2016 SwimBC Provincial Team Mini-Camps

The members SwimBC's Youth/Junior program were invited to attend a series of four stroke technique mini-camps over the course of a number of days early this year. While not every swimmer could attend every session, the size of the groups, along with their coaches, made for an excellent learning environment.

Mini-camp #1: Breastroke
HPC-Vancouver Coach and breastroke coaching legend, Jozsef Nagy, came in to work with our breastrokers. One by one, Coach Nagy sat down with each of them along with their coach, and reviewed underwater video.  A good summary of most of the things he pointed out to the swimmers can be found in this document (compiled from a series of articles he did for SwimmingWorldMagazine.com a few years ago).

Mini-camp #2: Freestyle / Starts
We were pleased to be able to bring in Canada's best-ever sprint freestyler, Brent Hayden, to assist with our swimmers with freestyle and starts.  Brent has assisted us many times in the past with our Regional Age Group and Prospects camps, and he again shared many of the insights he gained from his career, particularly in how he was able to take his start from inconsistent-and-most-often-not-good, to being first at the 20m mark in the M100FR at London2012.

Again, we went through frame-by-frame detail of stroke mechanics, and did likewise with starts using Dr. Allan Wrigley's start checklist

Swimmers were given time with their coach to work on identified errors, which was then followed by another underwater review.

Mini-camp #3: Butterfly
While the first two camps took place in the Lower Mainland, we went to Victoria for the other two. HPC-Victoria Head Coach, Ryan Mallette, took the lead with these camps, and while the first two camps focused a lot on video analysis, Ryan's big message was on Fundamentals Mastery:  Doing the basics uncompromisingly well, all the time, every time.

Therefore, our butterfly mini-camp focused primarily on body position and kicking.

Dr, Allan Wrigley (Swimming Canada's IST Director) was on-hand as well to lay out some of the fundamental ideas with regards to those two parameters.  One of the key concepts (which is applicable to all strokes) was minimizing the "body shadow" - which is basically the total frontal area exposed to the direction of travel through the water. Pay particular attention to the "body shadow" at hand entry.

Small body shadow - toes poke out just barely below body line

"Thick" body shadow - entire lower leg extends below body line

Similar issue during underwater kick - entire lower leg exposed outside of body shadow.

Dr. Wrigley and Coach Mallette also made the point about maintaining the tempo of the underwater kick, using that to make a seamless transition from the underwater kick into the stroke.  Exemplified very well here by Stefan Hirniak.

Mini-camp #4:  Backstroke
Our final mini-camp focused on backstroke, with Coach Mallette and Dr. Wrigley again pointing to the importance of the basics of the stroke: body position, body alignment, kick mechanics, pull mechanics.

Dr. Wrigley:

  • Many backstrokers, when kicking, try to drive the ankles from the knees; instead, use the hips to drive the ankles, removing the knee joint from the equation as much as possible.
  • Kick speed has little relation to power of the kick; far more correlation to minimizing body resistance (narrow body shadow, straight body).
  • The depth of the kick should be no more than 50% deeper than the "body shadow".
  • Common mistake swimmers make is trying to exert force with the pull when arm is in the position shown above.
  • Instead, swimmers should use that time to establish catch, then exert power here:
  • Finish pull with fingers pointing towards feet, hand having followed a straight and shallow pull line