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  #1  
Old 01-24-2011
terry terry is offline
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Default Important New Insights on Freestyle Technique

After reading this, I urge you to read John Eckert's Maho Bay Memoir on the Open Water Swimming conference.

In that chronicle John modestly neglected to mention that, besides improving his swimming, he also helped improve my coaching. John helped me discover two new insights into TI technique that I find as exciting as any insight I've gained in years.

Thurs night, while in line to place our dinner orders at the Dining Pavilion, John said "Can I ask you a couple of questions about technique?" So, after we picked up our dinner trays, I sat with him and we began to talk.

John is an engineer, so while he learned and practice new skills, and felt their effect on his endurance and speed, he applied engineering principles to them. Here are the two aspects of technique I now grasp more fully thanks to John.

1) Controlled Rotation. During the 1990s we taught Swim On Your Side in freestyle. We didn't mean it literally, but many people over-rotated as a result, producing both instability and slower stroke rates.
For the past 10 years we've instead taught Swim Off Your Stomach. The primary benefits we cited for controlling rotation was greater lateral stability and the opportunity to increase stroke rate, without sacrificing stroke length.

John described another benefit of at least equal importance. As he put it, when pushing a child on a playground swing, there's an optimal moment in the swing when it takes hardly any push to keep the momentum going. The same applies to the rhythm of weight shifts. Wait a moment too long to reverse direction and it takes more effort. Shift at just the right moment (less, rather than more, rotation) and it's markedly easier.

2) How a Mail Slot entry propels you forward. I can recall precisely the moment when I realized that a Mail Slot entry added what felt like 'free' propulsion. After a workshop at a health club in Atlanta, I was 'noodling' with my stroke, experimenting with small increases in steepness on my entry.
At a certain point, while entering with what felt like exaggeratedly steep entry, I suddenly felt my body 'squirt' effortlessly forward. I also felt a sense of connection between arm and core, greater than I'd ever sense before. Over ensuing weeks and months I kept playing with it, and before long Mail Slot entered the TI lexicon of Focal Points.
Though I knew it increase propulsion, while costing nothing in effort, I struggled a bit to explain it. Eventually I decided that the increase in propulsive power came from better matching the direction of arm extension to the direction hip movement in the weight shift.

John opened my eyes. He explained how propeller blades provide thrust to a boat or plane. When the blade moves through a fluid (gas or liquid) it's pitch pushes the fluid backward as it spins. The more steeply pitched the blade, the greater the forward propulsion.
So a more steeply angled arm entry produces the maximum amount of forward thrust. The flatter the arm entry, the more water is pushed to the side, and less forward thrust produced. As well, the steeper entry is cleaner, creating less water disruption. Calmer water, with quieter molecules, is more viscous, increasing forward thrust even more -- another benefit of the Mail Slot.

In sum, the Mail Slot provides a 2nd source of propulsive thrust: (1) On entry, because of the propeller effect, then (2) After catch, as you actively press backward with your hand.


The first moment of thrust from the Mail Slot entry allows you the luxury of more patience on your catch, which will improve the effect of your second moment of thrust.

Thanks to John's engineering perspective, we now have a much more comprehensive explanation for why TI technique results in Perpetual Motion Swimming.

Learn Controlled Rotation in Lessons 2, 4 and 5 and Mail Slot in Lessons 6 and 7 of the Self-Coached Workshop DVD.
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  #2  
Old 01-24-2011
MarkkuS MarkkuS is offline
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But why are some spearing horizontally or almost horizontally?
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Old 01-24-2011
Lawrence Lawrence is offline
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Terry, I 've been puzzling over 'steep' entry for some time, and in particular the differences in different swimmers' technique in this respect. Shinji, for instance, spears steeply but then flattens his lead arm so that it becomes almost parallel to the pool bottom as he reaches forwards. I understood from the TI Easy Freestyle DVD, however, that the recommended spearing action involved going in 'steep' and continuing till 'deep' (that is, no flattening of the lead arm during extension).

Does it follow from your propeller analysis that Shinji's method is, in fact, the optimal way to spear? If instead one spears steeply but continues 'deeply' at the same angle to full extension, my own intuition tells me that less water is displaced backwards (and, in addition, there is increased water pressure on the upper side of the spearing arm, resulting in deceleration).

When I changed my spearing from 'steep and deep' to 'steep and flattening' after watching Shinji, I experienced for the first time (and now experience consistently) the effortless 'squirt' forward that you describe. The feeling was so surprising and novel I was convinced right away it was what I should be doing.

Last edited by Lawrence : 01-25-2011 at 06:31 AM.
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Old 01-24-2011
terry terry is offline
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The optimal way to maximize propulsion while minimizing work is
Enter through the Mail Slot, then
Extend at shallower angle.
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  #5  
Old 01-24-2011
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Default Good read

For more discussion on lift and drag in swimming, read through Cecil Colwin's Swimming into the 21st Century and Breakthrough swimming. In the past decade, he's emphasized more on vortices and less on lift in swimming.

Airplane examples are good, but hydrodynamics does operate differently from aerodynamics in many ways.
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Old 01-24-2011
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Default Try this link out

For those looking for some historical discussion of force, lift, drag, and vortices,
try this out
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  #7  
Old 01-25-2011
haschu33 haschu33 is offline
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Hi Terry,

While I fully understand the analogy of the playground swing and can see that this is a very crucial point, I do not really get this one:


Quote:
Originally Posted by terry View Post
...

John opened my eyes. He explained how propeller blades provide thrust to a boat or plane. When the blade moves through a fluid (gas or liquid) it's pitch pushes the fluid backward as it spins. The more steeply pitched the blade, the greater the forward propulsion.
So a more steeply angled arm entry produces the maximum amount of forward thrust. The flatter the arm entry, the more water is pushed to the side, and less forward thrust produced. As well, the steeper entry is cleaner, creating less water disruption. Calmer water, with quieter molecules, is more viscous, increasing forward thrust even more -- another benefit of the Mail Slot.

In sum, the Mail Slot provides a 2nd source of propulsive thrust: (1) On entry, because of the propeller effect, then (2) After catch, as you actively press backward with your hand.


The first moment of thrust from the Mail Slot entry allows you the luxury of more patience on your catch, which will improve the effect of your second moment of thrust.

...
First of all the steep angle of the propeller is relative. There comes a point where the steepness reaches 90 degrees to the direction of propulsion: The propeller will not give any propulsion at all. So it needs to have enough, but not too much steepness.

Then, when you talk about a 'flatter entry' I surmise that you mean an entry that is more in front of the head versus closer to the head, and you don't talk about the angle of the arm under water here, the spearing angle. Otherwise it all doesn't make too much sense to me.

I can't really see why the 'flatter entry' (in that sense mentioned above) displaces more water - the volume of the arm remains the same? I could see the point that when using a mail slot entry the way the displaycement takes place is different: you more or less open a hole and slip the rest of the arm through it, the water displaces itself very fluidly and smoothly around the arm versus creating a strong momentum when forcing the water out of the way in an instance for the entire arm on a flat entry. More or less because the faster you get the more your position moves while your arm enters the water and you in fact pass that 'mail slot' rather quickly.
This far this good - but I don't get what the forward thrust and the propeller effect is while entering the water... there is not even a question of propulsion here, is it ?

In discussion about entry I always have Grant Hackett in my mind with his very swift but very clean spearing action.


That is how I understand your post. And in this sense it is than only logical that the best is 'Enter through the Mail Slot, then Extend at shallower angle. '.
Otherwise I seem to miss something there in my understanding...

BTW: does your angle of entry get 'flatter' when your stroke rate goes up, or do you keep the same 'mail slot' at any given speed?
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Old 01-25-2011
terry terry is offline
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Haschu
The arm never reaches 90 degrees. A 'steep' entry is 45 degrees, so discussion of a propeller at 90 degrees seems besides the point.

When I say 'flat', I mean fully extended in the air in which case the hand and forearm will land at the same moment FLAT on the water's surface - which is actually the most common way the non-TI swimmer enters.

In fact, the instinctive response to an invocation to 'make your stroke longer' or 'reach further' is to do precisely that. In this entry the only direction in which water will be displaced is to either side of the arm, which is useless for propulsion.

In this context, does John's propeller analogy make greater sense? It's advantageous to enter at an angle where the arm itself will displace water backward as it enters, supplementing the propulsion created a moment later as the hand begins pressing back.

In fact, it seems to me that this helps reduce the loss of velocity that typically occurs in the moments between when one hand stops pushing back and the other begins. Like the swing/hip-rhythm analogy, less momentary loss of velocity means far greater ease in maintaining average velocity.

This is our goal in Perpetual Motion Freestyle.
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  #9  
Old 01-25-2011
haschu33 haschu33 is offline
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Thanks for the clarification, in fact I just wanted to have the 'flat' clarified, because I had the impression that it was understood as 'shallow angle', which it is not, obviously.

I basically understand all that - except, sorry, I still don't get the propeller analogy. I think, we talk about the hand/arm entering the water and then spearing to it's target? Not about catch&pull?

The arm is more like a torpedo than a propeller.... water gets displaced in all directions from the arm. Except backwards since we have a forward movement. If it displaces water backwards on the spearing movement shouldn't we should feel (slight) water pressure on the bottom side of our arm?

I don't want to undermine your new insights, so just call me stubborn ;-)
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  #10  
Old 01-25-2011
kueli kueli is offline
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Default Steep, OK. But How deep?

I took my first TI course in Minneapolis in the Fall of 2007. It was lead by Dave Cameron. I will be forever grateful to both TI and Dave. The mantra then concerning entry was "steep and deep". I took that to heart and followed it faithfully. The steep part, together with my runner's legs took me almost to the bottom of the pool. OK, I am exaggerating but only slightly. The result was that I was swimming truly totally immersed. Then I watched Terry and Shinji, and Dave Barra, and Gadi, and they did the steep part alright but they never went as deep as I had originally understood. And my reaction was. Oh! maybe one thing is the talk and the other is the walk. And deep only takes me to the bottom of the pool ---or the bottom of the sea--- when where I really want to be is at the other end or at that faraway rock or islet. So now I do steep, but I don't do deep. And yes I was fortunate enough to go to Maho Bay Camp 2011. And I had the immense pleasure to swim alongside with Terry and to match strokes with him for two or three minutes or so and, surely enough, it was steep but it was not deep. And above all they were extremely relaxed and powerful ---his strokes, not mine. So steep it is. But it is not deep. But it is not as shallow as in Fiona's famous cover shot. So my conclusion is that each one has to find her own angle. Whatever makes you flat in the water. And now it is 16:56 and sunny in Madrid. And I am off to the pool. To chase my Chesire cat ---that misteriously subtle and ellusive perfect angle...
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