Week 2 is in the books and we've already made a ton of progress! Katie Gage came in for her second lesson and focused on rotation, and we had Flaca Guerrero jump in the pool for the first time and begin her work on her head/body position. Flaca wasn't able to get on the Vasa Trainer just yet, as we need to fix a few foundational things first, but we'll get there soon.
What would you say if I told you Katie didn't rotate before her lesson this week. Crazy, right? It's actually a lot more common than you'd think, because rotation can get a bad reputation. The key is to not over-rotate. For a swimmer who uses a relaxed recovery, the sweet spot is to have a 45 degree rotation. This amount of rotation allows the mobility to take a proper full stroke (catch, pull, finish, recovery), as well as a proper breath. Swimmers that use a straight arm recovery can get away with less rotation, but probably no less than 35 degrees. And as you become a better/stronger swimmer you can comfortably alternate between both types of swimming depending on the situation.
In Katie's case her lack of rotation was causing an improper catch position. Because of this improper position she was not able to develop and maintain a paddle with her hand/forearm to propel her through the water. To have a proper catch, and in turn create a strong paddle, you want to start your rotation as soon as you start your catch.
Back to the SwimErg! After focusing on rotation and the proper timing we hopped out of the pool to do some catch position exercises. One of our favorite things about the Vasa Trainer SwimErg is that we can focus on small movements without making you do the entire stroke. This makes it easier for your brain to understand the change you're trying to make and allows you to make changes faster than you would be able to otherwise. It's the same concept we use when we work on something in the pool and have our clients use a snorkel, because it takes the breath out of the equation and allows you to focus on the task at hand that much better.
For Flaca's first lesson we had her get in the pool and see her stroke for the first time. This allows us to see the pros and cons of her stroke and figure out what we need to start working on first. With Flaca, the first things our instructor Dan noticed were her head position, body position, and sinking legs.
By making a small change in Flaca's head position it started to fix her sinking torso and legs, as well as keep her much more streamlined as she moves through the water. Before we put her on the SwimErg it's important to make some foundational changes to her stroke and practice those in the water. Trying to change too many things at once will overload your brain and most likely will result in no change at all. It's very important to us to focus on injury prevention above all else, and making these changes before moving forward will help keep Flaca swimming safely for the rest of her life.
By having Flaca look downward towards the bottom of the pool, as opposed to slightly forward and looking ahead of herself, she's already made huge changes to her body position and sinking legs. Take a look at the picture above! The before shot is on the right and the after shot is on the left. Because this is such an important part of a strong, injury free, and efficient freestyle Dan had Flaca work on this for her entire lesson. Can't wait to put her on the SwimErg next week!