Time for week 3! In case you're just joining us, make sure you go back and read about our first and second lessons in our SwimBox and Vasa Trainer project we're currently working on with Katie Gage and Flaca Guerrero. Unfortunately Katie's daughter was sick this week and she was unable to come in, so we worked solely with Flacca on catch position and the timing of the movements of her catch, pull, and rotation.
At this point in our project I'm sure you've noticed a lot of repetition, and you're right. Our lessons are full of do this, do it again, again, make a correction, do it again, again, and so on. Repetition of small movements helps reinforce the movement as well as gives you more body awareness of how you want to feel in the water. We also drive concepts into the ground to make sure you're keeping proper positioning even when you're tired and frustrated. It can be a hard process, but one that definitely pays off.
One of the biggest things Dan noticed we need to correct with Flaca's stroke is that her wrist was always beating her elbow to the finish of her stroke. When that happens she's losing the power of her catch entirely and her arm becomes drag in the water. To work on this Flaca practiced hinge drill, which is where you float on your stomach with your arms in a superman position, and the only movement you make is in your forearm by beginning your catch. This drill is great to show the amount of power you develop from your catch as well as the position you're looking for when your hand first enters the water to start the catch.
After working in the pool for a bit we moved over to the Vasa Trainer SwimErg (for the first time with Flaca!) to have an in depth look at her catch and pull. Being able to work with clients and actually move them into the proper position is one of our favorite things about the SwimErg. There's nothing else out there that lets us do this while at the same time being able to mimic the resistance of the water. This week Dan worked with her on using her elbow to bring her arm forward and keeping her elbow from dropping.
When your hand enters the water you want to make sure your elbow is the driving force that has moved your arm forward to get to that position. By keeping your elbow up and not letting it drop (which is the natural movement your body wants to make) your hand will be setup to enter the water in proper catch position. This will prevent you from having your hand enter the water, and THEN move it into proper catch position. Swimming is a sport of centimeters, and every tenth of a second counts, so setting this up properly adds up to quite a bit of time that you would have wasted otherwise.
A very important thing to be mindful of when focusing on not letting your elbow drop is that you don't start to make these movements with your shoulder joint. As you move from your catch into your pull and the finish of your stroke make sure your shoulder blade is sliding downward towards your heels. This will ensure you're utilizing your back muscles instead of your shoulder joint, which prevents injury as well as gives you a greater power in the water.