- Unilateral breathing (breathing to one side): This can cause asymmetries in your stroke. You will often see top swimmers and triathletes breathing to one side in certain situations such as when racing. What you don't see is that they will practice breathing to both sides and be comfortable breathing to either side so they can adapt their technique when necessary. What we often see in a habitual unilateral breather is a tendency to over-rotate to the breathing side and under-rotate to the non-breathing side and obvious asymmetry in the water that can lead to other problems such as swimming related shoulder pain and a loss of ideal body alignment.
- Cross-over: A cross-over occurs when the hand enters the water and then crosses over the mid line of the body. This is a common cause of swimming related shoulder pain. It also makes it very difficult to set up for a good catch and pull because of the compromised position of the shoulder. In addition a cross-over can cause other problems such as a scissor kick, a loss of good body alignment and over-rotation especially during breathing.
- Dropped wrists and elbows: As the hand enters the water and extends the wrist drops, the fingers and palm come up and you effectively apply the brakes. An effective catch and pull requires you to keep your elbow high during these phases of the stroke. Dropping the elbow and pressing down on the water lifts you up at the front end and causes your legs to sink. This is something we often see when someone goes to take a breath during freestyle. Have a look at the videos from Swim Smooth here for examples of dropped wrists and elbows.
- Dead spots: The most likely place you will find a dead spot is just as the arm extends after hand entry before initiating the catch. This pause causes a loss of rhythm and often means that you will then rush the catch and pull phase. A dead spot is often followed by the elbow dropping and the arm pressing down on the water.
- Breath holding: A common problem that can be observed in swimmers of all abilities. This can be a major cause of anxiety and tension created by the feeling of being quite literally 'breathless'. Breath holding can also be a cause of 'sinky legs' by increasing buoyancy at the front end of the body. The body will act just like a see-saw and the legs will then sink.
- Loss of ideal body alignment: As mentioned above the loss of good alignment can be the result of other faults such as unilateral breathing and cross-overs. It can also be a primary fault. Your proprioception (awareness of your body in space) is important here. Someone that moves their head from side to side with every stroke may be completely unaware that this is what they do. They may also be completely unaware that this causes their whole body to follow and we see the classic 'snaking' through the water.
A few of the club members are getting together for a ride on Saturday morning. The plan is to meet at Hackney Downs station at 8.30am (there is a train at 8.48am). Take the train to St Margarets in Hertfordshire which takes 30 minutes, cycle 25 miles towards Cambridge ...tea break and then back to St Margarets. An out and back route of about 50 miles. If people are interested they could just turn up or preferably let us know through the blog or facebook before Saturday.
Mixing politics and sport can be both good and bad. If the outcome is either positive for the sport or results in a positive political change I don't have a problem with it. So here is my brief foray into politics. If you eat fish, and let's face it there are many positive health benefits that result from including some fish in your diet, then you should watch Hugh's Big Fish Fight. A three part documentary about the fishing industry and the EU laws that govern it. It is pretty shocking stuff! Raising awareness can only be a good thing so that you can make informed choices. If you feel strongly about the subject you can join the Fish Fight here.
See you Sunday morning! Tim (LFTC Coach)
PS. I have entered the Dragon Slayer Duathlon, Thames Turbo Triathlon Race 1 (both London League events) and the New Forest Middle Distance Triathlon. Come join me in the club's racing strip for the London League events!