Your weakest link?
Biologists like me are taught to consider all of the factors influencing a system and then rank them in order of importance in terms of positive and negative influence. In the case of negative influence, this is like looking for the weakest link in a chain. This method can also be applied to swimming races. Having watched most of the SWSC competitors in action at the recent Dolphin Open I would identify turns as the weakest link of races for most of you. This is a general observation. There are a few who are very good at turns. As you all know there are few things more depressing in competitive swimming than going into a turn ahead and coming out behind.
Turns are supposed to speed you up! That is why short course (25m pool) records are faster than long course (50m) records. Look up the World or Irish SC and LC records and you will see what I mean (you can find them through the Swim Ireland website). Traditionally USA swimmers have very good turns. Several years ago the coaches to British Team realised that they were less good at turns and made a huge effort to improve. At top level they now turn much better. Turning well takes three things- knowing what to do, concentration and lots of practice.
Do you know exactly what you are trying to do in each turn? Assuming you do (and ask your coach if not), do you practice it in every turn you do. The senior squad cover more than 6000m in a two hour session. In a SC pool that’s nearly 200 turns so you’ll get plenty of practice provided you do each and every turn as well as possible, whether you’re doing short rest aerobic sets or sprints. Your coaches have talked with you about the specific mechanics of each kind turn (front or back tumbles, open turns in fly or breaststroke, the various IM turns) but there are certain factors common to all turns: go in fast, turn fast and get off the wall fast, and of course keep it legal. As Richard repeatedly tells you, kick hardest into and out of the wall. On the way in DO NOT look at the wall. Turns are timed off the T in free, fly and breaststroke, or off the flags on backstroke. Turn fast and tight. Plant your feet in the right position (too high will send you to the bottom and too low to the surface). Push as hard as possible (this is the fastest part of your race apart from the start) then really streamline from finger tips to toes. The idea is to maintain the speed into the surface swim. Do you know what’s best underwater for you? How many fly kicks should you do on anything except breaststroke (where the rules say-one). Is your breakout to the surface smooth and fast? Younger swimmers often mess up the breakout and nearly stop. That’s a lot to think about! Then you have to practice and practice so you can turn smoothly and effectively without having to think about it.
You are obviously not able to practice in the pool at present but at least four other things are involved-agility, flexibility, core strength and leg power. All of these can be greatly improved on land. So work hard on your land conditioning then you can go back into the pool ready to turn much better. How about SWSC being known for having the best turns in the country?
Plan your time
These are strange times. Everything including swimming has stopped to protect the more vulnerable people in the community. Normally your time is very organised with school or college, and for most older swimmers in SWSC, at least one two-hour session each day. Your schools or colleges are doing a lot of online teaching and assessment, but what about the missing swimming? I would urge that you plan your days and weeks. You must take over the organisation of your time. With a plan in place you’ll find you feel a lot better! The first thing to list is when you’ll get up, your mealtimes and when you’ll go to bed. Try to keep these constant from day to day. Next-how many hours each weekday you are going to devote to academic activities. Read the stuff you were going to get in lessons or lectures. Paradoxically, you may make better progress than when you are actually in school or college.
In terms of swimming- what can you do? Here I’m going to talk in general. Richard and his coaching team, with help from some of the senior swimmers, will be sending you the details of exercise regimes. While obviously you will be missing out on developing specific pool fitness, you can keep up general aerobic fitness by running or cycling for about 30minutes a day. Cycling is particularly good for breast strokers. The Russians insist that their top breast strokers cycle everywhere. You may have access to exercise bikes or threadmills, and these can also be built into fitness training and substitute for outside activities when it’s pouring with rain.
Also don’t forget to walk in the open air. You’ll sleep much better. While you not in the pool you will also need less food, probably about 30% less (and resist the urge to snack!). In this way you will have retained some basic aerobic fitness during this layoff and be quickly able to regain water fitness when you are able to get back to training. So far we have been talking about minimising losses but there are certain things that you can improve on compared with normal times. These relate to power (fast strength or explosiveness) and flexibility, and these can be improved with good land programmes. You never have enough time for these you’re in the water, so now is your chance.
Increased power means better starts and turns! Assess the equipment available to you-barbels, dumbells, weight machines, rubber pulleys, Mini Gyms, even swim benches. Most modern S & C coaches feel that pulleys and swim benches are redundant if you’re doing enough water work (not sure I agree) but they are ideal in the present circumstances because you can accurately mimic swimming actions. If none of these aids are available to you, you can use body weight as Richard and his team will demonstrate, and as you will see from Paul Talty of Swim Ireland and many other web sources. There are also many effective flexibility exercises that you can do. Your aim should be to finish this lockdown period more powerful and flexible than ever. Do a series of exercises every day and be patient. You will see the results in a few weeks. And remember, if you go too hard you will end up sore and disillusioned, so build up gradually.
So much for your swimming body. You can also work on your swimming mind! Watch the daily GoSwim videos (you also have free access to all the previous videos at present). Don’t necessarily accept all you see. Be analytical. Ask-“would that work for me”? Also have a think about the various aspects of your technique on all strokes-starts, turns, finishes, UW and surface swimming. Do you know exactly what you are trying to do? How might you improve? This is called mind modelling. Finally, did you know that you are probably addicted to swimming because of all the training, and feel less good when you are out of the water. I know I still love swimming a few times each week and miss it. Just be aware of this and try to counter it by organising to fill your days!
Tom Cross, SWSC President
The SWSC Committee held a meeting by teleconference on 14 Mar 2020 to discuss the Club’s response to COVID-19. As you are aware, the Gus Healy Pool, Douglas and Leisureworld Pool, Bishopstown are closed until 29 March. As a consequence, and in accordance with Government, HSE and Swim Ireland guidelines, all Club activities are suspended. We will review the situation again in two weeks time or earlier as appropriate. Further updates will be communicated on the Clubs website and appropriate WhatsApp groups. Please mind yourselves and looks after family, friends and neighbours where you can.
SWSC travelled to the Munster Development 2 Meet in Mallow on March 1st with a total of 13 swimmers.
All the hard work in training Paid off as PB after pb was achieved and some lucky enough to achieve Regional Qualifying times to swim in the upcoming Regional Qualifying Meet which will be held in UL in April.
A total of 12 medals, 5 Gold, 2 Silver, and 2 Bronze were won overall.
Impressive performances on the day came from Mia Dowling O Mahony who out of 4 events won Gold( 100 Fly) Silver( 100 free) and Bronze( 200 free)
Jenna Mc Ardle also impressed in the pool achieving a Silver (200 free) and Bronze(100 IM)
Helen McCarthy took 2 Gold medals in the( 100 IM) and the( 100 breaststroke)
Conor Moynihan not to be out done by the girls had good swims and won 2 Bronze in the( 100 Fly) and the( 200 IM)
Other medal winners on the day were Dylan Gunn Gold (100 IM) Beth McKnight Bronze (100 back) and Conal Gillard Gold (200 free)
Well done to all the swimmers and thanks as always to the parents who were officials and team managers on the day.
Great job everyone
Coach Kelly Gallagher
Congratulations to all SWSC swimmers representing UCC at the recent Irish Inter-varsities competition in UL.