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Looking for clues: Swimming

This week, we will focus on a strange scientific phenomena - Getting your hands down the centre line under your body.

This is a common, I won't say problem, because many a good swimmer has this trait. However, it is true that most age groupers lose efficiency because they fail to move the water that is under their body. It is extremely difficult to fix in poor swimmers, because the affliction is caused in most cases, through using wider arms strokes to balance in the water and to feel more comfortable.

Another, is the infatuation of most tri coaches with bilateral breathing, that is, one breath on one side and another on the opposite, arms i.e. balancing the body and the stroke. I have heard this many times... This is true, you make severe mistakes now on both arms and side of your body but the good news is you're balanced, slow, but balanced.

For correction: The most successful tool I have used is the cut away paddles. Thus the posts on the TYR paddles called Catalyst... They cut away the surface area of the paddle on the inside, and load extra paddle surface area on the outside of the little finger. This produces the paddle area when pressure is applied to track in, thus forcing the unsuspecting average swimmer to move their arms closer to the centre line without any thought. The paddle shape is doing it for you.

On a lighter note, Over the years I have noticed a very strange situation and Lisbeth has just got me thinking on it again. As she, while being a good swimmer, has her hands pulling wide of the centre line (or used to), and during our whole time together, the one big instruction at every swim work out has been - "Get your hands under your body".

Recently, after the birth of little Astrid, I have noticed that she indeed has both hands under her body, and this is about a 6cm or 3" change in each stroke. In swim terms that is an enormous change!

She maintains she has not given it a moment's thought since she fell pregnant but the facts are that she is swimming better than ever, a fact not lost on her training buddies.

Now here is another weird fact, through my swim career, I had 3 other women that had children while in their sports career who also tracked wide with the arms. After having the child, they all did the same as Lisbeth, coming back with arms under their bodies.

Complete stroke tracking change. All went on to personal bests after the baby. Now, the only thing they all had in common was they kept swimming through the pregnancy, right up to, in one case - Jenny, was swimming and stopped at the end of a set, just like a kid, to say "Coach, I need to go to the bathroom", Jenny said, "Excuse me coach, can I get out, I need to go to the hospital now?". She went on to have the baby 1h20 later. I can't remember if she finished the set later... However, the point is, getting your hands under your body can be helped in these 3 ways:

  1. don't alternate breathing

  2. get a pair of cuttaway paddles, or, if none of the above works

  3. get pregnant and the baby shape will do it for you.

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