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The New Breaststroke
I love watching Adam Peaty and Lilly King do the swimming technique breaststroke . It is the new breaststroke. You might call it a high octane breaststroke, as it is a powerful swimming technique for the 50 and 100, primarily (Adam doesn’t even swim the 200 breast). This new breaststroke should be fast in both tempo and speed.
Having a fast stroke rate in breaststroke does not necessarily equate to having speed. It is pretty easy to spin your wheels in breaststroke and waste a lot of energy without having much to show for that effort in terms of speed. Breaststroke is the most timing-sensitive of all four strokes. It requires a completely different set of tools to do well, which includes hip, ankle, and lumbar spinal flexibility. It is also a stroke where, in order to do well, neither the arms nor the legs ever get to rest. For all of these reasons, breaststroke is the most difficult stroke to teach and learn.
Lilly and Adam have several things in common in their breaststroke technique. Both swimmers are very strong in the pull and the kick. Both swimmers use their upper bodies and heads extremely well to couple with the pull and the kick. Both swimmers have lightning fast legs.
Having the right hip and ankle flexibility enables a breaststroker to push the instep of the feet backward with greater surface area, resulting in more propulsion. Having more lumbar flexibility enables a breaststroker to elevate the shoulders higher out of the water, while still keeping the legs pointing backwards. The higher the shoulders climb, the harder they fall. It is in the falling of the upper body and head where the timing becomes crucial for the kick.
If the swimmer is to take advantage of all that energy of the upper body and head crashing down, there is precious little time from the end of the pulling propulsion; when the shoulders are fully elevated and legs pointing backwards, until the start of the subsequent kicking propulsion, when the upper body should be striking the water. Shortly after that, the kinetic energy of the upper body goes to zero. If the kick didn’t happen in time, you just missed the dance. That is where the lightning fast legs comes into play.
Recently, using Pressure Meter technology at The Race Club, we measured the force on the pulling hands of world class Croatian breaststroker, Nikola Obrovac. By increasing his stroke rate by 4 strokes per minute (53 to 57) and by increasing the speed of elevation of his shoulders by 9% (207 degrees per second to 227 degrees per second), Niko increased the pressure (force) on his right hand by 9% and on his left hand by 3%. We will feature all of Niko’s results in an upcoming webisode.
While Niko’s shoulder elevation is a coupling motion for his breaststroke pulling force, we presume that coupling will work for his kick, also, if the timing is right. To develop lightning fast legs for breaststroke requires great strength and training. Then, with those fast legs, to augment the power of the kick, the head must snap down hard and the body press forward vigorously.
Yours in swimming,
Mandy Rothe (14) finished up the 2019-2020 short course season in fine from in winning the 13-14 Girls 200 Backstroke (2:06.5) at the Age Group State Championships last weekend. In winning the first State title for the Aquabear Swim club ever, she added to her medal tally after a fantastic 100 Back swim on Saturday night in taking 2nd (59.5).
Congratulations also to* Adam Habib (10)* who also took home 2 top 8 medals (200 and 500 free) and scoring points and earning second swims ina ll 6 of his events. Tony Gardner (14) also enjoyed his first ever state championships blasting a personal best 50 Free on Saturday morning and following up with a solid 100 Free on Sunday!.
Mental toughness isn’t just about being more gritty than the next swimmer; it’s about taking care of yourself between practices. Here’s how sleep will help you be more resilient this season.
The life of a competitive swimmer can be grueling. You don’t really need me to tell you that. Between the early morning workouts, the in-season meets, and a season that stretches across every month on the calendar, we put a lot of time and energy into the sport.
As a result of all the millions and millions of swim practices, and all of the competing interests for our time—school, eating, what passes for a social life, more eating—our schedule becomes taxed to the point that we start looking for things to cut corners on.
Unfortunately, sleep is usually the first thing on the cutting block.
Your coach has told you a hundred times how important it is. So have your parents. And so have I.
When you think of what mental toughness is, there are probably a host of different examples that come to mind. It’s being able to show up on those early mornings when you are sore and tired. It’s finishing the main set at full throttle even though your lungs and muscles are screaming for oxygen. It’s doing the little things right, even when you don’t feel like doing them.
Mental toughness, essentially, is the ability to withstand stress.
The approach we take when it comes to “toughening up” usually goes against how mental toughness works, however. We go balls-to-the-wall all the time, never giving ourselves a chance to recover and rejuvenate. Or we treat our bodies like a five-alarm dumpster fire between practices, ensuring that we never have a chance to properly bounce back.
The sneaky reality of mental toughness is buried in how we well we recharge and recover. It’s looking after ourselves physically and mentally so that we can “top up” our toughness for moments where we need it most.
MENTAL TOUGHNESS COMES FROM PROPER RECOVERY
Some swimmers naturally come by exceptional levels of resilience. There’s no arguing that point. There are athletes among us have a better developed approach to mental toughness.
But mental toughness is not something that is static or even entirely genetic. It’s a skill, something that we can crank up when we give it a little bit of TLC.
And one of the easiest (and most enjoyable) ways to secure yourself some hot-blooded mental toughness is spending more time in the sheets.
LACK OF SLEEP MAKES YOUR WORKOUTS HARDER THAN THEY NEED TO BE
Think back to the last time you went back-to-back sleepless nights: how did those workouts go?
Sleep deprivation causes things to feel harder than they should. When we experience sleeplessness the next day our rate of perceived effort goes up—even off just one night of bad sleep, meaning that the hard workout planned is going to feel even harder.
Sleep deprivation causes our ability to pay attention to plummet. Ever notice that it gets harder to focus on things when you are tired? Things like the interval, the breathing pattern, or even keeping track of how many rounds of the main set you’ve done?
Sleep deprivation causes us to be sicker more often. Unsurprisingly, when we subject ourselves to sleep loss we put our bodies at risk of being sick. Research has consistently shown a connection between poor sleep and bad health outcomes (here’s one), which should make intuitive sense: how many times have you gotten sick when your schedule was over-burdened?
Sleep deprivation makes us less tough. One study found that teenagers who had higher levels of mental toughness slept better, slept longer and more deeply, and woke up less often compared to their groggy and less mentally tough peers.
THE NEXT STEP
Getting more sleep usually means that you are going to have cut corners elsewhere.
Perhaps they are going to be things that you think you need (Netflix, chatting on your phone till the wee hours of the morning, scrolling social feeds like the wheel on Wheel of Fortune). Perhaps it means you need to get serious about your schedule. (Here are some more ideas on how to carve out time for more sleep.)
Write yourself out a sleep schedule. Get some naps in. Spend more quality time with your pillows.
Higher levels of mental toughness and better and faster swimming await.
ABOUT OLIVIER POIRIER-LEROY
Olivier Poirier-Leroy is a former national level swimmer. He’s the publisher of YourSwimBook, a ten-month log book for competitive swimmers.
As the end of this short course season rapidly approaches the Aquabear Swim Club athletes are rip-roaring ready to compete and show their stuff at the last few meets.
Starting with the Lost Dutchman Invite in Chandler Arizona Presidents day weekend and continuing into the Junior Olympics in Goodyear and State Championships for Seniors (Mesa) and Age Groupers (Tucson) in look’s to be a busy and exciting last few weeks of the season. Lost Dutchman will headline “Iron Bear” Adam Habib (10) who just achieved his 12th out of 12 State “A” times last weekend. He is now qualified at the State level for every stroke and distance in his age group and is looking forward to taking on some superior competition at Dutchman in preparation for the State Championship Meet in March. * Jake Stahlman (16)* “Bear #6” is also going to be an exciting one to watch as he tries to secure his first ever spot at the Senior State Championships. Competing on his best events ,and having put some quality work in over the last few months, he is looking to suit up and show up … in a LARGE way! Both Mandy Rothe (14) and Kaylan Ottosen (16) will be representing on the ladies side at Dutchman with both in position to make a showing on the medal stand in at least a couple of events over the weekend. Finally we have 3 " little bears" swimming in their first ever Lost Dutchman Meet. Lizzie Barr (9), Rachel Habib (8), and Pyper Smaellie (8) are excited and ready to compete in their forst ever prelims-finals meet!
Updates to follow ….
Bear Swim School is now taking registrations for GROUP SWIM LESSONS for Summer 2020.
Lessons begin on Monday May 19th, 2020.
Level I and Level II and Level III lessons are offered on a Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs schedule.
Weekly sessions (4 classes) offered throughout the summer.
Check the PROGRAMS / BEAR SWIM SCHOOL / SUMMER 2020 tab in tnbe porange toolbar above .
Call or Text now (520 820 3233) for information and/or a registration link.