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Training

My son is presently 12 and turning 13 in November 2013. He has been improving his times consistently up till recently, about 2 months ago, when it seems his times are either the same or regressing. He is as consistent with his training. Can you help me?
Mashao

Hi Mashao,
There will be times during your son’s development where his times may stagnate for a little while and then improve again.

In general, the rate of improvement of swimmers aged 8 years to 12 years is fairly steep.  The difficult years to maintain improvement occur when a swimmer is aged 13 to 16 years.  During these ages, performance may do one of three things – it may level out a bit, it may regress for a period of time and it may continue upwards.  Each swimmer will have a different pattern.

Once a swimmer reaches this age, males and females tend to grow and develop at different stages and this in turn can affect performance and improvement.
There will be periods of fluctuation in performance as a teenager and when this happens the first time, it can be a concern to all.

If he continues to be consistent in his training, his times will begin to improve again.

Regards
Australian Swimming Clubs

Swimming Questions


Hi, I am a sophomore and I quit competitive swimming in seventh grade due to school related stuff. I used to compete in a lot of meets. I really miss swimming, it used to be my passion and I was wondering if it is still possible to become a college level swimmer. To be honest, I do basketball but am not in as good of shape as I was back when I did swimming. Should I go back to competitive swimming?

Swimming is a sport that you can always go back to no matter how old you are.

As a sophomore you still have time to go back to competitive swimming however you would really need to commit to the training required for at least a 12 month period to give yourself a chance of being competitive again.

The training required to be a competitive swimmer would also assist you to improve your fitness.

Regards
Australian Swimming Clubs

Swimming Questions


I am emailing you with regard to some recommendations you may have on books/dvds etc.on swimming drills for each stroke.  Also books on techniques for each stroke.

Books containing swimming drills are a little hard to find.

One of the best books to read is Swimming Fastest by Ernie Maglischo.  It is really for the serious coach.

Regards
Australian Swimming Clubs

Swimming Questions


I have a breastroke question.  Is there anything that can be done to help a swimmer who appears to be doing a small flutter kick (not intentionally) after each cycle of  the breaststroke kick.

She is not a beginner and is aware of the problem yet does not seem to be able to feel herself doing it while racing or even during practise.  She does own a pair of breaststroke fins . . . does using them help with this problem?  Her fly kick is also a problem while her freestyle kick is quite powerful.

We are wondering if the fact that she has a very mild case of “pigeon toes” may be a factor. I look forward to any insight you may have on this problem.

I think it would be worth videoing the swimmer doing the slight flutter at the end of her breaststroke kick so that she can see what it looks like.  Most children are visual learners so when she sees the flutter kick, she will realise that ‘yes, I do need to change this’. I have not had a lot of experience with breaststroke fins however I would ask her to focus on finishing the breaststroke kick in a streamlined position with the balls of her feet touching and knees touching (if possible).  This will ‘straighten’ her out and reduce any flutter kick, especially if the balls of the feet stay together during the glide phase.

Using fins for butterfly kick will help her to feel when the feet are together and when they are apart.  Butterfly kick on her side, back and front is worth doing, both with and without fins.

Regards
Australian Swimming Clubs

Swimming Questions


I have a kid age 9.  I feel that when he does free kicking it is very slow. How can he improve his freestyle kick?

The key to improving freestyle kick is to do plenty of it at a good intensity.

I would start with sets of 25m kick fast and then build up to sets of 50m kick with the same intensity.

Your son needs to ensure that his knees go up and down past each other when he is doing freestyle kick.  This means that he is kicking from the hip rather than kicking from the knee.

Regards
Australian Swimming Clubs

Swimming Questions


My daughter is 9 years old tall with long arms and legs for her age but slightly chubby. She has been swimming competitively since she was 8 and has been improving constantly with really good times particularly in free and fly.

She has really good 200 and 400 times but in the last 3 months her times for fly and free have dropped and she seems to have lost her technique especially on sprints. She trains 3 times a week and really tries hard but her stroke has fallen apart. She has grown significantly and looks very ungainly at the moment especially her arms.

Is there anything i can do as the coaches at her club don’t seem to be able to pick up on anything and the more she tries to correct her technique the worse its getting

Your email touches on a fairly common subject where young children ‘lose control of their body’ as they go through a growing phase.

Technique will change dramatically over the period of a year or two and it will take time, commitment and patience for her technique to improve again.

In ‘Swimming for Parents’ this topic is covered quite comprehensively and will assist you a lot.

The book can be purchased from the International button (for UK residents) on www.SwimmingForParents.com.

Regards
Australian Swimming Clubs

Swimming Questions


We are about ready to wrap up our winter season here in the States.  Is there anything a swimmer should be doing between seasons?  We have 2 1/2 months between winter and when summer practices begin….

I can’t imagine completely stopping training would be a good idea, but at the same time I know the kids need a little break too.  Do you have any suggestions?

Yes, swimmers will need a break however 2 ½ months is a long time. After a couple of weeks complete rest it is probably worth getting back into an aerobic activity a couple of times a week. Examples include walking, running, gym circuit, other sports.

This will keep the body in reasonable shape so that the athlete does not lose all their conditioning.

After 3 to 4 weeks out of the water, it is worth swimming again, maybe twice a week, even if it is only for 1km to 2km easy swims with a few sprints. This will assist greatly to keep a good feel of the water throughout the break.

Regards
Australian Swimming Clubs

Swimming Questions


I teach swimming at our local small school – prep to year 7.  My question relates to the teaching of butterfly.  Up until this year, we have only taught freestyle, breaststroke and backstroke but I am trying to adjust our school’s program to include the elements of butterfly.

I wonder if you could give me some advice as to roughly at what age you would expect a child to be able to master all elements in order to be able to swim 25 m?  I fully understand that each child progresses at a different rate to his/her peers but, in order to be able to design a fair carnival program which is based on year levels not ability, it is important to have an idea of a reasonable age to expect a child to be able to perform satisfactorily.

Children can learn butterfly kick from a young age. When they push off the wall, they can wiggle their hips up and down and kick a dolphin kick with their feet together.

Once they can do this, 5 to 7 years of age, they can learn the arm strokes. I focus on teaching them 4 arm strokes without a breath initially and then work on their arm stroke and leg kick timing.  Once they can do this, progress to breathing on the 4th stroke and then every two strokes after that.

I have just been to a swim meet today and watch at least 20 x 8 year olds complete a 50m butterfly, so while these are very good swimmers for their age, I would say 8 to 10 years is when young children (particularly those with a bit of swimming talent) can complete 25m of butterfly.

Regards
Australian Swimming Clubs

Swimming Questions


My daughter doesnt seem to have a strong enough pull.  She seems to focus most of her attention on high elbows and the reach and then does a quick pull that exits by her waist.  Can you also suggest drills for this problem?  In kicking drills or swimming with kicking she keeps up with the boys in her group but then when they do pulling sets alone she falls way behind.

It takes different children a different amount of time to develop the strength in there arms.

Doing some sculling with the arms out in front of the body so that she feels the water on her hands is a good first step.

If she does 25m sculling and 25m freestyle she should try to maintain the same feel of the water on her hands.

Once she is feeling the water well, she needs to work on getting hold of the water out in front and then accelerating her hand through the water while maintaining her feel.

The thumb should brush past the thigh on every stroke.

Regards
Australian Swimming Clubs

Swimming Questions


We have noticed that when doing freestyle our daughter’s hands seem to be angling outwards while she is in the reaching motion of the freestyle.  She has spent a lot of time concentrating on her distance  per stroke but it seems that she has developed this action which then  prevents her from properly grabbing the water for the pull part of  the stroke among other things.  Can you suggest any drills to correct  this problem?

This is a common mistake in swimmers who over-reach in freestyle whereby they enter with their thumb side of their hand.

The best bet is to video your daughter, show her what she is doing, and then get her to correct it by entering with a flatter hand.  Her coach will need to work on this daily for at least a month if a significant change is to take place.

Single arm freestyle with correct technique is the best drill to correct this.

Regards
Australian Swimming Clubs

Swimming Questions


I have swimmers who just tapered for a district meet to make qualifying
times for a Championship meet. I have 25 days until the championship meet.
Should I build them back up for a few weeks then taper again or try to hold
their taper?

I think with 25 days I would be building them up slightly so that they maintain their fitness and then taper them again.

So long as you don’t go back into too much really hard work, you will not need too long a taper leading into the Championships.

The older the athlete, the more taper they will need.

Regards
Australian Swimming Clubs

Swimming Questions


Hi
My son is 9 and has been swimming in squad for 2 ½  years.  This season he has started this weird rolling action with his hips whereby his bottom is  coming up out of the water.  I have spoken to his coach (who has only been coaching at senior level for 3 years) how to correct this but to date has had no luck.  It has really slowed down his swimming.  Can you help with this problem?

Without watching your son swim it is very difficult to diagnose why he is swimming the way he is.

It may be worthwhile taking a video of his stroke and showing it to him so that he can see what is happening.

Normally the rest of the body follows the head, so also check that his head is staying totally still (except of course when he breathes).

Hope this helps.

Regards
Australian Swimming Clubs

Swimming Questions


What is a typical warm up for a 13yo female 200m Butterfly swimmer, including a the length of break between warm up and competition?

Most 200m Butterfly swimmers would include a variety of strokes in their warm-up often with a focus on freestyle and butterfly.

The may do an easy swim including some drills for approx 800m.
A set like 8 x 50 as
1. build free,
2. 25 fly fast, 25 free easy,
3. 25 free easy, 25 fly fast
4. 50 fly at 200m pace Twice through s a good set.

Some swimmers will include more fly in their warm-up, others may do less. It is a good idea to practice some fly starts and turns as well as part of the warm up. Most swimmers finish their warm-up between 30min and 60min prior to their swim, once again depending on what they are comfortable with.

Regards
Australian Swimming Clubs

Swimming Questions


What are the pros and cons of swim training so early in the day, i.e- 5 am? is it just so that the swimmers can go to school or work, or are they physiological reasons aswell?

The primary reason, at least in Australia for children aged 9 years to 18 years, is so that they can go to school during the day.

Most train 5:00am to 7:00am and then go home (if their lucky), eat breakfast and go straight to school.  Most schools start between 8:15am and 8:30am and finish at 3:30pm.  The finish time means that a majority of programs train either 4:00-6:00pm or 5:00-7:00pm, and those who train in a pool that is also used for learn-to-swim will train 6:00-7:30pm.

While most sessions are based around school and uni timetables, the positioning of them at say a starting time of 5:00am and 5:00pm allows each swimmer a maximum time of recovery from one session to the next eg. 10hrs between am and pm session and 10hrs between pm and am session.

Regards
Australian Swimming Clubs

Swimming Questions


 My son is 12 years old. He plays cricket, football, waterpolo, and some running. He also just competed in the Nationals for swimming.

He is now being asked to step up to  a minimum of 5 sessions (4 x 2 hours, 1 land training) and really do 6-7 sessions for swimming.

We recognise that to make this commitment he will have to drop some other sports. However we do think that such a commitment will cause him to burn-out and drop swimming competitively.

In your opinion of athletes who eventually become olympic or elite swimmers;  how many sessions should he be doing, given he will be gaining some fitness from his other sports.

Your question is a difficult one to answer because every child is different.

In regards to the training, many of the strong 12 year olds in Australia would be training 5 to 7 sessions per week, so what he is being advised to do is in line with what many other good 12 year olds are doing.

There are many misconceptions in regards to ‘burnout’ in swimming.  I am not a believer in burn out, rather children will make different choices as they go through life and if they have done one sport for a while and then choose to try something else, and they are making a choice to change their focus.  I have seen many many swimmers who have trained 5 to 8 sessions a week at a young age and go on to represent their country and others who have done the same when they are young and not swum past the age of 14 years.  Ultimately your son will need to make choices on what he can physically fit in to his schedule and he needs to be guided by what he loves doing.

Competitive swimming is quite tough however it also has many benefits for a child’s development (both in and out of the water) and also assists with fitness for a multitude of other sports.

A majority of swimmers of swimmers who go on to represent their country in swimming lay a solid foundation by training between 5 to 8 sessions per week around the age of 12 years.  There are also a smaller number who may not train this often when young and still come through to swim at an elite level when they are older.

Regards
Australian Swimming Clubs

Swimming Questions


My daughter is 9 yrs old and is a keen swimmer. Whilst she is a fairly strong breaststroker , she is weaker in the other three strokes due to her poor kicking. In kickboard drills she hardly moves yet in drills with flippers she powers ahead of  the others! . In drills with the pull buoy it’s the same- she powers ahead. Unfortunately she has small feet which probably dosen’t help her  in her quest for a strong kick but any tips on how she could improve her kicking?

Every child takes to the water differently depending on their body shape, coordination and flexibility.  Often a child may be good at one stroke and not as good at another, or stronger with their arms than their legs or vice versa.

In particular children who are ‘natural breaststrokers’ with feet that turn out well and catch the water, may have trouble with kicking in the other 3 strokes. In breaststroke, the feet are dorsiflexed as they kick back, whereas in the other three strokes, the feet are plantar flexed with the toes pointed.  Each child’s flexibility in their ankles will assist them to dorsi or plantar flex, so ankle exercises can be very useful to improve the range of motion and their kicking.

My suggestion is for your daughter to continue to work hard in her freestyle, backstroke and butterfly kicks as they will improve and also to do some stretching exercises with her ankles to increase flexibility.

Short fast sets are often the best way to improve kicking quickly.  For example doing 12 x 25 freestyle kick with 15 sec rest between each one, at a fast speed, on a regular basis will assist her freestyle kick.  Similar sets with backstroke and butterfly kick will also assist her development.

Regards
Australian Swimming Clubs

Swimming Questions


How many sessions should a 16 year old and a 12 year old who are State reps be doing per week, and should morning swimming be a part of the training programme?

Also is it beneficial to be training short course going into a long course competition, when long course training is available.

The number of sessions swimmers do at each age will vary on their swimming background, training and racing abilities.  If swimmers are serious about swimming at a National level then 12 year olds should be looking at 5 to 6 sessions per week and 16 year olds doing 7 to 9 sessions per week, depending on their previous training history.

Many coaches choose to do short course training leading into long course meets.  Swimmers who train all year round in a mixture of short and long course pools will adapt to racing in both very quickly.  In a 25m pool a coach can work on the swimmer’s speed and skills leading up to major meets.  In my opinion, a mixture of the two is best.

Regards
Australian Swimming Clubs

Swimming Questions


Hi,
My son is quite a competitive swimmer. He has excellent pull under water but has a frustratingly slow stroke rate. If he could increase this he would really pull the seconds off quickly. His times are very good for his age (12) but he needs some tips on improving his stroke rate. Any suggestions?

Hi and thanks for your email,

The fact that your son has an excellent underwater pull is a very good sign as that tells me that he has a good feel of the water and holds the water well.  The slow stroke rate will most likely be due to a lack of strength in his arms and therefore an inability to pull through the water faster.

The strength in his arms and body will develop as he grows and matures and for some boys this may be around 13 to 15 years however for many it could be as late as 18 to 21 years.

The best thing for your son to do is to continually practice applying more pressure on the water on every arm stroke.  He can do this by accelerating his hand through the water on every arm pull whilst still maintaining good stroke technique.  He may only be able to do this for 2 or 3 strokes out of each turn originally however he should work on then increasing it to 4 or 5 strokes over time and then more strokes when he can.  He will really need to concentrate to achieve this and his arms will hurt more in every training session, without even trying to go faster.

The other way to get a faster stroke would be to allow his hands to slip more through the water and I would not recommend this as his feel and catch on the water will become a huge asset.

On dryland, it may be worth doing a little bit of work with stretch cords focusing on the front part of the stroke, the middle part of the stroke and the back part of the stroke as well as the whole stroke.  Building up to 3 sets of 10 of each one would be good however be really careful of any soreness, especially through the shoulders.

I hope this helps.

Regards
Australian Swimming Clubs

Swimming Questions


Hi-my name is Brooke and iam 12 years old and swim for a swimming club in Canberra. I have been swimming for 3 years know and iam loving swimming. My best stroke is breaststroke, my arms and legs are both very strong, but when I swim butterfly I seem to tyre out very easily.

For my 50m Butterfly time is 34:91 which is a pretty fast time but then my 100m butterfly time is 1:34.56 which gets so much slower. Is there anything that I can to so I don’t slow down as much in the 100m and the 200m Butterfly????

Yes, your 100m fly time should be faster than it is if you can go 34.91 for the 50m.  For many swimmers doing sets of 25’s butterfly actually helps them to improve their 100 and 200m butterfly.

Example sets are:
3 sets of 8 x 25m fly on 40 sec with 60 sec rest between each set
Gradually work these down to doing them on 35 sec and then 30 sec over time.

You should eventually be aiming to go at least 40 x 25 fly fast on 30 seconds.

Once you can do this work on sets that include 50’s and 25’s of fly eg. 1 x 50, 4 x 25, 1 x 50 and do this set 3 times through.  This will help build speed and endurance for your 200 butterfly.

The other thing you need to work on is your mindset. Be positive about the 100 butterfly; don’t be scared of doing it.  If you don’t think you will go well, you probably won’t.  If you go into the race with a positive attitude, you will do well.

Regards
Australian Swimming Clubs

Swimming Questions



Hi,
My name is Leon. I would like to know if I could tone up the various muscles of my arm just through swimming alone (and not the gym). Does it reduce the impact stress on the joint? What style do I have to swim to train which part of my arm?

 

Hi Leon,
Yes, you can definitely tone up your arms by swimming.  Each of the four competitive strokes will tone up your arms.  You will also need to do a mixture of aerobic swimming and fast swimming to assist.

Other sets that will assist you are butterfly sets eg 8 x 25 Fly fast and you can do this up to 4 times with a 100m easy swim between each set of 8.

Try also band only pull in 25’s swimming at max effort as this is a power set and will help develop power in your arms.

Regards
Australian Swimming Clubs

Swimming Questions


Hi my names Emma
Im a competitive swimmer. Im 15 turning 16.
Due to moving alot over the past year i havnt been swimming.
So its been over a year with out training.
I did a 29 for my 50m free. 1.03 for my 100m Free
I want to get back into it and get my times back.
I live in a small mining town and there pool closes over winter.
I realy want to start and i want to know if its possiable for when it opens back up that if i train hard i’l eventualy start going back to those times?

Hi Emma,

If you have the right attitude (which you seem to) and keep fit over the winter, there is no reason you cannot get back to these times or faster.

You need to do some aerobic work at least 3 times a week, eg go for a run and then do some simple exercises 3 times a week on alternate days.

See if you can find out who the coach is at the local pool and make contact with them to see if they can give you a dryland program for winter.

I hope this helps.

Regards
Australian Swimming Clubs

Swimming Questions



Hello,
My Name is Brooke and i’m 11 years old. I have been swimming competitively for 2 years. I train most afternoons. i have really strong legs and a really good kick but my arms need to rotate faster. i have strong shoulders for Butterfly and freestyle, i would like to improve my strokes beacause i have got to drop nearly 1 second in the 50m Freestyle and 1.5 seconds in 50m Butterfly to qualify for short course championships in Winter. What is the best way for me to make my arms go faster is there any excercises?

Hi Brooke,
Swimming training is probably the best exercise for all swimmers as the more often you swim, the faster you will improve. Often your arm speed through the water is dependant on your feel of the water (a good feel will take longer to move through) and how strong you are. To build up strength in your arms you may want to do some general exercises like push ups and chin ups however one of the better exercises would be to get yourself a set of stretch cords and then simulate the freestyle and butterfly motions on dryland using the stretch cords. By increasing your strength you will increase the speed your hands will move through the water, without slipping.
Good luck with your swimming.

Regards
Australian Swimming Clubs

Swimming Questions


Hi,
I’m 14 years old and I train about 3 times a week.
My best strokes are butterfly and freestyle.
I also work out at the women’s gym Curves 3 times a week. What other land activities can I do to strengthen myself in butterfly and freestyle?
Dalia.

Hi Dalia,
While dryland exercises are not my strength I would suggest doing some stretch cord work simulating the butterfly pull. You can do the front part of your stroke, the back part of your stroke and the whole stroke as three different exercises. The best strength training you can do for swimming is to swim more often as every armpull helps to strengthen your arms. I am not sure what your individual situation is and how far you live from a pool however if you can train more often, this would help a lot.

Regards
Australian Swimming Clubs

Swimming Questions


Hi, I’d just like to know some tips for the breastroke technique. When Racing, do your arms pull in a Y shape, and then in towards the chest? What is the most efficient way to gain more, and use less effort?
Thanks Julian

Hi Julian,
There is a comprehensive description of the breaststroke arm stroke on the following page http://www.swimclub.com.au/resources/articles/coaches/breaststroke_technique.htm.
This technique would stay the same whether you are going slow or fast. It is important that your hands do not pull back too far otherwise this will create drag when you need to recover them.

Regards
Australian Swimming Clubs

Swimming Questions


My daughter is 9 years old her stroke is breaststoke & I would like to know what dry land training she could do to help strengthen her.She needs it for her arms as she is not real strong in the top half
Michelle, NSW
Hi Michelle,

At 9 years of age, the best exercise that your daughter can do is swimming. This can be combined with some body weight exercises like sit ups, push ups, burpees and the many variations however I wouldn’t recommend any weights being involved at this age.

I hope this helps.

Regards
Australian Swimming Clubs

Swimming Questions


 

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