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Chlorine Chronicle (Archive)

NMSC Mar/97 Newsletter


(contributed by Cathy Merritt)

Today's References
[1]. Roque Santos, "Catch the "Wave"" Part II, SWIM Magazine, Jan./Feb. '97, pp. 37-38.
[2]. Martha Capwell (editor), in "Healthy Swimmer", Fitness Swimmer, Winter 1997, p. 12.
[3]. Ed Nessel, "Fin Nite Workout", SWIM Magazine, Jan./Feb. '97, inserted after page 36.

Our first issue of SWIM Magazine finally arrived (after a couple of false starts -if anyone wants to read Junior Swimmer, I have a couple of copies that I don't want). The current issue of SWIM contains an article on kicking drills for the "Wave Breaststroke". It is the second of two articles on this stroke; it would probably make more sense after reading the first in the Nov./Dec. issue. Nevertheless, I am excerpting some of these drills which might be of general use in breaststroke.

Breaststroke Drills

Because of its in-the-water arm recovery and the pattern of the kick, breaststroke has a lot of built-in resistance. To swim the stroke well, resistance must be minimized.

A breaststroker's goal should be to increase average speed... To accomplish this. most breaststrokers kick harder,... Often, however, [ to kick harder, the swimmer brings the knees forward more, creating more resistance on the recovery]. Thus, more effort is used to accomplish the same average speed.

The Hungarian wave breastroker does not kick harder, but smarter... more efficiently. A faster kick is achieved by reducing resistance...

Drill: Frog Kick Drill

The frog kick drill helps correct two common kicking problems: "half breaststroke kicks" and "parachute feet". This drill is performed in the water on the stomach, with the back of the hands placed on the butt at all times.

On the recovery of the breaststroke kick, the feet must go all the way to the butt before the kick begins. If the heels of the feet do not touch the fingers in this drill, then the breaststroker is not getting the most out of each kick. The kick should start as close to the butt as possible. If the knees only end up bending to 90 degrees. then the breaststroker is only kicking half kicks. If the feet only move half way to the butt, then the kick will not be as long or as strong as it should be....

This drill also helps teach the feet to return straight to the butt. If the feet do not go straight up to the butt, then they slide out and up on the recovery. This will slow the breaststroker down...The feet are like two big parachutes when they do not recover behind the protection of the upper legs and butt.

To keep the feet from spreading apart too much on the recovery to the butt and fingers, pretend that the ankles are tied together on the recovery. When the heels touch the fingers, the feet may move apart and the kick starts.

Secondly, out of the water, practice grabbing the ankle and pulling the heel of the foot to touch the butt. The easier it is to do this out of the water, the easier it should be in the water. Stretching increases flexibility. Also, try arching the back more or throwing the hips forward to reach the feet to the butt.

Drill: Frog Kick on the Back

This drill helps solve two problems which create resistance: 1) The knees going too far apart during the kick and, 2) the knees coming up too far underneath the body.

Perform this drill like the frog kick drill, but on the back instead of the stomach. The knees remain at shoulder width throughout the kick. In this position - in line with the outside of the body - the knees and thighs will not cause resistance. More importantly, if the knees are too far apart as the feet kick, then the force of the kick will be directed out, to the sides and back. When the knees are held at shoulder width, the force of the kick is directed straight back.

To help keep the knees closer together, place a pull buoy between the legs while kicking breaststroke. Also, try to pretend that the knees are tied together throughout the entire kick.

...keep the body flat from the chest, stomach, hips and thighs when the feet recover before the kick begins. Bringing the knees up underneath the body is like putting on the breaks....While lying on the back in this drill, keep the surface of the water level with your chest, stomach, hips and thighs at all times. If the butt sinks, or if the knees come out of the water, the breaststroker slows down.

The breaststroker can look to see if the knees remain near shoulder width. Also, the breaststroker can see if the knees raise out of the water and if the body remains level from shoulder to knees. This is the perfect breaststroke kicking drill because the swimmer can see and feel for themselves if the kick is done properly.

Tip of the Day: Dolphin Breast Drill (with fins)

My favorite drill is the Dolphin-Breast..., for it gets me to "dive down", hurry-up and streamline. The dolphin kick is quicker than the breast kick, therefore you need to keep the elbows in front and kick with the hands forward, preventing a "dead spot". In addition, the head must be smoothly placed down, looking at the bottom of the pool when in the glide position, with the water going over the top of the head, not hitting you square in the face. This is to cut frontal resistance and maximize the efficiency of the glide. I emphasize smoothness and timing, rather than brute strength, to achieve fast swimming. Many yards swum this way will allow for strengthening of the upper body involved in breaststroke (hands, wrists, forearms, chest), yet will spare the "breaststroke knees" of older swimmers.[2].

Answer to last issue's quiz (what works best for long term weight maintenance?...)


Wanna lose weight? Exercise! It's the only way to keep it off. Even better than diet and exercise. A two-year study at Baylor College of Medicine shows that people who exercise without restricting what they eat (within reason, of course!) maintain their weight. Doctors at Baylor divided 127 overweight people into three groups - a diet and exercise group, a diet-only group and an exercise-only group. The first year, everybody got nutrition instruction from registered dietitians, and everybody lost weight. The first two groups shed the most pounds. But the second year, weight-loss reality kicked in, and the first two groups regained their weight - a common outcome of diets.

But the exercise-only folks maintained their new weights. That's for two reasons, say the researchers: they weren't deprived of their favorite foods, and they learned to enjoy exercise. So stick with the complex carbs, low-fat dairy foods and fruits and vegetables and your weight should stay just fine[3].

Quiz What is a "lightning"?

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