Head Position in Backstroke

The fundamentals of backstroke are the same as for freestyle. Although the biomechanics change some when one rotates from the freestyle to the backstroke position, all of the basic laws and forces governing technique remain the same. In other words, we want to reduce frontal drag as much as possible, increase propulsive power as much as possible and try to comply with the law of inertia.


When it comes to reducing frontal drag, one of the most common mistakes made is elevating the head too much. As in freestyle, the elevation of the head creates two problems. It causes the hips and legs to drop down resulting in a bad body position for drag and it increases surface or wave drag by not allowing the bow wave to go over the face.


Head position in backstroke is an example of the conflict between the positions of propulsive power and reduced frontal drag that occur in swimming. For maximum biomechanical propulsive power in backstroke, the head needs to be elevated and the back straightened, while the body rotates from side to side. To reduce frontal drag, the head needs to be laid back with extension of the lumbar spine just enough to allow a small trickle of water to go over the goggles. Fortunately, because the times at which maximum propulsion from the pull and maximum body speed during the stroke cycle occur are different, with respect to both frontal drag and power, one can have his cake and eat it, too.


Frontal drag is exponentially related to the object’s speed, so it is important that the position of lowest drag occurs precisely when the speed is highest and that is when the hand enters the water. At that point, or slightly before, one should be able to see a small stream of water pass over the face. To the backstroker, as opposed to the freestyler, where one cannot tell if the water is going over the back of the head or not, the endpoint is easily discernible by seeing a small amount of water stream over the goggles.


To achieve maximum propulsive power from the arm pull, the backstroker needs to be on his side with the back flexed slightly and the head elevated some. This position of power should occur just a few tenths of a second after the hand enters the water, during what is called the catch phase of the pull.


The different times in the stroke cycle that these two important facts occur to enable the swimmer to move from one position to the other with each stroke taken, taking advantage of the different forces that occur at each position. This slight change from extension to flexion of the lumbar spine essentially requires the same motion as doing a mini-crunch in the water, over and over again. This motion, along with body rotation, requires tremendous core strength to do well and often.


Two of our favorite drills to help establish a good head position for backstroke are kicking in a streamline on the back, allowing the face to go slightly underwater after each breath, followed by swimming backstroke using a similar head motion. The second drill is sculling on the back with arms extended overhead, allowing the face to drop beneath the water after each breath, followed by a swim in a similar head position.

Foam Rollers; Soft tissue work for swimmers

For all Swimmers who need direction using the foam rollers.





The Swim Down – that last few minutes of the session when the hard work is over when you can finally relax and start to think about what you are doing after the session. But do you make the most of your swim down? It should be one of the most important parts of your training.

There are numerous physiological reasons to swim down at the end of every session but there are other advantages that can be gained. As you train your body temperature and heart rate rise and the blood vessels in the muscles expand to allow more blood and hence oxygen to them. During training the body releases chemicals into the bloodstream, such as adrenaline and endorphins, and there is a build-up of waste products in the muscles.

A sudden stop in exercise can cause a rapid drop in heart rate, leading to a fall in blood pressure because of the blood vessels being dilated and the fact that the blood is well distributed around the body. Indeed in these circumstances, it can tend to pool in your legs instead of returning to your heart. This can cause dizziness, nausea and a “worn out” feeling. The levels of adrenaline and endorphins remain high and can cause a feeling of restlessness and even a sleepless night. Equally waste products tend to remain in the muscles and can be a factor in muscle soreness and stiffness after training. In any case, it is not good for anyone to have a rapid decrease in body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure.

The swim down therefore serves two purposes:

  • it reduces your pulse at a rate that helps maintain blood pressure

  • it returns the blood to your heart but keeps the circulation at a rate that allows waste products to be effectively removed from the muscles.


It takes your body approximately 3 minutes to realise it does not need to pump additional blood to your muscles. A safe swim down period is therefore at least 3 minutes but preferably longer. As a very rough rule of thumb a swim down should be about 5 to 10% of the total meterage of a session, although in high intensity or lactate tolerance work it can be beneficial to lengthen the recovery phase of the session as the concentration of lactic acid and other by-products of respiration in the muscles will be relatively higher.

While swimming down there are a couple of other points that can be included to improve the quality of your session. If you’ve been swimming a lot of front crawl or fly, swim some backstroke. This works the joint in the other direction and exercises the opposing muscles. Doing this regularly can prevent, and in the early stages reduce the impact of, an injury.

Swim down is also an ideal time to include stroke work. Drills are well suited to less vigorous swimming and including these in your swim down will also ensure that your body and mind are aware of correct technique even when tired – a vital factor in racing.

All swim downs should, of course, be followed by stretching of the muscles to avoid soreness and tightness.





Tae Hwan Park

It’s often one of the first things children are taught when learning to swim: keep your fingers together and make your hand like a paddle. When the alternative in a beginner is fingers splayed wide apart this can be a sensible approach, but when a greater degree of proficiency is reached and swimmers seek every possible technical advantage from their stroke, is it still valid?

Intuitively it seems like it should be; after all, if you consider your hand working like an oar or a paddle, then those pieces of equipment don’t have holes in, so why should gaps in your hand be a good idea? However, the analogy breaks down partly because rowing in particular has been able to increase their propulsive areas by adopting larger blades, mainly with the move from traditional macon style blades to the now ubiquitous cleaver. It’s not possible to make your hands physically larger, but by keeping your fingers a small distance apart you can make them behave in the water as though they were bigger.

Two scientific studies (linked below), one using physical models and one using computational fluid dynamics both concluded that a small finger spacing with fingers at approximately 10 degrees (equating to a finger spacing at the tip of about 10-14mm depending on finger length) actually allowed an effective increase in propulsive area and hence greater forward force to be generated. This occurs because of the viscosity of water and the turbulent flow through the small gaps between the fingers which prevents a loss of force and means the gaps act more like a solid face.

Conveniently the 10-degree spacing is for most people around the natural relaxed hand position so it requires little thought as to finger position. Added to this, a relaxed hand position has ancillary, if minor, benefits by reducing tension in the forearm. This may help with control of the hand position and reduce muscle fatigue.

The photos to the right show two of the world’s leading freestylers, Fran Halsall and 2008 Olympic 400m champion Tae Hwan Park. At the catch, both can be seen to have relaxed hands with fingers apart. Note however that Park’s fingers come together at the end of his stroke – this may be deliberate or a consequence of the relaxation in his hand allowing his fingers to come together naturally as his arm position and the muscle tension in his forearms change through the stroke.

In conclusion, top swimmers keep their fingers apart and it has been shown to increase propulsive force which makes it worth trying. However, like all things, personal preference counts for a lot so swimmers should try it and settle on what works best for their stroke.





It’s always amazing to me, as a coach, that even when we all know something is good, certain people refuse to practice it daily.

If there’s a question about whether underwater dolphin kicks off the wall are effective, please take a look at NCAAs…and take your pick of DI, DII, or DIII.  While the distance the swimmers use off the wall may vary, there will be very few NCAA swimmers at the national level who aren’t masters at underwaters.

How can an average, every-day, age-group swimmer be expected to practice better underwaters off every wall?  They just have to remember that there are certain times when EVERYTHING is a competition.

For swimmers, it’s actually very easy.  During practice, keep your eyes open when you push off the wall.  Take a peek at the person next to you off each wall.  Who blinks first?  Who takes that first stroke?  Can YOU be the person who, day after day in practice, is the last person swimming?  Can YOU be the one who works the underwaters better than everyone else around you?

These are the skills that you need to practice every day…on every length.   If you wait for that special “underwater-kick day” to work on these skills, you will be left behind.  To become highly skilled at underwater dolphins, you must practice them at every practice, off every wall.  You have to remember that if you become really good at these, you’ll be spending more time underwater, which means less you will be getting less air.  Because of that, this isn’t something you can add at the end of the season.  Rather, it’s something that requires three or four months of training for your body (and brain) to adapt.

The BEST time to start demanding from yourself better underwater dolphins is at the very beginning of a new season.  You don’t have to start by making the 15-meter mark each time.  Think NUMBER of dolphin kicks.  Pick a number and be consistent at doing that NUMBER of dolphins of every wall…no matter what.  If a certain number of dolphins becomes do-able, add another, and be consistent.  Then add another, then another… until you and your coach determine that more dolphins are counterproductive.   You will get to the point where you may either run out of momentum, or run out of air.  You’ll also need to take into consideration what race you’re training for, and what the typical underwater patterns are for the great swimmers for those races.

We’ll keep this simple.  Unless you have great underwaters, you’ll eventually come up against someone who isn’t as good of a swimmer as you, but who won’t need to be because they’ll beat you so bad off the walls.  Why not be the person who has both things: great underwaters and great strokes?

Be the last to swim when looking at all around you every day.  It WILL pay off in the long run.

ASA Long Term Athlete Development Document






For Fly and Breast: Use Your Head



At The Race Club we have always preached to our campers to try to swim smarter. Not that there is any way to swim fast easily, but one can also improve time tremendously by focusing on the minute details of technique, by thinking about the right way to swim, rather than simply doing what might feel correct. When it comes to breaststroke and butterfly, in addition to using your brain for developing the fastest way to kick and pull, one can also benefit from the head in another way.

The adult human head weighs about 12 pounds and overall has negative buoyancy (the brain has neutral buoyancy but the skull has negative buoyancy).  However, since we lift our head completely out of the water on the front-breathing fly and the breaststroke, the weight goes from 12 pounds on the breath to perhaps a pound when it is immersed in the water. How one chooses to use this weight can make a difference in our swimming speed.

Most of the breaststrokers and flyers tend to lay their heads down softly after the breath like they are trying to protect them…a natural instinct. Not only that, they do not allow the head to go down far enough, which is when the chin is at or very near the chest. As a consequence, the head stays in a position of greater frontal drag for a longer time during the stroke cycle.

On the racing dive, when the fingers first touch the water and the body’s speed is around 15 mph, nearly 3 times faster than the men’s 50 meter freestyle world record speed, nearly all swimmers have their chins tucked down to their chests. Frontal drag increases exponentially with speed so getting the head into that position with the streamline seems to reduce the drag as much as possible at that crucial moment. When the head comes down after the breath for the breaststroke or the butterfly, the physics doesn’t change, even though the body speed is less than with the dive. Getting the chin close to the chest is still the best position to reduce frontal drag.

Some of the fastest breaststrokers and butterfliers don’t just lay their heads down into the water softly after the breath, they snap them down quickly and aggressively into the streamlined position. By doing so, they get the head into this desirable position sooner and keep them there longer than by going the slow, gentle route. Further, the additional torque or angular force required to move the head quickly downward creates a larger moment of inertia (angular inertia) timed precisely when the arms and hands are swinging above the water to the sides in butterfly (creating more angular inertia) or rising over the surface moving forward in breaststroke. These combined movements result in the body moving further down the pool along the axis of motion with each stroke.

So after the breath in fly or breast, don’t just lay your head down gently, snap it down to a better-streamlined position and use the added inertia to help get you to the wall first.

– See more at: http://www.theraceclub.com/aqua-notes/swimming-streamline-for-fly-and-breast-use-your-head/?vsmaid=380#sthash.VL0YZg6g.dpuf




Thought for the Day!!

"Be a little better today than you were yesterday. If you do that enough days, you’ve traveled a great distance,”


Creating a Winning Swimming Club Culture

  • Every swimming team has a unique culture.
  • Some teams have a culture of fun, enjoyment, family and friends.
  • Some teams have a culture of hard work, discipline, dedication and training.
  • Some teams are based at schools, colleges and universities and their culture is areflection of the culture of the institution.
  • The culture of some teams comes from their location, the ethnic background of the people in the team, the climate or the city they live and train in.
  • Every team is unique and every culture is special.
  • But for many teams, there comes a time when the coaches, swimmers, families and supporters decide they want to become a winning team. They decide to set some serious competitive goals and work together as a team to achieve them.
  • And to become a winning team requires the development of a winning culture.

What is a winning culture?

It’s about the environment and opportunity.

A winning culture is one where everyone in the team – coaches, swimmers, families, staff – everyone – is committed to creating a performance-focused environment. A performance-focused environment provides the opportunity for the team and every individual on the team – to win.

Developing a winning culture doesn’t mean you stop having fun. It doesn’t mean that swimming isn’t enjoyable. It doesn’t mean that people can’t hang out and be friends.

It means that the primary goal of the team and everyone associated with it is the development of an environment of excellence for everyone.


How do you develop a winning culture?

Empowerment and ownership: culture comes from within:

A winning culture grows from within. It cannot be imposed from the outside. The culture of the team is something which comes from the team members: you own it: it is part of you.

With many clubs, particularly those older established clubs with long traditions, there can be an attitude of “this is the way we do it here” or “that new idea will not work here because we’re different”.

In developing a winning club culture these barriers to success must be broken down. The swimmers, coaches, officials, and families need to embrace change and to seek to be the best of the best in all aspects of swimming. Everyone needs to be committed to improving and accelerating team progress – at the same rate and in the same direction.

Respect the history and tradition of the club.

Respect and remember the great performances of the teams and swimmers of the past. But also strive to progress and improve on them. The greatest honor you can do for any club is to make it successful.


Practical Tip One: Have a Vision

Before the beginning of the season, bring everyone in the team together for a day of sharing ideas and opinions. Give everyone a chance to speak and share their views. Provide an opportunity for everyone to be heard with respect and dignity. Allow the current team members to feel their views matter and the club is theirs – they are the current custodians of the club – and they are the people who will lead the club into a successful future.


Winning vision – a statement of success:

“if you don’t stand for something – you will fall for anything”.

A Team Vision is a statement that represents the views and opinions of the team which clearly states “this is who we are, what we want to do, where we are going and what we want to achieve as a team”. It is your team’s trademark!

For example:

“our vision is to work hard together and to strive to provide every swimmer the best possible opportunity to achieve their best”.


“our vision is to be the leading swim team in the state by consistently working hard, encouraging and supporting each other and doing everything possible to ensure all swimmers in the team have the opportunity to achieve success”.


Practical Tip Two: Be values-based.

Once the team comes up with a team vision, write it up on the team room wall. Have every swimmer write it down in their training diary. Get it printed on t-shirts. The closer you stay in touch with this vision, the more the vision comes to life. The most successful teams in world sport are frequently those who compromised the least on making their vision become a reality.


Winning Culture Values

Having a great vision is one thing: bringing it to life is another.

Values are a set of words that team members develop to provide a guide on how to act and live and which help you and your team realize your vision.

For example:

Team visionour vision is to work hard together and to strive to provide every swimmer the best possible opportunity to achieve their best.


Values to support the Team vision:

  • hard work (“work hard” from the team vision);

  • passion (“strive” from the team vision);

  • team spirit (“together” from the team vision);

  • unity (“every swimmer” from the team vision);

  • respect (“every swimmer” from the team vision);

  • excellence (“best possible” and “best” from the team vision).

These six words become the themes for the team for the season and the guidelines for everything the team does.


Practical Tip Three: Live the Values

Use the values as “code words” for team practices. For example, when things get tough towards the end of a hard set, team members can use words like “passion” and “spirit” to encourage and motivate each other. Living the vision means living the dream.


Winning culture behaviors and standards

In a perfect world, everyone would live the team values, everyday. However, just as there are “road regulations” to provide a set of rules for people to drive cars and “laws” to provide a set of rules for how to live as part of society, swim teams need to have a set of team rules to provide a framework for how to act and behave at training, competition and other team activities.

Team rules or behavior standards need to be developed and enforced by the people the rules and standards apply to:

The swimmers: team rules should grow from the team vision and team values and be a practical set of guidelines for how the team will behave in a range of situations and circumstances.

For example:

  • Team value: unity.

  • Team rule: all swimmers will have equal opportunity to train and compete.

  • Team value: hard work.

  • Team rule: all swimmers who have committed to swimming at national championships next season must complete a minimum of seven sessions per week.

In addition to team rules, a set of consequences for breaking team rules should be developed by the team. These are a set of clear, fair, just, reasonable and equitable “laws” which the swimmers in the team believe best represent how they want to be judged and punished for breaking team rules.

For example:

Team value: respect

Team rule: all swimmers will show respect for each other as people and for each other’s property.

Consequence for breaking team rule: team room cleaning duties for two weeks.


Practical Tip Four: Leadership

Form a leadership group, from team members which can be elected by team members or selected by a panel of team members and coaches. The leadership group should consist of swimmers of varying ages and levels of ability so that the views of everyone are listened to, respected and represented. The leadership group needs to be empowered to make decisions, to implement team rules and to administer the consequences of breaches of team standards of behaviours. From leadership comes culture….from culture comes performance.

Living excellence – “not every four years……..everyday” (US Olympic training centre motto):

Lots of teams come up with great slogans, team visions and cool team rules. But very, very few teams actually develop winning cultures. Why? Because words which say excellence are easy to come up with – what makes the difference is living excellence.:

Develop a team war cry or song which is based on the team values and triggers everyone to start thinking and acting like a winning team.

At the start of every training session, someone in the team should lead the team war cry and everyone joins in signaling the start of training and the commitment the team has made to each other and to excellence.


Practical Tip Five: Keep it relevant – continuous improvement.

Winning once is tough. But a winning culture means you are working to ensure that winning is sustainable – i.e. the culture that you have created is a positive, winning environment which provides ongoing opportunities for swimmers and coaches to perform at their best season after season after season……year after year after year.

It is important that the team sits down at the end of every season and reviews how things went and makes a new commitment to improving, changing and progressing.

Why? Because success in swimming is a moving target. What works this season may not work next season. World records are always getting faster meaning that if you stand still…….you will be left behind.

A simple way of reviewing your performance as a team is to brainstorm the season using three questions:

  • What are we doing that we should keep doing? or what is working?

  • What are we doing that we should stop doing? or what is not working?

  • What are we not doing that we could introduce to improve our performance? or what are some new things we can do that will work?

Ask tough questions, get honest answersand you will lay the foundation for asuccessful future.





  • Creating a culture of excellence and developing a winning culture does not take a lot more money, facilities, time or resources;

  • It takes a common desire to work hard and to create an environment where everyone has the optimal opportunity to perform at their best – consistently;

  • It’s not for everyone – but for some, being part of a winning team which has grown from a winning club culture can be the stuff that swimming dreams are made of.


Swimming and Fitness

Swimming is a pastime enjoyed by many, for some the aim of the game is relaxation, for other’s it’s their preferred method for keeping physically fit. Swimming is one of those exercises that is truly a “total body” exercise. No major muscle groups are left un-worked, you even utilise the muscles in your face when you swim! It is an incredible activity that to some will come easy and to others not so much. Some people really have to work at it, and let’s face it; we won’t all grow up into being Thorpe’s or Phelps’ but the important thing about swimming is that we continue to do it in some form or another. Pound for pound swimming burns more calories that jogging, walking or weight training purely because no part of the body really gets a rest when swimming. The absence of gravity allowing us to float makes us have to completely self propel ourselves through the crystal clear waters. For any of you that like Anatomy & Physiology we require our arms and legs to act as levers and pulleys and in order for this to work efficiently we have to produce incredibly complex patterns of movements of the likes are never seen on other activities. Swimming truly is a special activity.

Within the realms of fitness, swimming can create great changes on the body, muscle hypertrophy (growth), increased flexibility, improved coordination, greater strength and endurance and much more. The major difference however from a physical perspective is that swimming truly is a non-contact sport and injuries are uncommon in the pool, the majority of swimmers injuries now come as a result of their need to cross-train and improve their fitness levels by lifting weights or aerobic classes so make sure that when you decide to expand your training knowledge that you do so correctly and with the proper expertise.

Ben Smith, Assistant Manager, Portlaoise Leisure Centre.


The Sporting Parent



November Dip”n” Dive

Well done to all swimmers who competed in Freestyle and Butterfly swims in our  Dip”n”Dive League. Each swimmer had a max of 3 points available for attandance and Personal Best swim times. On Friday there were a total of 107 swims with 90 Personal Best times achieved, some personal best times were awarded as it was the swimmers first time doing the Dip”n”Dive.

Big Thanks  from all coaches,  to all swimmers who attended, getting points on the League Table.Until next time!!



ATTRIBUTES OF A CHAMPION by coach Dennis Pursley


  1. Recognizing Opportunity. Life is full of opportunities. Many of them come and go because we fail to recognize them. Champions will recognize the opportunities that are presented to them and will take full advantage of them.
  2. Attention to Detail . Detail can be mundane and tedious. A champion knows that the “little things” can make a big difference in the final result.
  3. Willingness to Strengthen our Weaknesses . Most of us are inclined to focus on our strengths and ignore our weaknesses. Champions capitalize on their strengths and focus strongly on eliminating their weaknesses.
  4. Willingness to “Take it to the Limit”  Champions will test the boundaries in the pursuit of excellence.
  5. Embracing a Challenge . Many people shy away from challenge. A champion will embrace it.
  6. Confidence and Focus . A champion will compete with confidence and focus when others succumb to doubts and distractions.
  7. Performing under Pressure . A champion will utilize pressure to enhance rather than suppress performance.  Positive Response to Failure and Disappointment
  8. A champion will respond to failure and disappointment with a fighting spirit and increased determination, while others respond with shattered confidence and despondency.
  9. 9. Superior Preparation…
  10. …begins with a strong work ethic and self discipline.
  11. 10. Uncompromised Commitment
  12. A champion will find a way to do whatever it takes to be the best that he/she can be and avoid the things that will detract from this goal. All choices and decisions will be based on whether they will enhance or inhibit the probability of success.
  13. 11. Strength of Will:
  14. Mental toughness and competitive tenacity.
  15. 12. Staying Positive over the Long Haul:
  16. Realizing that every comment can make a difference.
  17. 13. Perseverance…
  18. …in good times and in bad.
  19. 14. Handling Adversity and Overcoming Obstacles
  20. * Resiliency, flexibility, adaptability.
  21. * “Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall.”
  22. 15. Accepting Accountability and Responsibility
  23. A champion understands that when we refuse to accept accountability and responsibility for our performances, we relinquish control of those performances.
  24. 16. Willingness to Sacrifice:
  25. A “whatever-it-takes” attitude.
  26. 17. Recognizing that we are a part of something bigger than our individual aspirations
  27. A unified effort will always accomplish more than the collective efforts of a group of individuals.
  28. 18. Service
  29. * Focus on our neighbor (teammates) will bring the best out of us.
  30. * “Success is measured not by what you have gained for yourself, but by what you have done for others.”
  31. 19. “Team-first” Attitude and Unconditional Support for the Team
  32. * Support for the team even when we would prefer to do things differently.
  33. * Willingness to make personal sacrifices for the sake of the team (with a smile!).
  34. * Caring about our teammates and our team goals.
  35. 20. Appreciating the Honor and Privilege…
  36. …of representing our country and accepting the corresponding responsibility to do so with class and good sportsmanship–in both wins and losses.
  37. 21. Humility and Gratitude
  38. Recognition that in addition to our own efforts, our success is due to the gifts of talent and opportunity, together with the support of others.
  39. 22. Integrity
  40. Dictionary synonyms: uprightness, soundness of character, moral wholeness, trustworthiness–be a man/woman of your word.
  41. 23. Relentless Commitment to the Pursuit of Excellence
  42. 24. Strength of Character…
  43. …especially when put to the test.
  44. 25. Priorities, Principles and Values
  45. * Consistent with your goals?
  46. * Reflected in your thoughts, words and actions?
  47. 26. Understanding that true greatness is all about performing up to the best of our abilities and striving to become the best that we can be–as an athlete and as a person.
  48. About Dennis Pursley

After getting his start as a volunteer coach on Don Gambril’s first Alabama staff, current Alabama head coach Dennis Pursley has gone on to one of the most extraordinary careers in the sport of swimming, a career that led him to be named one of the 25 most influential people in the history of USA Swimming in 2003.






Your First Swim Gala/Meet!!!!

What to do? What to Wear? What to bring?
First of all: Relax!
Swim meets/gala are a fun learning experience. Getting nervous is normal, but don’t let it ruin the meet. You’re probably the most nervous because you don’t know what to expect. Once you go to your first gala it get easier with each gala after that. Just have fun and go hard. Give your best effort,and you can be proud of your results.

I’m at the meet, now what do I do?
The first thing you do is check in with your coach. You will find that most of the swimmers and parents gather together in one area.
 Talk to your coach – After you   put your gear down near the team, go find your coachs and let them know you are at the meet.
 Warm-up – Your coach will tell you where and when to warm up. They will also tell you what they want you to do.
A scratch sheet has to be entered by coach 30 min prior to first event starting and all swimmers need to check in with coach and if not checked in they will be scratched(taken out of events) as the club is fined for no shows at the line-up.
-Check your event, heat and lane with a coach after heat sheets are given out.
As the meet goes on, the events are seeded(placed according to their times) with everyone checked in being assigned a heat and lane.

After you swim a race
When you’ve finished racing you need to do 3 things,
 Always warm down after you swim if there is a warm down pool. Usually, you warm down until your heart rate returns to normal, and you’re not breathing hard.
your coach tells you exactly how much warm down to do.

  • Talk to your coach. Your coach has things to tell you about your swim.
  • Dry off put on clothes,get a drink and prepare for next race

What do I wear?
Dress warmly, and be prepared for everything! You can always take layers off, but if you didn’t bring enough your body is wasting energy before you race.
Wear your Team T-shirt, sweatshirt, sweat pants,  shoes and socks, hat. Because your stuff looks like everyone else’s be sure to
have your name on all tags.

What do I bring?
In your swim bag you should pack:

  1. At least 2 dry towels  Racing suit
  2. Racing goggles  Team Cap
  3.  Extra suit
  4.  Extra goggles
  5.  Extra team cap
  6.  Extra clothes in a ziplock bag
  7.  Flip Flops
  8.  Tracksuit
  9.  Underwear
  10.  Water, sports drink (ex. Gatorade, Powerade) and/or fruit juices
  11.  Snacks (ex. pretzels, crackers, bagels, fruit, peanut butter, granola bars, cereal, yogurt, sandwiches)
  12.  Book (optional)
  13.  Handheld videogames/Music Devices (optional)

Do I have to wear a Team Cap?
Team Cap  – Yes! It helps us see you in the pool! and builds team spirit.

Things to remember
The coaches are there to watch every swim, so our first priority is to the swimmers in the water. Please be patient when you come over to talk. If we can, we’ll talk to you right away, otherwise, we’ll ask you to wait. For the coaches, the meet is like a 3-ring circus with people coming to ask questions, people in the water, and people coming after swims to get feedback. We can’t go into long discussions about everything.

Leaving the Meet/Gala
After your last event of the day, you are welcome to leave the meet. Please make sure you tell your coach before you leave. If the meet ends in relays, make
sure you are not swimming in a relay before you go. It is very disappointing to the other 3 swimmers to be ready for a relay only to find that the fourth swimmer went home already. Cheer on your team mates in their events, be respectful and supportive of one another.Most importantly enjoy the Gala and fill in your log books with your updated swim times.


Swimming Sets


2 x 50m Choice Stroke(even Pace) R 15 (means rest for 15 seconds)

1 x 100m Freestyle Easy  R 15

1 x 100m Backstroke Easy R 15

2 x 50m Breaststroke Easy R 15



6 x 50m Backstroke single arms with Paddles(arm by side) 10 x left, 10 x right, 10 x full stroke R 20

6 x 50 m Backstroke with fins and paddles 10 kicks with arm held out front just underwater and second arm by side,swap arms every 10 kicks R 20

6 x 100m Freestyle with paddles R 15

10 x 50m alternating lengths Freestyle and Breaststroke R 10

10 x 50m alternating lengths of Backstroke and Butterfly R15



100m Choice Easy

50m Double Arm Backstroke with Breaststroke Legs                                                TOTAL 2750m

Use Fins and Paddles when asked to do so, if you have them if not swim without

Lower the number of repeats if you have time constraints or to difficult for your level of swimming at present.

This is a general Set working on all Strokes

Enjoy Coach Padraic





10 Things To Think About While Training

In the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Athletes, one of the important things swimmers need to do is become engaged during practice. Here are a few more ideas of things to focus on while you battle your way through another “mindless” aerobic workout.

1) Look Down

Everyone jokes about following the black line all practice, but I’ve known plenty of athletes who spent more time looking for the wall than down at the pool bottom. Raising your head out of the neutral position does wonky things with your body position – not to mention it can give you a seriously sore neck after two hours. Relaxing your neck to lower your head may, at first, feel like you’re burying it. Ask a coach or a teammate to tell you if your senses are giving you accurate information. The water line should be about mid-cap on the top of your head, deep enough that when you rotate to breathe, one goggle is easily submerged.

2) Finish Past the Wall

Frequently, sprinters are the only ones who seem to grasp this concept – and only during their fast sets. What’s the difference between finishing well in a fast set and making sure to touch the wall before lifting your head during warm-up? Really, there is none. Your body will do in a race what it has trained to do in practice, and if it has learned two different behaviors in workouts, your body is going to pick the easier one when you’re too dead exhausted to tell it differently.

For distance athletes – maybe most races don’t come down to touch-outs, but how great is it to be able to brag that you out-touched your competition by .01 in the mile? Or, in a race that isn’t supposed to be so close, would you rather explain to coach how lifting your head and gliding on the way in managed to lose you that race by a hundredth?

So here it is – whether it’s reps in warm-up, warm down, hard aerobic work or guns blazing pace sets, drive hard into that wall. It’s not hard to do, and everyone loves down-to-the-wire victory stories. Especially the victors.

3) Where’s Your Hand?

When you’re swimming, can you answer this question? Where do you put your hand in? Where do you lock into your catch on the water, and what’s the pattern of your pull? When you do butterfly do you make a keyhole shape, or do you pull straight down like two simultaneous freestyle arm pulls? Knowing where your hand is in the water can help create a physical awareness that will allow you to make adjustments in a set as you get tired. Know what swimming “right” feels like, so you can keep your body engaged as it gets tired.

Also, building a kinesthetic awareness can help you make changes in your stroke – like if you sweep out too wide in your catch, or cross over underneath your body as you pull. Ask a coach to look at your stroke for suggestions.

4) Count Your Kicks

If you do underwater kick sets, counting your kicks is the surest way to get across the pool without panicking that you are going to drown. There’s just something about knowing that there are only X more kicks to go before you can surface and gulp in sweet air for a few seconds before having to resubmerge and do it again.

Counting doesn’t just help with kick sets though – knowing how many kicks you take off each wall in a race can help you prepare in practice to become better. Experiment – do you swim faster with a few more kicks? Or fewer? Once you know your number, try to maintain it off every single wall. If you’re doing repeat 200s, make sure that the last wall has the same (or more!) kicks as the first wall. If you don’t count, you won’t know.

5) Count Your Strokes

Along the same vein as counting your kicks, counting your strokes provides a good idea of where you are in the pool, and how your training compares to your racing. If you are practicing at race pace and you know you take 15 strokes a length, but today you’re hitting 19, think about holding onto more water, and maybe slowing the arms down a little. If you usually are at 15 and today it’s only taking 13 strokes to cross the pool, see if you can decipher what’s different. Are you going slower? Are you going faster? Are you taking more kicks off the wall than usual? Are you holding onto water better? Knowing what you are doing in practice is a good way towards becoming your best self.

6) What’s Your Time?

While at one point or another, we all want to kill the clock because the sendoff approaches too soon, or time stops and practice takes forever, the clock is a tool for you. Use it. Know your times – on everything. I know my splits for a warm-up 300. That’s probably overkill. However, knowing how fast your easy is will give you an idea of where you stand before the workout even begins for the day. You might feel crappy in the water, but if you look at the clock during warm-up and see you’re cranking out 1:05s on easy 100s – maybe despite how you’re feeling, your body is ready to go today!

The other part of this is remembering your times. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard coaches ask their athletes, “What’s a good time for you on this set?” and all they get is a shrug in response or a wild guess after a minute’s hesitation. Don’t be that athlete. Know that a 30 second 50 breast might be outside your range on: 40, but that you can cruise: 28 freestyle 50s on that same interval without breaking a sweat.

7) Turns

Do not look up when you start a turn. Do not raise your head. Do not grab the wall and try to climb to the ceiling before giving up and resubmerging to push off dejectedly in the other direction. Turns are like finishes for many people – we’ve got so many of them during practice that we just sort of tune them out. In some aspects, turns are worse because there are so many more. That’s good news as well as bad. Because there are so many turns, and because we get sloppy in long sets where we’d rather think about the latest gossip on Facebook or what’s for dinner, often we train our bodies to be sloppy where turns are concerned. Heads raised, feet crossed one-handed open turns – all sloppy. All fixable. Because there are so many turns, if you think about them all the way through that set of 12 x 200, in the space of one set, you can begin to make a difference in your swimming. Pretty cool, huh? The downside is that to keep any alterations you make you’ll have to keep thinking – for a lot of practices until the changes take hold and your body forgets how bad it once was in light of how good it has become.

8) Breakouts

Ever heard another athlete tell her coach that she could have had a great 100 fly, but her breakouts were bad? Got caught underwater, kicked too far so her feet were breaking the surface, lost momentum, just plain stopped in the water.

Don’t be that swimmer. When you’re dealing with breakouts, some sort of speed is key. Gliding to the surface is not okay. Off every wall, you have a chance to figure out what the best way for you to begin swimming is. Coaches can give excellent pointers on things like this one.

9) What’s the Point?

Usually, I don’t condone asking questions during practice, but if you’re really stuck for things to think about, this question can sometimes work wonders. Occasionally a coach will ask you to do something that sounds ridiculous. Maybe it’s a 200 of backward swimming. Maybe it’s a butterfly with a freestyle kick. Maybe you’ll spend twenty minutes swimming in circles without touching the wall – whatever it is, sometimes asking what the point of a crazy notion is, is a good idea. Knowing what you should be striving to accomplish in the set is part of the point, after all – no good going through the motions if you won’t be able to gauge your own success!

But don’t ask questions when it’s an aerobic set you want to get out of. You won’t escape.

10) Eavesdrop

If you’ve run out of things to think about in practice, then this little nugget might get your brain going again. Listen to what your coach tells other athletes. Think about your own stroke, and whether you are doing what your coach is asking someone else to do. This one requires a lot of control: if Coach tells Swimmer A he needs to stop reaching so far on his freestyle and you take the advice, you may not be getting from it what Swimmer A would (if he turned his brain on and listened). Maybe your freestyle arms are already right. The point of eavesdropping is trying to gain nuggets to compare to your own technique and see if there are areas where you might be able to improve. But check with your coach before making any radical changes!

Thought for the day !!!

Know the difference between good pain and bad pain.Good pain is usually the soreness you feel after hard training session.Embrace the good pain because it is telling your body you will become stronger and faster.


Observation from Age Group Practice.

We could all literally do this every day. When you just sit back and observe the daily actions of age-group swimmers, there are always things that you’d like to see being done differently. Here’s a quick list from last night:

Show desperation to get in when you show up late – We all understand things happen, especially in New York City. How many places can kids use the excuse “the subway was running behind?” While it can be a valid excuse, the idea that you walk in slowly and relaxed, while your entire team is in the water already training… isn’t the best way to show your coach that you’re sorry you’re missing something. Hurry in, rush to put your goggles on, and find out what you’re doing from your teammates…not from the coach. Just get in.

Don’t stop in the middle of the length – No matter WHO is on your feet, don’t stop in the middle of the length when someone taps you. Again, putting things into NYC terms for the kids, IF you’re the one that stops, you’re like the car on the FDR highway that uses its brakes too much. You mess up the flow. Each person behind you then has to hesitate, brake, stop, and now we have a traffic jam. Don’t stop until you get to the end of the pool, at the wall, and then… only do a slow turn while the person who is tailgating you can get by quickly.

Use a smaller kick when using fins – Don’t let the larger surface area fool you. Keep the knees in check and, if you’re on your back, keep the knees under or just touching the surface. Feel the kick coming from the abs, the core, not from the thighs. Many young swimmers miss this point, and try to push those fins through the water with a bigger knee kick rather than a small, consistent drive from the middle of the body.

Drive the stroke forward when using fins – Obviously, we did a fin set last night. If you have fins on, take the opportunity to stay longer, driving the front of the stroke through the water in a great, extended position. Try not to take the same number of strokes you typically do… or at least try not to keep the same rate that you typically do. At least the focus of our set was extension and drive, but many of the swimmers were just using the fins to go a bit faster, rather than learning the feeling of driving forward with the kick.

Perform better streamlines – Could this be added to ANY post about how to swim better? I think the answer is absolutely. Coaches seldom sit back and say… WOW… the entire group looks stunning leaving the walls. Yet, that’s the goal. Swimmers can always do just a little better on this, until they’re running up against the 15 yard/meter mark off every turn.

Self monitor your distance off the wall – This goes with the last point. Especially in your home pool, KNOW where you’re supposed to come up, and examine where you usually DO come up. If you check the distance you travel off the wall in warm-up, before you’re hurting, and then check it in the middle of a tough set, you may notice that you’re missing huge opportunities for improvement on EVERY wall. Challenge yourself to get as close to your mark as often as possible… even if it’s difficult to do.

Show desperation to continue – If you’re swimming with a pull buoy, paddles, goggles, kickboard… any piece of equipment… and it falls off, drops off, or leaks… don’t just stop. Treat EVERY length of a set as if you were in a race. Imagine that you’re in your championship final at the end of the season. You dive in, and your goggles start to leak. Do you stop? Do you swim back to the wall? Absolutely NOT! You panic, you do whatever you can to rip them off and keep going. Sometimes you just let them leak, but you don’t stop. How come in practice if there is any slight problem with equipment, swimmers use that as an excuse to stop and fix it. Fix it at the end of the set, or between intervals. Show that you’re going to do anything you can to get through the set, and if there’s an equipment failure, you have to remember… YOU are the most important equipment, so focus on that.

Be honest with yourself – You know what you’re capable of. You know if you’re making mistakes, or if you’re trying to get away with something. You know if you’ve pulled on the lane line, if you’ve taken a breath inside the flags on the finish, or maybe even NOT finished. If you become even a little bit aware of what you’re doing, then you have to be honest with yourself about how you’re training. You have to understand that YOU are responsible for your success. While your coach makes suggestions, encourages, gives sets they think will help make you better… if you don’t apply proper practice techniques, it will be your fault if you don’t swim fast.

Remember who the most important person on the team is – While there will only be ONE “best” swimmer on the team, the person that ranks the highest nationally, or internationally… to you, there is only ONE most important swimmer in the pool. It’s YOU! Take your space in the lane, and make it your own. Understand what interval YOU’RE supposed to leave on, don’t just follow. Finish AT the wall even if there are already 6 people sitting there. Make the pool your own, the practice your own, the team your own, but don’t forget… you’ll be better if you encourage the people around you to be better. Don’t be a greedy, stingy, self-centered team of one. Know that no matter how fast, how big, how old, EVERY swimmer in the pool deserves his or her space in that pool, and no one is more important than the other… so make room and respect all.

How To Improve Your Underwater Dolphin Kick
If you’ve watched Olympic backstrokers compete, you were probably blown away by their extremely powerful underwater dolphin kicks. The flexibility in their hips and knees looks almost inhuman. Trying to mimic these kicks can often feel impossible.
If you’re having trouble mastering underwaters, don’t feel too discouraged! One of the many reasons why they’re referred to as “The Fifth Stroke” is because they’re so difficult. They’re also important: Improving dolphin kicks can drastically improve your overall time in meets, and efficiency in practice. If you want to make your underwaters more powerful, check out the following tips.
Faces of Swimming …
Ryan Lochte
Height: 6 feet, 2 inches
Weight: 190 pounds
Date of Birth: August 3, 1984
Strokes: Backstroke, Individual Medley, Freestyle

Getting to know Ryan Lochte: Lochte won gold at the Beijing Olympics in the 200-meter backstroke. Contributing to his success were his dominant underwaters. He’s so fascinating that crowds have gathered to watch him demonstrate underwaters. For fun, Lochte swam 50 meters underwater for time: He swam it in 20.8 seconds. Many college swimmers don’t swim regular freestyle that fast in yards!

Use Your Body
When you think of kicking, you might assume that you use solely your legs. On the contrary, you should engage your whole body as you kick.
Why Use Dolphin Kicks

One of the fastest parts of a race is right after a turn when you push off the wall. After you push off the wall, you usually kick to maintain speed. To speed up your underwaters, try out dolphin kicks instead of flutter kicks. Dolphin kicks are generally far more powerful in a race.
Flutter kicks, although quick, do not increase speed off the wall as much as dolphin kicks. Dolphin kicks are a lot more powerful, and incorporate more of your body than just the legs.
Keep Your Core Tight

While practicing dolphin kicks, always keep your core tight. This will hold your shoulders still while you propel yourself with the bottom half of your body. Keep your arms completely still. As you push off the wall, tighten your stomach, straighten your back, and concentrate on having a relatively low Amplitude kick.

If you have a large amplitude kick, then you’re increasing the distance of your swim. Think about it: Swimming in a wavy line is a much longer distance than swimming a straight line. Tightening your core will move your body directly forward, rather than up and down.
Practice on Your Back

Dolphin kicks are easier on your back. If you’re having trouble learning proper technique with your dolphin kicks, flip over and practice on your back. You can keep your core tighter while maintaining movement in your body.

Feel a Ripple
Sometimes people kick very rigidly on their dolphin kicks. Instead of having a jerky movement with a pause at the end of the downward kick, try to keep your feet moving. As soon as your feet finish the downward movement, start to move them upward. The kicks should be fluid. You should feel a flow from your hips to your toes.

Speed Up
Hot Tip: Practice with Fins
In order to speed up the kick, practice with fins. Not only will this help you get the hang of the quick, fluid motion you need, but it will also strengthen your muscles for powerful underwaters. Fins will specifically help build the muscles in your ankles, calves, and core.
Many swimmers try to have large, slow dolphin kicks as they leave the wall. The dolphin kicks should be quick. Try to control the amplitude of the kick so you can speed it up. If you watch Olympians, their feet are almost a blur because they kick so fast. Watch it in slow motion, though, and you’ll see both the amplitude and fluidity of their kicks.

The Right Size Kick
Sometimes it’s hard to determine the right amplitude the kick should be. Trying to maintain a “relatively low amplitude kick” can seem vague. Since everyone is built differently, every swimmer’s kick will be slightly different. In this case, you need to feel it out.

Too Big

If the kick is too big, you will feel powerful. At the same time, though, you’re likely creating too much resistance this way. Ultimately, you’re exerting a lot of effort without moving forward that quickly. You’ll waste time and effort without much payoff.
Too Small

If the kick is too small, you will feel fast. However, you won’t be pushing enough water to efficiently propel yourself. Even though you’re moving quickly, the kicks are still not as powerful as they can be.

Find a Balance

In order to have the most proficient kick, you’ll have to find a middle-ground between the two. You need to find a way to incorporate both power and speed. Play around with the kick and try out different techniques.
Start with a really large kick. Time yourself to see how long it takes to reach your break out point. Just make sure that you’re breaking out at the same place each time. This way you can keep track of your time accurately. Then, kick as small as you can and time yourself again. After you’ve done this a few times, make adjustments to the kick and observe what helps decrease your time.

Practice Makes Perfect
Now that you know how underwaters should look and feel, try them out. Practice different amplitudes of the kick, and see what feels best. With a little practice and adjustments, you’ll be kicking better in no time!

Eating During Competitions

When preparing to compete at a swimming competition you need to pay careful attention to what you eat. Read on to find out what to eat the day before the event and during the day.

When competition time comes round, you’ll have plenty on your mind already. So the day before the event, keep exercise to a minimum – if anything at all – and eat meals and snacks high in complex carbohydrates. You need to keep those glycogen stores topped up.
Drink fluids little and often to stay properly hydrated.
Eat little and often – every two to four hours to keep your blood sugar levels steady and fuel your muscles in preparation for your event.
Avoid big meals or over-eating in the evening – this will almost certainly make you feel uncomfortable and lethargic the next day.
Try to stick to familiar foods. Curries, spicy foods, baked beans and pulses (unless you are used to eating them) can cause gas and bloating, so avoid eating anything that may cause stomach discomfort the next day. It’s best to stick to foods that you are familiar and compatible with!

Don’t swim on empty. Even if you feel nervous, make breakfast happen. Stick to easily digested foods – cereal with milk, porridge, banana with yoghurt, some fruit or toast with jam.
If you’re really struggling, try liquid meals such as milkshakes, yoghurt drinks or a smoothie.
It’s a good idea to rehearse your competition meal routine in training so you know exactly what agrees with you.

Try to eat as soon as possible after your swim to give yourself as long as possible to recover if you have to swim again.
High fat and simple sugar foods will do you no favors in competition – instead search out the complex carbohydrates again.
If you can’t stomach anything solid try sports drinks, flavored milk or diluted juice that will help replenish your energy supplies and assist the recovery of aching muscles.
The list below offers great food options to be snacking on in and around training for a competition. Remember to keep eating healthy foods from your regular diet though, such as fresh vegetables, nuts, and fruits.

Here are some more you can try
Water, diluted fruit juice with a pinch of salt or a sports drink
Pasta salad
Plain sandwiches e.g. chicken, tuna, cheese with salad, banana, peanut butter
Bananas, grapes, apples, plums, pears
Dried fruit e.g. raisins, apricots, mango
Crackers and rice cakes with bananas and/or honey
Mini-pancakes, fruit buns
Cereal bars, fruit bars, sesame snaps
Yoghurt and yoghurt drinks
Small bags of unsalted nuts e.g. peanuts, cashews, almonds