: the women's 100m fly at the London Olympics. Here is another example of the turn and subsequent underwater making all the difference to the winner. And despite a fairly poor finish (almost gliding in on a half stroke), she still breaks the world record.
One of our families pointed me in the direction of SwimOutlet's Instagram account, where they are doing a live dryland workout each morning this week at 10 am! Don't worry if you missed the first couple - they are also posted for you to check out on your own schedule.
Today's webinar about breaststroke is now posted for those who missed it. This one is great for any of our swimmers who have the fundamentals of breaststroke down and are really looking to improve it. Note that this series of stroke technique webinars is done with the fact that swimmers are out of the water in mind - including the Olympians who are presenting them!
For our technique tip today we are sticking with breaststroke - and talking about the glide! Anyone who has ever watched a breaststroke practice or race has heard the coaches yelling, "GLIDE!" Breaststroke has a lot of drag built in, but the glide helps the swimmer minimize that drag after the most powerful part of the stroke. It's kind of like getting a mini-streamline to help out after every stroke!
We're diving back into the history vaults for today's virtual swim meet - the men's 200m breaststroke final from the 1936 Berlin Olympics. There is a lot of world history wrapped up in this video - a little extra to think about for those who may be studying the rise of the Third Reich and World War II in school - but also swimming history on display. At this point there was no rule that the arms had to stay in the water for breaststroke, nor that they had to stay above the hips. (Butterfly would not become a distinct stroke until 1952.) Breaststrokers were still mostly swimming with their heads out of the water and facing forward at this time, as well - which any of our swimmers can tell you will earn you admonishment from your coach today, and the time recorded here points out why. In 1936, 2:41.5 was an Olympic record; today it would not even qualify a swimmer for Senior Sectionals.
(And for our swimmers who think the coaches are mean when we make everyone take off their goggles - notice what no one is wearing in this Olympic race! In fact, goggles were not allowed in the Olympics until 1976.)
We have a quick (sad) swim meet update to say that both meets we were looking at in May - THills the first weekend and Hood River the second weekend) - have been cancelled. At this point we are looking at the summer schedule with an eye towards what makes sense to aim for depending on when we are back in the water. For those keeping track of the plan versions...sorry, we've lost track of what letter this one is - but rest assured we are still planning!
Don't forget our Zoom call this Thursday at 3 pm - come with a link to your favorite funny video! (Parents, please help us ensure G-rated appropriateness. :-))
I watched part of a webinar today on streamlines and underwaters that would be of interest to Silver, Gold, and older Bronze swimmers. The only thing we would disagree with is wearing noseclips for practice/races - this should only be an option for swimmers who are already proficient and are always blowing "nose bubbles" when not breathing in! (In other words, when you are an Olympian...you, too, can consider a nose clip.)
Keeping with the streamline theme, we'll just make that today's technique tip - and here's a great video on streamlines that will especially entertain our younger crowd (who might not get as much from the above webinar). You can practice streamlines out of the water, too - see how many times you can walk around your house holding a streamline position!
Today's virtual swim meet entry is a butterfly throwback - the men's 220 yard butterfly at the AAU national championships. (The AAU was basically the national governing body for all the Olympic sports until 1978, so this would be equivalent to USA Swimming nationals today.) The longer events were finished on partial laps at this time in order to make the yards basically the same as their meter equivalents, so since 200 meters is 218.7 yards, the race was 220 in a yard pool. Check out the finish - and pity the timers!
For those who missed the sprint freestyle webinar this morning, you can watch it here. I would say it is most suited for our more advanced Silver and Gold swimmers; it will probably get a little boring for the younger ones!
Fitter and Faster has free webinars up every day next week, and everyone should definitely check them out. I don't know how long they are going to keep having them for free when they have been so popular, so it's a good idea to get the most out of it while it's an option. I've enjoyed the ones I've listened to so far!
We have a dryland challenge from a master's team in California - a soup can IM! For Bronze and smaller Silver swimmers, try this with something a little lighter, like apples or oranges. For Junior Rays, try it without weight. Do pay attention to correct technique, as demonstrated in the video, and stop if it hurts: you can get hurt doing strokes incorrectly on land, too. Try doing this challenge every couple of days and see how your strength improves over time!
Our swim technique tip of the day is about the freestyle catch and pull. Again, this is a nice one because you can follow along on land. Even the part with the Vasa Trainer (which I'm sure no one has at home!) you can just do on a bench without the resistance.
Our virtual swim meet entry today is the men's 50 yard freestyle finals at the 2018 NCAA championships. We'll just go ahead with spoilers in this one and tell you to watch Caeleb Dressel in lane 4 swim the fastest 50 free in history, going an incredible 17.63 seconds. To put that in perspective, Dressel is the first person to break 18 seconds, and he did it twice that day - first leading off the 200 free relay and again in this race.
We had an awesome Zoom call today and all got some craziness out to help combat the cabin fever. It was great to see so many swimmers (we really do miss seeing everyone every day!), even though only Eliza and Coach Jennie were brave enough to perform in front of the group. We are going to do another call next week at the same time (so April 2 at 3 pm), and this time each person is going to share their favorite funny (appropriate - AKA, G-rated) video. (Parents of pre-teens/teens - we appreciate your help in making sure selections are appropriate for all ages. ;-)) We'll have to cap videos at 2-3 minutes (so that the call doesn't go one for days!), but if it's longer, a clip can be played and the link posted in the chat so others can save it and watch later. We're looking at these get-togethers as a time to chat with teammates and blow off some virtual steam - kind of like a free day, but with a little theme and less splashing!
If you're looking for a workout and didn't get a chance to tune in earlier today, here's a link to a webinar recording of dryland for 9-12 year-olds. I (Jennie) didn't get a chance to tune into this one, but these folks put out good, trustworthy content that we don't hesitate to recommend.
Our swim technique of that day is back to breaststroke, and we are talking about the kick. Illegal breaststroke kicks (usually scissor kicks) are VERY common in younger swimmers, and we spend a lot of time working on getting them right! Here are some drills swimmers can do on land to help work on a correct breaststroke kick - and here is a video showing what it should look like in the water.
Our virtual swim meet race today is the women's 100m butterfly from the 2019 FINA World Championships. Again, the lanes to watch are 4 & 5 - and the announcer does a fine job of explaining what is extra exciting about this race. If you watch the turn, especially the slow-mo version later in the clip, you'll see that really Maggie MacNeil moves herself into contention with her underwater off that turn.
Remember that tomorrow (Thursday) at 3pm is our Stingrays Music Challenge. Coach Jennie is ready to wow you on the tin whistle, so tune in and show us your skills, too - just go here at 3 pm to join in!
Yesterday's webinar, Dealing with Adversity, is up for viewing. It features an Olympian and a Paralympian talking about the challenges they have faced in the sport and how they have worked to overcome them both physically and mentally. This one might not be as engaging for the younger swimmers, because it's mostly lecture-style, so might push attention spans - but it's a good listen for those 12 or so and over!
Our technique tip of the day is all about freestyle breathing - and especially breathing low to the water. This video is good because it demonstrates both the right way and the wrong way, so swimmers can see the difference. And everyone will recognize the refrain of "one-goggle breathing!"
Our virtual swim meet race of the day is a modern classic - the men's 100m butterfly finals in Beijing. The race starts at about 2:55, with Micheal Phelps in lane 5 and Milorad Čavić of Serbia in lane 4. If you keep watching long enough to see the slow-mo replay of the finish, you will see the silver medalist starting to pick up his head just before he touches the wall - and in a race this close, that absolutely cost him the gold medal. It's pretty certain that just after this his coach fell onto the deck in a faint, just like Coach John after someone forgets to do a two-hand touch!
We hope everyone is practicing their Country Roads performances in preparation for our virtual get-together on Thursday at 3pm (here's the link to go to when the time comes). Musical talent is not required - if you don't play an instrument or sing, there are other ways to perform. Maybe you could show us an illustrated version, or perform in mime - the possibilities are endless!
Today's technique tip is all about the hip and shoulder roll in backstroke. Do note that because this video is pretty much all slow motion, it makes the kick look bigger and slower than we would want it to be, so don't spend any time studying that part! It wouldn't hurt to notice the hand and arm position in the pull in these slow-mo sections, though - you can expect that will come up again on another day...
For today's virtual swim meet, following the backstroke theme, we'll watch the women's 100m backstroke from the London Olympics. Missy Franklin was 17 at the time (one of only two teenagers in the final - China's Fu Yuanhui was 16), had swum the semi-finals for the 200 free less than 15 minutes before this race, and along with all the other competitors really demonstrates the necessity to drive for the wall at the finish, because tenths and hundredths count!
We hope everyone is getting some exercise and some time outside (even if it's just in your backyard or sitting on your front stoop). For a little extra stress relief, we suggest screaming like some goats screaming like humans.
The dryland webinar that we mentioned last week is now available to be watched on-demand. The presenter had some good advice both physically and mentally as we approach the weeks ahead, and had some new dryland exercises and workouts to try, with demonstrations so you can be sure you are doing the exercises correctly!
The same folks are also doing two workouts this week: one at 11am on Thursday for swimmers ages 9-12 and one at 9am on Friday for swimmers 13 & over. Click on the links to register, and get a chance to learn some new things and get a workout, too!
Our swimming technique of the day works on the chest press in butterfly. (Our younger swimmers hear this from us as "fingertips forward and lean over.") This video is great as it also has some ways you can work on the technique on land (though you might have to improvise equipment at home!).
Our virtual swim meet video of the day is a throwback to another era: the women's 4x100 free relay from the 1976 Montreal Olympics. (US in lane 3, East Germany in lane 4 - the start is at about 5:15.) The East German team dominated the Games that year in swimming, setting eight world records as they won all but one of the individual events. Making the relay finish even more satisfying for the US women, the East German coaches would confirm fifteen years later what many had suspected: that they had used a systematic doping program with anabolic steroids for many years. Also of note, while this 3:44.82 was a world record time in 1976 (shaving four seconds off the previous record), the world record for this race today is held by Australia, with a blistering 3:30.05.
We have a little extra today: Fitter and Faster Swim Camps is offering some free webinars with Olympians on various topics over the week. Jennie did one today on dryland practice which was pretty good, and they said would eventually be available on their website - we'll send a link once they have it available. They say they are for ages 12 and up, but 9-11 year-olds who are more serious swimmers would also benefit (and since they're free, you can always just drop out if it isn't engaging your swimmer!). On Tuesday the 24th at 11 am (our time) will be "Dealing With Adversity" and on Friday the 27th also at 11 am will be "Breaking Down Sprint Freestyle." (Links will take you to the registration pages.)
Because we miss seeing everyone so much, we are also hosting our own live virtual get-together via Zoom next Thursday. Since we can't all swim together, we've taken our inspiration from the cool-down serenades of our Silver team, and we'll have a talent show to see how many different ways we can all play/sing/otherwise perform Lane 5's favorite tune, "Take Me Home, Country Roads." (Tip: sheet music for at least the first verse and chorus is readily available in a variety of keys via Google image search!) To tune in to the Stingrays Music Challenge, head over to our Zoom link at 3pm on Thursday, March 26. Joining by video is encouraged! Coach Jennie is practicing hard on the tin whistle...
Our technique video of the day is on the breaststroke pulldown (or pullout, depending on who you are talking to!). Notice the excellent streamline position demonstrated, and how the swimmer's chin stays tucked the entire time. We begin teaching this in Bronze as one underwater dolphin kick and one underwater breaststroke off each wall, and then refine it in Silver to what you see in the video. This is the only dolphin kick and the only pull where the hands extend past the waist that are allowed in breaststroke - since both of those things make a swimmer faster, it's important to use them this one time they are allowed!
Continuing the breaststroke pulldown theme, our virtual swim meet race today is the men's 100m breaststroke final from the Athen's Olympics (race starts at about 2:55). Kosuke Kitajima in lane 4 (closest to the screen when they show the underwater shots) is the one to watch. This race is widely considered to represent the first time the pulldown as we do it today was demonstrated in international competition. At the time (2004) the dolphin kick was still not legal in breaststroke, but the officials did not see it (and there was no instant replay allowed for officiating decisions), so Kitajima was not disqualified. The rule was changed in 2005 to allow the single dolphin kick.
Today we hunted down some basic breaststroke tips, from the home of breaststroke, the UK. Olympic gold medalist Duncan Goodhew shows us how it's done! Breaststroke is probably the most technically complicated stroke, and the one that having swimmers watch (whether on video or in person) can really make a big difference. Be forewarned, though, if you jump down the breaststroke rabbit hole online, that there are almost as many different variations of breaststroke as there are top swimmers, so at times you may see advice or form that is different from what we teach in practice. Our goal is to get everyone swimming a safe, efficient, technically correct stroke, which gives us something that can be built upon or tweaked as swimmers mature, if need be. It's definitely safe to say that breaststroke is also the most technically challenging to coach, too!
For today's virtual swim meet, we have a bit of a longer race. We were going to keep our featured races down to 200s and less for the sake of our younger swimmers' attention spans, but who can resist Katie Ledecky swimming the 800m free in Rio? She's in lane 4, swimming against her own previous world record time, and it's safe to say that you can't miss her (the race starts around 4:20). While we can't say this about all world-class swimmers - some of them seem to get by more on just being total freaks of nature (*cough*Michael Phelps*cough*) rather than on what we would think of as great technique - Katie has very nice form as a distance freestyler, so is definitely someone our swimmers should strive to emulate. (Just remember that for races under 400m, you have to kick a LOT more!)
While we are not practicing, we will be trying to send out daily updates with a stroke technique video and an exciting race to watch each weekday. John is also working on putting together a couple of dryland workouts that everyone can do at home to help keep in shape (and don't forget that running, walking, or cycling are all excellent activities that can be done without going to crowded or indoor spaces!).
John's first workout can be found here!
Today's stroke technique tip is something we've been talking about on Gold recently - freestyle hand entry! Here's a quick video that shows how and where our hands should be entering the water on each freestyle stroke in order to maximize efficiency and minimize injury.
And our virtual swim meet video today is pretty much the first thing most of us think of when we think of the greatest relay of all time - the men's 4x100 free relay finals from the Beijing Olympics. Keep an eye on lanes 4 (US) and 5 (France)!
Are your beginning swimmers feeling trapped at home without access to a pool for lessons? Our awesome Assistant Aquatics Manager, Grace, has come up with five ways to practice swim skills in the bath!
Based on your child's age and skills in the water, choose an activity that suits your child. Always provide direct supervision during any activities in and around water.
1.) Pour a bubblebath and place small toys on the bottom. Encourage your child to put their face under water (with goggles!) to find them all! More bubbles make this more challenging for school age children.
2.) Place floating toys on the surface of the water. Encourage your child to blow air as though they are “blowing out candles” to get their toys to move across the water. When they have mastered this, have them “blow out candles” with their mouth underwater, and ask them to see how big of bubbles they can make!
3.) For very young children, acclimate them to water by playing a game of Water Hokey Pokey. Encourage them to put their chin, ears, mouth, and back of their head in the water. Ex: “We put our right hand in, we take our right hand out...”
4.) Practice blowing bubbles underwater. Start out with teaching your child how to “blow out candles”, then when they are able to breath out through their mouth, have them try this with their nose. To do nose bubbles, encourage your child to hum and breathe out as they put their nose underwater. If they want a challenge, count how many seconds they can make bubbles!
5.) Practice floats in the bath by filling the water as high as you are able to. Tell your child to look up at the ceiling and keep their ears in the water. Encourage them to push their belly up so that it is level with the top of the water.
While our community is practicing social distancing and spending more time at home, we want to share some water safety tips and information, courtesy of Jennie Condon, our amazing Aquatics Program Manager + Head Swim Coach.
Drowning is the leading cause of death for children under four, and many of these deaths occur in the home. A small child can drown in as little as two inches of water.
• Watch kids when they are in or around water, without distractions.
• Never leave an infant or toddler unattended in the bath.
• Store containers of any kind so that they will not retain water, and empty all containers and kiddie pools after use.
• Keep doors to bathrooms and laundry rooms closed, and use child locks on toilet lids.
• If your home has a creek, pond, or water feature, consider building a fence to restrict access. Tell children that they are never to swim without an adult.
• Know what to do in an emergency. Knowing CPR may help you save a life.
(Sources: Safekids.org; Kidshealth.org)
We're on week two of staying at home here in Oregon, and we know that for many of you that includes access to our natural bodies of water, whether in the "backyard" or within walking distance from your home. Our Aquatics Morning Lead, Micah, has some tips for safe enjoyment of our creeks, rivers, ponds, and lakes - while also maintaining a 6-foot social distance to those not in your household, of course!
- Always have someone designated to have their eyes on children whenever they are near water.
- Make sure your children know expectations and rules before you go.
- Make sure children have life jackets on whenever they are near water – but remember that lifejackets are not a substitute for proper supervision.
- Lifejackets should always have ALL straps, zippers, and ties fastened and tightened.
- Make sure your lifejacket fits: on land, have someone pull up on the shoulders of the lifejacket. If the shoulders can be pulled above the ears (or the lifejacket comes off!) it is either too big or not tight enough. A too-big lifejacket can slip off or keep the wearer from moving to safety.
- If someone falls in, remember what we teach in swim lessons: reach or throw, don’t go!
- Your safety is the top priority, and if you go in for someone, there may be two people in trouble and no one to call for help.
- People who are panicked will grab on to anything to stay at the surface, and that includes other people!
- If you see someone in trouble, reach with a stick, a paddle, or anything long that the person can grab. If the person is too far away to reach, throw something that floats out to them, preferably something that you can pull back to safety.
- Finally, be aware that water levels and flows can change dramatically week to week, especially at this time of year; don't let familiarity lead to complacency. We want to see you all back once we are able to reopen!
The content of the Mittleman Jewish Community Center's video is for entertainment only. JCC is not a medical organization and its instructors or staff cannot provide medical advice or diagnosis. Physical exercise in all forms, even without equipment, is a strenuous physical activity. As such, you should consult your physician or other health care professional before starting this fitness program or any other fitness program to determine if it is right for you. If you are predisposed to a medical condition that may be worsened by physical exercise, please do not start this fitness program. Do not start this fitness program if your physician or health care provider advises against it. If you experience faintness, dizziness, pain or shortness of breath at any time while exercising you should stop immediately.
If you think you are having a medical or health emergency, call your health care professional, or 911, immediately.