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  #1  
Old 08-07-2011
Richardsk Richardsk is offline
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Default Not quite flying

Further progress has been made towards swimming a legal length of butterfly on a regular basis and eventually swimming:
a) a long course 50m fly
b) a short course 100m
c) a long course 100m
d) a short course 200 IM
e) a long course 200 IM
f) a short course 200m fly
g) a long course 200m fly
h a long course 400 IM ( maybe even a short course one too, but they are rare beasts).

I am prepared for this program to take a couple of years if necessary.

Today I swam a whole lot of 25m lengths of something closely approximating real butterfly, with extra kicks at both ends of the stroke, and finished with two repeats of 50m. Most of the time my arms came out quite nicely. They don't go back in as nicely yet, but I expect that will come.

I also did some repeats of alternating one-arm and two-arm with something more like a proper rhythm, with two kicks per cycle, e.g. four right, four left, two both, three left three right, one both.

Some of the two-arm strokes felt quite good, and a few of the second two-arm strokes were nearly as good as the first.
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  #2  
Old 08-20-2011
Suddethb Suddethb is offline
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I'm not sure how you are defining "real butterfly." Does that mean a stroke legal in Masters competition, one that mimics the champions, one that is sustainable for distance, or one that looks so aggressive it frightens the children out of the pool and soaks the ceiling?

I swim my fly in two modes, relaxed for distance (1-3 miles at about 66 seconds per lap), or pumping extra hard for speed (can barely reach 200 yd at about 38 sec per 50 yd lap.) In both, my stroke has one "kick" that lifts my body over my hands at the top (a V or arching over for lift, rather than a crunch position), and another short flick kick on the way down and forward. Both are legal and "real."

What do you do that would be considered "unreal?"
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  #3  
Old 08-20-2011
Richardsk Richardsk is offline
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The main thing I do that gets me disqualified is not recovering the arms over the water properly. I'm told I sag to one side and one arm comes out OK but the other drags in the water. I have now discovered that if I slow the whole thing down and wait until my arms are back at my hips I can recover them quite cleanly by ducking my head down so that my hips come up, but I realise that this isn't the "correct timing". The question is: is it legal? Even if it is, it is so slow that it is hardly worth entering even a 25m race, which one occasionally finds on the program.

I have read many books on the subject, and am amused to discover that in a publication by the ASA (Amateur Swimming Association) dating from the late 'sixties and early 'seventies called The Teaching of Swimming, the undulation is described as being a consequence of the arm and leg action:

"The body position should be maintained as near to the horizontal as possible. There is, however, some undulation caused by the reaction to the arm and leg movements and the raising of the head clear of the water to breathe."

This is, of course, not the current view, but presumably some quite skilled butterfliers learned to swim it using that approach. The line drawings accompanying the text show a very normal-looking fly - in fact they are probably the same drawings that appear in a number of books on swimming from that epoch or more or less exact copies.

The chap I had my lesson from recently is convinced that in order to develop a better undulation I have to lead with my head, and it is certainly possible to see highly skilled elite swimmers who appear to lead with the head. However it is also possible to see elite swimmers who hardly move their heads at all.

My prospects of swimming anything like any elite swimmer as as close to nil as they can get, so I would settle for excessive undulation and excessive head movement if it got me through a 50m race without disqualification.

The most promising line of attack at the moment seems to be a drill in which one cruises along undulating and kicking and then makes a rapid pull and flicks the arms out of the water behind the hips, without trying to bring them forward at all. On one of my attempt to do this I actually accidentally recovered them and in the process performed perhaps the best single stroke I have ever made. If I can reproduce this a few more times I think it may turn out to be real butterfly and legal to boot.

How long can I keep it up for, though? We shall see.
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  #4  
Old 08-21-2011
Suddethb Suddethb is offline
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I'll bet if you post a video link, you'll have several of the masters here giving you much better advice than I am able to give.
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  #5  
Old 08-21-2011
Richardsk Richardsk is offline
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Unfortunately the pool I normally swim at does not permit video. Perhaps I can get some video shot at a club session. Meanwhile I'll continue with head-lead body dolphin, Biondi drill, one-arm fly and so on. I've found a site on youtube that has a number of interesting drills:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5mk1..._order&list=UL

I'm not sure what this slo-mo drill is meant to teach but it looks like something I could do all right.

It's a bit reminiscent of Terry's water angels.

I also wonder why you aren't meant to undulate while doing it. Most of the other drills are familiar in one form or another.
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  #6  
Old 08-21-2011
terry terry is offline
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I no longer do or teach body dolphins. I will release an ibook with embedded video (and later a DVD) of what I call Butterfly for Boomers shortly. I stopped teaching body dolphin because I saw too many well-intentioned TI students who'd lost sight of the main idea - to move forward. Too much of their energy was going into up-and-down motions, leading to excessive diving-and-climbing. Or just ineffectual body-shaking.
In 2005 I watched a Michael Phelps DVD frame-by-frame. I noticed that his stroke had an elegant simplicity. At regular speed, you could recognize it as markedly more relaxed and flowing than any rival's, but it was difficult to discern the subtle details that made it so. By studying what happened at intervals of perhaps .05 second I noticed things that had previously escaped my attention. The details that struck me as most significant were:
1. Stable head. He breathed every stroke, yet his head never changed attitude (i.e. chin never tipped down, nor lifted up.)
Significance: The human head represents about 8% of total body mass but is a long way from center of mass, like a bowling ball on a broomstick. When it goes up and down -- particularly if the arms spend much time behind the shoulders (and their potential to dampen up/down motions is lost) -- precious body momentum is diverted vertically, rather than forward. Because Phelp's head is so stationary it always contributes to forward motion.
2. His body remains essentially horizontal - sinks and rises in balance. Like his head, his body changes attitude very little, meaning he's traveling forward in every phase of the stroke. No climbing, nor diving.
Significance: No diversion of energy or momentum. And he travels a shorter distance in each stroke cycle than rivals. They may travel, say, 201m, while he only travels 200m. Giving up even a single meter to Phelps is like bringing a knife to a gun fight.
3. He stays streamlined and 'tall,' while sinking after he lands. As I noted above, he's always traveling forward. He doesn't dive back in the water, he simply falls into it after a breath (albeit cleanly and gently). Gravity takes care of that; were he to dive down that would be adding suspenders to belt.
Significance: A long, streamlined body travels farther, faster - particularly while underwater, avoiding surface tension.
4. He is still streamlined and tall as he rises again. #3 and #4 together take only a nanosecond but it becomes evident watching at .05 sec intervals.
Significance: Not only is he staying in a streamlined position a tiny moment longer than rivals-and thus traveling farther faster as they lose a bit of momentum. He's also letting the force of buoyancy return him to the surface while rivals use muscular forces to do so. Critical energy savings that help explain why he so effortlessly pulls away on the last 50m.

So I modeled my own stroke on those observations and, within little more than a week was able to swim the first 200 Fly of my life, following 40 years of staggering through the final 25 of any attempt to do a 100. Certainly not fast (like Phelps, I stayed streamlined while sinking and rising, but was both traveling forward, and sinking/rising at dramatically slower speeds) but thrilling nonetheless. Since then butterfly has become my favorite stroke (yes, even more than freestyle), and four months ago I swam a lifetime best 200 Fly, not only at age 60, but also at a time when lingering symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis had slowed my 200 Free by 9 seconds from where it was five years ago when I swam my previous record for 200 Fly.

Richard, two quick suggestions until the ibook comes out:
1) Don't put time or energy into body dolphins. Rather concentrate on moving forward with the least diversion of either into up/down motions.
2) Don't let hands linger at hips. Indeed don't even let them get anywhere near your hips. Use hands only to help your head emerge for a breath. Do that as briefly and gently as you can. Don't even think of it as a stroke. Like in freestyle, hands should be patient and used to Hold, not Pull. As soon as you feel your head/chest have come forward to where your hands are, get them forward again.

Please let us know whether these help.
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Last edited by terry : 08-21-2011 at 11:45 AM.
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  #7  
Old 08-21-2011
Richardsk Richardsk is offline
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Don't let hands linger at hips. Indeed don't even let them get anywhere near your hips. Use hands only to help your head emerge for a breath. Do that as briefly and gently as you can. Don't even think of it as a stroke. Like in freestyle, hands should be patient and used to Hold, not Pull. As soon as you feel your head/chest have come forward to where your hands are, get them forward again.

I have seen swimmers in masters meets who seem to exit their hands approximately on a line with the shoulders, or very slightly behind, but so far I haven't been successful in doing this.

If I were successful in doing this, wouldn't I be losing quite a bit of propulsion? I have watched video of Phelps and his hands actually touch under his body, approximately at the navel, after which they slice out just outside his hips. In combination with his amazing kick, this seems to shoot him out of the water like a missile.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jd67PMryIT0

Phelps is something else entirely.

I'll experiment with these ideas and report back in due course.
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  #8  
Old 08-24-2011
Richardsk Richardsk is offline
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I have to report that I have now found my copy of the four strokes DVD, which gladdens my heart, even though I realise it is not quite up to date with current thinking and I can now compare and contrast it with the Betterfly DVD and other online material at my disposal while waiting for the new e-book or vook.

Tried some sculling dolphins today as in the betterfly DVD and they felt good. Success at getting the arms out of the water is still somewhat sporadic, though. Maybe my arms are just too puny for my not very hydrodynamic frame, although somehow I doubt that that is the real reason. Finding the right rhythm seems a more promising route.
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  #9  
Old 08-26-2011
AlMalika AlMalika is offline
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Hi Richardsk,

don't give up practicing. One day it will work. It simply takes time. I also gave up Body Dolphin drills because the only thing I was doing was going up and down instead of moving forward. That made me painfully slow - what I wanted to say is that it took an eternity to reach the other side of the pool.

I think you are on the right track.

Petra
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  #10  
Old 08-26-2011
Richardsk Richardsk is offline
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Thanks for the encouragement, Petra. I don't plan to give up - in fact I plan to redouble my efforts. The occasional flashes when the arms just flick effortlessly out of the water give me reason to think that I will crack it in the end.

I can now swim my slow motion pseudo butterfly relatively easily, and think that if I can get it going more smoothly I may be able to gradually speed it up and convert it into something more like the real thing.

It is to a completely different rhythm from that of my one-arm fly or my occasional flashes of what seem like near perfect strokes. One of these days I hope to get two of these "near-perfect" strokes in a row.
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