Provincial Coach, Vince Mikuska, and Regional Coach, Mike Flegel, offer a few thoughts on what they witnessed with regards to swimmer stroke technique and general capabilities on display at the recent 2013 SwimBC AA Championships in Surrey.
General Body Positioning
Streamlined body position coming off walls is generally very good. These swimmers have obviously been taught and practiced this well. However, general body alignment while swimming tends to be poor – lots of “loose legs”, mobile hips, and arm actions causing inefficient compensatory body movements.
Freestyle body position is improving due to better head positioning. Arm recovery is still a big issue with most swimmers recovering their hands, not their arms and throwing their hands into the entry position instead of putting their hand in deliberately.
Backstroke still often lacking kick. Swimmers need to be kicking more while they are swimming to create a better balance between arms and legs.
There were a disproportionate number of disqualifications in backstroke for turn infractions – typically for swimmers floating on their front into the turn. Coaches should school their swimmers on how to adjust that arm-pull into the wall if/when they find themselves a little too far from the wall as they flip onto their front.
Breaststroke body position is better. Swimmers are going forward instead of up and down. We need to teach or re-teach breaststroke kick. Swimmers are kicking out and around instead of pushing straight back with their feet. This is part of an old way of thinking that we have to correct ourselves and probably with our Learn to Swim partners.
Swimmers need to get to, and momentarily hold, what we’ve termed the “zero position”.
Butterfly is in disrepair. The 200 event was very poor with many unfilled finals. Swimmers cannot kick well enough to establish good body position and rhythm. The kick needs to be small in amplitude and stiffer. Swimmers need to squeeze their thighs together or their glutes in order to connect with their core. There is too much unnecessary up and down hip movement.
Much of this has to do with lack muscular endurance in core muscles, mostly lower abs and lower back.
Underwater kicking was generally limited to between 1 and 3 kicks, and typically was executed with not nearly enough speed (faster, smaller kicks are necessary). This needs to be a much bigger part of our training at all levels.
Our general impression is that there has been significant technical improvement in the swimmers we saw at this AA Champs compared to what we witnessed even a couple of years ago. While the preceeding may come across as highly critical, it's presented merely to illustrate where there exists the greatest opportunities for technical improvement.
Overall, we were encouraged by what we observed, and left with the strong impression that the technical emphasis we have been promoting at the Regional Camp level is having a positive effect.