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  #11  
Old 05-24-2009
Baroche Baroche is offline
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Vol

Sorry, in my next post I will talk about insights you are keen to hear. Symmetry will be central to my insights so here is my understanding on the topic:

Asymmetric strokes both “conscious” and “unconscious” are the result of tendencies directly related to the physical incompetency of the muscles and joints on our weaker, less developed side. These tendencies are also manifest in our breathing patterns, where swimmers favour breathing to a particular more comfortable side.

Conscious asymmetry in swimming is a deliberately optimised technique where the swimmer, after assessing relative strengths and weaknesses, adopts different mechanics on their right and left side. This asymmetry has never deterred gifted athletes in their path to Olympic greatness. The Olympic standard, in timed events, requires that to claim gold, the winning athlete need only produce the fastest time in the gold medal race. Competitive swimmers constantly modify their technique, but often efficiency is partially sacrificed for expediency. As my algebra teacher would preach “Given alternative methods exist to the same answer, the right method is the one that first comes to mind” – elegance and efficiency be damned!

Here is a video of Mark Foster. “Who”? I hear you ask! One of the most successful British swimmers of all time, Mark has swam the long course 50m as fast as 21.96 – with an asymmetric stroke, thank you very much (see asymmetry from above camera angle at 0.26s in the video). Notice where his left hand ends up crossed over past a central line drawn through his spine.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlNpFAvt1wk

Alexander Popov stands out as a swimmer unshackled from the constraints of asymmetry. In a post Popov era, given his success, it is truly difficult to imagine why asymmetric swimmers even still exist. Don’t they watch the tape? Nevertheless, in today’s ultra competitive arena the asymmetric swimmer, if not now completely bared from greatness has become an endangered species.

Unconscious asymmetry on the other hand is deliberate only to the extent it has been ingrained. Practice makes permanent. There is no conscious assessment of strengths and weaknesses, no refinement. A technique is chosen by the mind and body acting in concert to select the path of less resistance. Rather sinister, it can be largely unpredictable, subject to the whim and range of motion dictated by the muscles and joints during a particular swim session! The body simply does what it is most comfortable performing. The result is that the mechanics of the right and left side may or may not be mirrored. To be clear, if one side is more propulsive that the other, your stroke is asymmetrical. Even though your right and left arms trace exactly the same path, if one arm is somewhat more constrained, more tense, more rehearsed then you possess an asymmetric stroke.
Only when you can mirror the your stronger side in both mechanics and propulsion do you approach true symmetry.

Here is a video of a future Olympian showing symmetry in both propulsion and mechanics :-)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4InLAsnmKhY

I am right handed and my left side is less propulsive than my right. In my next post, I will address some of my insights into how I am addressing the impatient left hand which I also found to be a problem.
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  #12  
Old 05-24-2009
vol vol is offline
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Baroche,

Good suspension--you'll make a great detective story writer ;)

I just had a swim and tried to feel my left side, especially how the core affects the leftside movement (remembering your summary). Don't know if this is the main problem, but at least one problem seems to be that my left side is unable to fully extend as my right side, by which I mean: there is always an angle at the left armpit between left arm and left torso, whereas my right arm, when extended, is completely in line with my right side torso with the right armpit at a straight angle. The extended right arm is also in line with the right hip. When the left arm is extended, the left hip has a slight drop. Again recalling your summary that the problem lies in the core, not the arms, I tried to kick (from the hip) the right leg slightly earlier so that the hips lift slightly sooner. It seems to help a little, though the left arm has an earlier drop.

Thanks again for pointing out that the problem lies in the core, not the hand/arm, so that I now will concentrate working on the core instead of simply making left arm imitate the right arm (to no avail).

Please have your cup of coffee and come back to share your insight with us!

Added later:
I swam twice today! Once before and once after I posted the above :) Just to try out the issues we have been discussing. A little better, but still not very symmetric. Can't wait to hear your insights, Baroche. If you post it now I may go for a third swim today ;)

Last edited by vol : 05-25-2009 at 02:20 AM.
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  #13  
Old 05-25-2009
eddiewouldgo eddiewouldgo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rwilkes View Post
However, my problem is that i can not seem to hold my lead arm during recovery. When i turn my head to breath, automatically my lead arms starts to pull back and not anchor.
To teach yourself to roll/breathe with the lead arm extended, try the "Unco" drill -- one-arm drill breathing on the non-working arm side. Push off in streamline, pull one arm to your side, and leave it there. The other arm, which remains extended, will be the only stroking arm for the rest of the length. Swim using only that arm. Swim with rotation to both sides, but breathe on the side of the tucked, non-working arm. This can be hard at first, but you will quickly learn to time your breathing motion so that the mouth clears the surface when your working arm is fully extended. Its very difficult to do it the wrong way (i.e., with a sculling, too-early pull in the extended arm). Its a technique-forcing drill. If you don't have a decent kick, you probably want to do this one with fins so you maintain enough momentum to generate a bow wave. Once you get the hang of it -- one goggle wet, inhaling on a fully extended opposite arm, it will get easier fast. The YouTube video posted earlier in the thread shows what it should look like. Good luck and persist.
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  #14  
Old 05-25-2009
LilBeav LilBeav is offline
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I reread this thread this morning before heading out to taste some chlorine. Recently, I have been struggling with my weaker side breathing. To the point that I wouldnt breath to that side (left for me). Yesterday I committed to myself that I would focus on weak side breathing, doing drills (nod, skate-breath-skate) daily to see if I could get it back. While re-reading this thread, I picked up on the extension concept. Was that what I wasnt doing on my weak side? Before we got into the water, I shared the concept with my swim buddy, showing him what I thought was being talked about. While demonstrating the reach, I notice that my head turned a little further (to air). Hmmmm, not only does it make me longer, but it actually rotates me to breathing. It worked in the water. I am once again getting my air and keeping my balance while weakside breathing, well most of the time anyway.
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  #15  
Old 05-25-2009
Baroche Baroche is offline
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Baroche
Default Patient Left Hand

Vol

One of the differences between TI and conventional swimming technique is the emphasis on the length of the glide phase. During the glide phase one arm, the lead arm, is held out in front of the body to provide the most streamlined body shape and the least resistance to movement through the water.

The ability of the lead hand to stay out in front of the body is directly proportional to the propulsive force which powers the glide phase of the stroke. The propulsive force originates from three sources:

1. The pull phase of the stroke
2. The kicking of the feet
3. The core muscles of the trunk

Unlike conventional swimming the TI method relies less on sources (1) and (2).

The main propulsive force in TI swimming is (3) the core muscles.

Your inability to maintain a good lead with your left hand is due to poor front quadrant timing in linking your stroke to the power of core body rotation. This manifests itself in a weaker propulsion on your left side so less distance is covered or what amounts to the same thing, the glide comes to an end too quickly. This explains why your right hand lead seems like it can stay out forever! Consequently if you are not moving forward in a glide, the pull comes too early.

To illustrate Your Problem
Take a tennis ball or baseball in your right hand and go through the motion that would require a throw to first base. Notice how instinctively, your upper body pulls back and the follow through seamlessly combines the release of a fluid arm movement with the power provided by the back muscles. Now try it with your left hand.....Urgh!

Your left side is not very intuitive in linking the stroke timing with the rotation of your core. As a drill in the pool try the Zipperswitch drill from the TI material. What you are aiming for is to achieve the same distance per stroke on your left side compared to your stronger right.

Here is popov doing a Zipperswitch drill. Notice symmetry of his strokes in both propulsion and mechanics:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzWzZ...eature=related


Outside the pool you can train your left side by gently trying to replicate a smooth throw to an imaginary "first-base" - but using your left hand. Your right side will be your coach!

When you are getting strong propulsion, you will glide much longer with your left lead arm and your breath to the left should improve. Remember to breath as you extend your hand to the catch position - NOT during the pull! Good luck.

One more thing! it is very important that your let go of the left hand so that you have a very inertial free-swinging recovery arm on your left side.

Last edited by Baroche : 05-25-2009 at 08:15 PM.
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  #16  
Old 05-26-2009
vol vol is offline
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Baroche,

Your analysis and observations make a lot of sense to me. One important realization after reading your analysis is this: I had thought if I could keep my left arm extended for longer time then I would be able to glide longer, but you make me realize that it's the opposite--or at least the opposite is also true: if I were able to glide longer, then my left hand would be able to stay on the water longer, and I must accomplish this by training the core muscle use. Your analogy of baseball is excellent! I find that swimming has this extra benefit that is often not mentioned: it helps us correct the asymmetry and inbalance formed lifelong which we have taken for granted and don't seem to pose problem in daily life. Once corrected, I'm sure it will not only help swimming but also improve our everyday movement.

Btw does the "core muscle" include the hips or just the upper torso?

Last edited by vol : 05-26-2009 at 12:11 AM.
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  #17  
Old 05-26-2009
daveblt daveblt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vol View Post
Baroche,

[Your analysis and observations make a lot of sense to me. One important realization after reading your analysis is this: I had thought if I could keep my left arm extended for longer time then I would be able to glide longer, but you make me realize that it's the opposite--or at least the opposite is also true: if I were able to glide longer, then my left hand would be able to stay on the water longer, and I must accomplish this by training the core muscle use. ]


And don't forget about good balance also !



[Your analogy of baseball is excellent! I find that swimming has this extra benefit that is often not mentioned: it helps us correct the asymmetry and inbalance formed lifelong which we have taken for granted and don't seem to pose problem in daily life. Once corrected, I'm sure it will not only help swimming but also improve our everyday movement.

Btw does the "core muscle" include the hips or just the upper torso?]


The core is the hips and the glutes.


Dave
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  #18  
Old 05-26-2009
Baroche Baroche is offline
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Baroche
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Vol

Dave is right to point out, very importantly; good BALANCE is a prerequisite to all of this. You can generate all the propulsion power in the world, without out good balance your effortless turn to breathe will find water as your legs pull you down.

Note: Your Zipperswitch should feature a very flutter-like kick or hardly at all! It is Popov's balance which allows him to surface in his "sweet spot" and breathe! He even waves with his lead hand to promote, I suspect, a lack of tension in the lead hand (IMPORTANT)!

Last edited by Baroche : 05-26-2009 at 03:02 AM.
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  #19  
Old 05-27-2009
rwilkes rwilkes is offline
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Hi all,

Thanks baroche for your insights into this post.

Today went from bad to worse. maybe because it is on my mind on every stroke, but today i just could not leave my had out in front.

Even in skate when i turned my head to breath trying not to go to sweet spot i felt as if my head was too deep in the water.

Reading the posts on this thread, do i go back to basics and try balance all over ???? I am not sure if my head is "light" and i am not hitting the same angle/spot when i spear and drive forward.

It is though my progress has just come to stop because of this problem.

I also tried to deliberatly move my hips to propel forward - ok on one or two strokes but when i need to breath the same problem, lead hand down and balance goes.

Its so frustrating to progress so far and then hit the "wall"......

Also, i am not 100% on what "zenswitch" does ??? From the book and DVD, i understand how to do it (whether i do it correct is another matter !), but i am not sure how this drill helps in the full stroke. When i zenskate/switch all i seem to do is sink !!!

Your continued help would be greatly appreciated !!!!

Last edited by rwilkes : 05-27-2009 at 01:05 PM.
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  #20  
Old 05-27-2009
jpanzer jpanzer is offline
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Default I have felt your pain!

Having been an extremely balance challenged swimmer, I suffered through problems like these. It took a long time - lots of patience and consistency - to get past these balance problems and feel effortlessly supported by the water.

Your problem seems mainly due to balance. In your position I just kept working on the early balance drills, especially skating. I used the fins a lot during these drills. They helped my confidence so I could focus on body position.

Your head position is a big part of the puzzle. Work on your head position in skating with your fins on. Keep working on it until you feel very balanced. Once you feel the balance, your arm will stop dropping when you go to breath. Make sure you don't pick up your head when you breath - just roll to the air.

Keep it simple and it will come.

Last edited by jpanzer : 05-27-2009 at 02:01 PM.
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