Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Under Water Works

Since watching some of the best in the business on Saturday and Sunday @ Canada Cup, I returned to practice on Monday night feeling deflated. HHBF in its current state is the deepest and fastest team in our club's history. We've got some very fast and fit athletes, but we get blown away on the technical aspects of races. In both Toronto and Oakville, we got killed off of starts and walls (I can't think of more than 3 races where an HHBF swimmer caught up on a turn) and its not because we can't do those things well, its because we're not trying hard enough to do those crucially important things well.

I spent a great deal of last night's Elite/Platinum workout making sure that everyone understood the importance of deep water. Basically, my argument went like this:

- We push off the walls with our feet too high. As a result, bouyancy pulls us to the surface before we're able to actually kick effectivly. In cases where we're trying to kick, we're too close to the surface and our kick creates too much turbulence at the surface. The turbulence slows us down. We need to push off deeper (below the hash mark of the "t") and kick deeper in order to be effective.

- The same principle counts for dives, BK starts and turns. If you're too close to the surface, you're creating too much turbulence and its slowing you down. You'll also float to the top before you're able to maximize the force from your dive or your turn.

Case in point: Kyle Haas' Bk Start.

Kyle has a very powerful start and goes 58.38 for 100BK which makes him the second fastest 15 year old in the country in that event. Clearly he can swim fast, but we knew he was getting blown away on his walls. Take a look at the video below which tells the tale of why he is pretty inefficient on his start and wall:

Now take a look at how it should be done. Pay particular attention to the surface of the water with the underwater camera shots: is there any turbulence as a result of the kicks? It has a lot to do with how deep they are kicking.

I worked individually with the girls and boys from each of the Platinum and Elite groups last night really hammering this principle. We did lots of drills and worked on the depth of pushing off, kick (both from a push and off a turn) and even finishing well. We started slow and easy, then gradually turned up the intensity, forcing these athletes to perform the task under stress. As a result, we had one of the best practices this season and Platinum did very well this morning as well. These are the types of skills that our athletes have to master going into Central Regions, Eastern Canadian Championships, Provincials and Halton Cup. I'm pretty happy intensly focusing on these things going into the meet because I feel that if our athletes can be as efficient as possible, all of their fitness and speed will result in fantastic races.