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Zonfeld
August 17th, 2008, 05:16 PM
I only started swimming freestyle less than a year ago and I'm still struggling with quite a few issues:
1. When breathing to the left, my head head-spine alignment vanishes and it appears as if I'm trying to change direction while lifting my head; I have no clue why I might be doing that.
2. I over-rotate when breathing.
3. Even with a slow hand entry, there's a lot of splashing going on.

In the answers to a few other posts I read that videos help, so I've put a few online:

Back/front view:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YF-fO26fVP8&fmt=18

Right side view:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iS7yEZIEog&fmt=18

Left side view:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUCdYP6G__8&fmt=18

In general, breathing in freestyle is problematic for me. When I swim relaxed enough to breathe with ease, my form totally degenerates and I'm wiggling through the water, almost flipping on my back when breathing. If I focus on a certain aspect of my stroke, for example, keeping my chin close to the shoulder or reaching out when rotating to air, or synchronizing my kick with my stroke, I find that I build up so much oxygen debt that I cannot swim more than two lengths in a 50 m pool without pausing.
I can only guess why--I probably forget to breathe out with sufficient force because I'm busy with other things and when I realize that I need more air than I'm currently getting, anxiety kicks in and everything falls apart.

I'll happily accept any comments on my videos or general advice that might help me not drown and maybe even improve my stroke. :)
Thank you!

LindsayNB
August 17th, 2008, 07:43 PM
You are definitely over-rotating, you can see it most clearly in the fourth attached image.
I am guessing that your goal stroke is as shown here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ENDX_e7aRg
When you breath only one eye should come out of the water, you should be looking at the edge of the pool not the ceiling/sky, see the second attached image.
You might try either dragging your fingertips along the top of the water or the zipper drill to get a better recovery, your hand seems to me to be too high on the recovery, possibly either as a result of or contributing to your over-rotation.

geochuck
August 17th, 2008, 07:49 PM
Head too low in the water. When you breath in your mouth is right in your arm pit. You are looking back when you breathe, can you see the wall that you have left when you pushed off. I fear that you have taken TI just a little too far. Your body fishtails.

Zonfeld
August 18th, 2008, 04:52 AM
Thank you for your input, Lindsay and geochuck!


You are definitely over-rotating, you can see it most clearly in the fourth attached image.
I am guessing that your goal stroke is as shown here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ENDX_e7aRg
I would be quite content with that stroke; I guess that is my goal stroke.


When you breath only one eye should come out of the water, you should be looking at the edge of the pool not the ceiling/sky, see the second attached image.I'll follow your advice and try looking at the side of the pool when breathing. I just fear that the only thing above the water will be the one goggle while the mouth remains submerged. ;)


You might try either dragging your fingertips along the top of the water or the zipper drill to get a better recovery, your hand seems to me to be too high on the recovery, possibly either as a result of or contributing to your over-rotation.I hadn't realized that my hand was too high but I'll try to fix that with the prescribed fingertip drag drill.


Head too low in the water.
I'm not keeping the head that low on purpose. I realize that the back of my head should clear the water; it just never happens. I probably have to work on keeping my neck straight but maintaining that requires a lot of effort.


When you breath in your mouth is right in your arm pit.I'm not sure how to fix the breathing into my armpit. By breathing earlier?


You are looking back when you breathe, can you see the wall that you have left when you pushed off.I'm not looking back; does my head position indicate that I do?
I usually see the sky above me, maybe a few treetops through peripheral vision. If I want to see the wall behind me, I have to concentrate on looking back over my shoulder.


Your body fishtails.Had you seen the amount of fishtailing a few months ago, you'd praise me for being so calm in the water now. :D
I'm working on the fishtailing by strapping my ankles together and swimming one-arm freestyle.
Swimming with one arm is quite hard because I cannot get the breathing right - I rotate even more. I might have to do more of that drill until it feels natural.

tomtopo
August 18th, 2008, 10:28 AM
I noticed that both hands but the left is more notorious as it move toward the midline immediately after the extension of your arm. I would consider that a propulsive flaw that you may consider correcting. Your hand will move toward the midline of the body very naturally but only does so after it sets-up. You'll need to start your stroke very differently and that will take more than a few weeks to correct. Watch the following clips and then have someone video tape you swimming toward them so you can compare.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ub-_LlqR23g&search=ian%20thorpeFirefoxHTML\Shell\Open\Command

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtfpfTUVWw0&feature=related

You can also go to youtube and type in EVF + Swimming and see a host of videos on the topic.

Good luck, Coach T.

LindsayNB
August 18th, 2008, 02:33 PM
Here's a youtube video showing Thorpe breathing:
Ian Thorpe swimming freestyle 3 - breathing (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcCP_SLvNgw)

I've attached a frame that shows the typical head position, a little bit of the second goggle is visible but the head is facing the side rather than facing upward. Compare it to the second attached image of you above.

I think your fishtail will go away naturally as you fix your roll.

I looked for the inward movement of the arm after the extension that Tom mentioned, you can see it most clearly at the 45s mark of the video in which you swim directly toward the camera, the fourth image above is from this point, just after it has moved to the center. It entered and extended nicely at about shoulder width but then as you rotate it moves inward along with your shoulder. Again, I think this is due to the overrotation.

In the left to right video you have a bit of a scissor kick where your legs separate quite a bit when you are on your side. I don't think you want that much amplitude in your kick when you are just swimming slowly, you just want a small amplitude flutter. Again, I think the wide kicks are to balance your overrotation.

In summary, I think if you can work on getting your breath with less rotation several issues with your stroke will clear up, at which point you could take another video for further analysis.

geochuck
August 18th, 2008, 03:23 PM
Most of your breaths are taken with you looking into your armpit. I would suggest looking at the side wall similar to Thorpe picture that Linsay posted.

Zonfeld
August 18th, 2008, 05:07 PM
You can also go to youtube and type in EVF + Swimming and see a host of videos on the topic.

Thank you! I found quite a few videos and will add another item to my list of stroke defects I need to fix.


In summary, I think if you can work on getting your breath with less rotation several issues with your stroke will clear up, at which point you could take another video for further analysis.

Everything you say makes total sense and I will primarily work on my over-rotation before I move on to the finer points.
I experimented with the head position at the pool today but once again found out that what I thought I was doing and what I was actually doing are two completely different things. I thought I was looking at the side of the pool with my shoulder quite close to my face and therefore low and less rotated. The truth is that the change in head position was almost unnoticable but the shoulder rotation was even more extreme, as if I were doing some kind of bizarre stretching exercise.
I was too occupied with trying to see the pool wall and still getting some air and probably hoped my rotation was reduced instead of having real control over it.
Nobody said it would be easy... If I didn't love swimming so much, I'd probably hate it. :)


Most of your breaths are taken with you looking into your armpit. I would suggest looking at the side wall similar to Thorpe picture that Linsay posted.

I will do that--or drown trying. :)

Thank y'all for your feedback! I really appreciate that you're taking the time to analyze my problems and provide solutions.

LindsayNB
August 19th, 2008, 04:45 PM
I was thumbing through a book of drills while watching the Olympics last night, trying to find something to address overrotation. The problem most people have is underrotation so I didn't find anything explicitly aimed at reducing overrotation.

I downloaded your video and watched frame by frame and one thing I noticed, which George pointed out earlier, is that you swim very low in the water, your head only breaks the surface when you breath and there are points where no part of your body is breaking the surface. This no doubt is contributing to your feeling you have to rotate your head and therefore body so far to breath.

One note I saw in the drill book was that if you have trouble getting a breath try swimming faster! I've attached another image showing you and Mr. Phelps at a similar point in your stroke. Note not only that he isn't rotated nearly as far but also that he is pushing a wave, and breathing in the trough behind that wave. You aren't swimming fast enough to create that wave. Furthermore, since your entire head is underwater, any wave you do create will be in front of your shoulder, right where you are going to try to breath.

So, one thing you might try is picking up that kick to give you a little more speed, and pick up your tempo a little, that alone should lift you a little higher in the water and also create a little bow wave and trough to breath into.

For fun, in a deep pool get into a vertical position with your arms at your sides, and see where your water line is. How much of your head is above water? Now try lifting one arm above your head and see what level you float at. During your arm recovery the weight of your arm is going to push your body down into the water in a similar manner unless there is some counteracting upward force, and the slower you go the more it will sink you.

I am not sure but at some points I got the impression that your lead arm when extended directly in front of you is actually pointing somewhat downward, which could contribute to your low body position, you might like to try experimenting with trying to get that hand right up near the surface and see if that makes any difference.

Another thing that you could experiment with is a rotary timing where you start the catch as the other hand finishes the pull/push rather than waiting for the recovering hand to move forward. To experiment with that you can pause at the end of your pull where you have one arm extended straight out front the other at your side and then concentrate on starting the catch and the recovery at the same time. After some practice with that you can slowly eliminate the pause to produce a continuous stroke. I am not saying you should switch to this style of swimming, just that you may learn something from trying it as a drill.

This video of Popov shows rotary timing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIzBaSiWdRA

Finally, while I am not generally a fan of head-up freestyle as a drill, in your case it might be instructive to give it a try and see what happens. It might lessen your rotation, and you might have to swim faster to make it work. The adjustments you have to make may give you hints on how to adjust your regular stroke.

Slightly less extreme, you could try swimming with the water at your hairline - as a drill not as something to achieve in your regular stroke. Again, look for what adjustments you need to make to get your head up, and then see if you can use them in your regular stroke.

Lump
August 19th, 2008, 04:54 PM
Extend a line from the middle of your body straight out past your fingers when you swim. Your hands should never cross this point at anytime when you swim freestyle. There are tons of freestyle stroke drills that I can give. Emphasize your hand extension and shoulder roll as much as possible while keeping your lower body straight. Explaining them maybe take a more in-depth post:

Drag fingertip drill (works on high elbows)
Catchup drill (six beat kick)
Opposite side breathing (extension)
3 second freestyle (rolling & breathing)

geochuck
August 19th, 2008, 05:12 PM
I also believe if you finish on mid thigh you will find the body will ride higher.

Zonfeld
August 20th, 2008, 06:08 AM
Wow! That is quite a number of things to work on. Thank you so much!
I actually did make a list that I'm taking to the pool and it's getting longer. I will let you know what results the individual experiments and drills produce.

Just a side note:
I did a number of experiments yesterday before reading your new posts. For example, I tried not kicking at all, extending the leading arm more, synchronizing a 2-beat kick with the stroke, dragging my fingertips through the water, breathing to one side only, and a few other things...
The only time I achieved a (desirable) noticeable effect was when I focused on actively keeping the shoulder on the breathing side down (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LltajxtcsPQ&fmt=18). However, even though the difference is minimal, it drastically narrows the time slot for breathing, which makes it even more challenging.


I am not sure but at some points I got the impression that your lead arm when extended directly in front of you is actually pointing somewhat downward, which could contribute to your low body position, you might like to try experimenting with trying to get that hand right up near the surface and see if that makes any difference.

It is true, I'm deliberately keeping my arm low because that's supposed to reduce strain on the shoulder and help with balance. That sounded plausible so I followed that advice.
I will try as you suggest; that is item number 5 on my list. :)

tomtopo
August 20th, 2008, 08:10 AM
The following videos of some dry-land drills and some swimmers may help you. Good luck

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEQTxN854uk&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KV_5-rkTq2E&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENgIRfj1l4c&feature=related

waves101
August 20th, 2008, 08:37 AM
I suggest a "back to basics" drill. Facing the pool wall, put both hands on the wall, shoulder width apart. Get in swimming position (without moving the hands). Kick so that you're holding yourself in swimming position and breathe naturally to the side. Do this to get the feel of it. By holding the wall, you will not be able to over-rotate. Once you get the "feel", try it while swimming. Repeat as necessary.

geochuck
August 20th, 2008, 10:17 AM
As far as I am concerned don't try the complete fix at one time.

Get instruction from an instructor/coach. A good one will make very minor changes and in a day or two you will be swimming much better. I helped a guy at the pool who had only been able to swim 200m at a time. He walked up to me yesterday and thanked me two days after I tweeked his stroke he said he can swim much faster, does not get tired and was now able to swim a 1500.

Work on streamline push offs, then add kicking. Then add swim stroke, then breathing.

JMiller
August 20th, 2008, 12:41 PM
For only starting swimming one year ago, you look pretty good, which means you'll probably be able to improve even more with practice.

I don't usually recommend this, but just as a drill, look forward as you swim, focus on keeping a straight line. Do that until you can maintain this during regular swimming.

Also, try head up freestyle with dolphin kick, with fins... 4x50 on 2:00, again as a drill. Keep the head looking forward through-out the entire 50 meters.

That being said, there are other very good qualities to your stroke, so don't change everything to fix a minor flaw, you'll improve just by swimming more.

Core strength training could also be useful. Check this,
http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?t=9092&page=2




I'll happily accept any comments on my videos or general advice that might help me not drown and maybe even improve my stroke. :)
Thank you!

Lump
August 20th, 2008, 02:51 PM
Good for you. Keep working on the drills. Find time during your workout to work on them everytime you swim. That will greatly help you with technique when you put them all together. They will feel unnatural, but thats normal.

You can also work on "sculling". The really short movement of moving your hands "in and out" (back and forth) to slowly propel you through the water. Put a pull buoy between your legs and do different sculling:

-On your stomach, arms out front
-On your stomach, elbows at your hips
-On your back, feet first, arm extended over your head
-On your back, feet first, elbows at side
-On your back, elbows at side, head first

Kind of hard to explain over the net, but most experienced swimmers should know these and could show you. It really helps you with "feel" and how to "catch" the water at the beginning, middle, end of strokes.

Zonfeld
August 20th, 2008, 06:39 PM
Thanks again, everybody, for your comments!


For fun, in a deep pool get into a vertical position with your arms at your sides, and see where your water line is. How much of your head is above water? Now try lifting one arm above your head and see what level you float at. During your arm recovery the weight of your arm is going to push your body down into the water in a similar manner unless there is some counteracting upward force, and the slower you go the more it will sink you.

The water is on eye level. When I lift one arm, the top of my head barely clears the water.


So, one thing you might try is picking up that kick to give you a little more speed, and pick up your tempo a little, that alone should lift you a little higher in the water and also create a little bow wave and trough to breath into.First, I tried swimming faster by stroking faster:
My head stayed submerged, only popped up when I took a breath. The head was then extremely high, almost entirely out of the water. However, rotation was reduced.
The whole thing wass very strenuous.

Then, I tried swimming faster by kicking faster:
Same as before, although the head was slightly lower.


Another thing that you could experiment with is a rotary timing where you start the catch as the other hand finishes the pull/push rather than waiting for the recovering hand to move forward.I tried that but I couldn't do it uniformly because I had trouble getting it right in the first place. The head remained low. There were strokes with less rotation but then there were others with more. I would have to spend some time getting used to it. Inconclusive for now.


I am not sure but at some points I got the impression that your lead arm when extended directly in front of you is actually pointing somewhat downward, which could contribute to your low body position, you might like to try experimenting with trying to get that hand right up near the surface and see if that makes any difference.That had no visible effect on head position. The head remained submerged.
After a round of other experiments I noticed less rotation when focusing on keeping the arm high.


Finally, while I am not generally a fan of head-up freestyle as a drill, in your case it might be instructive to give it a try and see what happens. It might lessen your rotation, and you might have to swim faster to make it work. The adjustments you have to make may give you hints on how to adjust your regular stroke.I'm not sure I did it as intended. I simply kept my head out of the water the entire time and swam forward.
There war practically no rotation because I didn't have to turn my head to breathe. However, it required twice the amount of strokes and I was totally exhausted after only one length. Naturally, the head was above the water this time but I'm pretty sure I don't want to keep swimming like that.


Slightly less extreme, you could try swimming with the water at your hairline - as a drill not as something to achieve in your regular stroke. Again, look for what adjustments you need to make to get your head up, and then see if you can use them in your regular stroke.My head remained submerged even though I looked between 5 and 8 feet forward. But that was the adjustment that had the largest positive effect on rotation. The downside is that I lift the head very high when breathing:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsuxhuOLkJI&fmt=18


I also believe if you finish on mid thigh you will find the body will ride higher.
I cannot say if the body rode higher but it was a great help in reducing vertical movement. I found that having a more stable vertical position allows me to be more daring when breathing. I will definitely keep working on this.


As far as I am concerned don't try the complete fix at one time.I realize that is not possible and I'm not hoping for an immediate fix of all issues. Actually, I don't expect any quick fixes at all. I'm trying to create my roadmap that will eventually get me to a better stroke. It took me months to get this far and I don't expect that things will get easier. I find swimming very complex.


Get instruction from an instructor/coach. A good one will make very minor changes and in a day or two you will be swimming much better. I helped a guy at the pool who had only been able to swim 200m at a time. He walked up to me yesterday and thanked me two days after I tweeked his stroke he said he can swim much faster, does not get tired and was now able to swim a 1500.I would love to but I simply do not know anyone near me whom I consider competent enough or who focuses on the points I consider important. I do not want to be instructed to muscle through the water before I know how I can make sure that the applied force will not damage my shoulder or whatever else there is. I'm 41 now and my body cannot handle the abuse that it tolerated when I was 20. I'm trying to pick my instructors carefully.


The following videos of some dry-land drills and some swimmers may help you. Good luck

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEQTxN854uk&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KV_5-rkTq2E&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENgIRfj1l4c&feature=related
Thanks! I will certainly work on that but I fear learning this skill takes a considerable amount of time.
What do you think about the advice NOT to push the stroke all the way through past the hip in the first video?


I suggest a "back to basics" drill. Facing the pool wall, put both hands on the wall, shoulder width apart. Get in swimming position (without moving the hands). Kick so that you're holding yourself in swimming position and breathe naturally to the side. Do this to get the feel of it. By holding the wall, you will not be able to over-rotate. Once you get the "feel", try it while swimming. Repeat as necessary.

I tried that--it felt horrible and I kept swallowing water; that usually means I have to do more of the same. :)


For only starting swimming one year ago, you look pretty good, which means you'll probably be able to improve even more with practice.

Even though I appreciate honesty and don't mind being confronted with the brutal facts, some encouragement from time to time feels very good. Thank you! :)


I don't usually recommend this, but just as a drill, look forward as you swim, focus on keeping a straight line. Do that until you can maintain this during regular swimming.

Also, try head up freestyle with dolphin kick, with fins... 4x50 on 2:00, again as a drill. Keep the head looking forward through-out the entire 50 meters.Fins--sounds like fun.
What is the desired effect of those drills? Strength, flexibility, anything else?
I don't fully understand how looking forward can help me maintain a straight line. Would you mind explaining that?


Core strength training could also be useful. Check this,
http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?t=9092&page=2I already thought about pilates for core strength. But whenever I could choose between strength exercises, the pool, and running, I either went to the pool or ran.
I guess it's a matter of priorities (stretching is another not so big one for me) and I might have to rethink them.


Drag fingertip drill (works on high elbows)
Catchup drill (six beat kick)
Opposite side breathing (extension)
3 second freestyle (rolling & breathing)
I found breathing on the side that doesn't stroke very hard. It felt much worse than it looked, though.
The one drill I couldn't figure out was the "3 second freestyle". Does that mean gliding for 3 seconds after every stroke?

I believe I do own a DVD where someone advocates various sculling drills. I'm quite sure it contains all those that you mentioned.

JMiller
August 20th, 2008, 07:17 PM
The head-up freestyle with fins (dolphin kick) helps you anchor your head in one position as your body moves. (breath forward) This at least can reduce the head motion you're experiencing, and train you to do something different. (Then you'll have something to compare to.) This drill also has other benefits, it is very good for stroke timing/rhythm, and it will really help your core stabilizers, (since you don't like gym work) I'd try this 2-3 times per week until you've noticed some adaptation. Try another video during the drill, let's see if you're doing it right.

Enjoy, and good luck!


Thanks again, everybody, for your comments!

Even though I appreciate honesty and don't mind being confronted with the brutal facts, some encouragement from time to time feels very good. Thank you! :)

Fins--sounds like fun.
What is the desired effect of those drills? Strength, flexibility, anything else?
I don't fully understand how looking forward can help me maintain a straight line. Would you mind explaining that?

geochuck
August 20th, 2008, 07:40 PM
Zonfeld

Do you ever get to Belgium, I have a friend that is going to swim the English channel in Early Sept. He travels to Germany often and I know that he would be happy to help you with your swimming stroke. He is a student of mine and we worked on his stroke and he has become very proficient in his swimming. He has been helping a swimmer who lived in Germany who since has moved to S Africa. She is starting to swim very well recently.

Zonfeld
August 21st, 2008, 06:14 AM
The head-up freestyle with fins (dolphin kick) helps you anchor your head in one position as your body moves. (breath forward) This at least can reduce the head motion you're experiencing, and train you to do something different. (Then you'll have something to compare to.) This drill also has other benefits, it is very good for stroke timing/rhythm, and it will really help your core stabilizers, (since you don't like gym work) I'd try this 2-3 times per week until you've noticed some adaptation. Try another video during the drill, let's see if you're doing it right.

I can see how that makes sense. Thank you very much!
I didn't own fins, so I got myself a pair with a short blade. My first challenge will be to learn the dolphin kick, or something that remotely resembles it.
I'll upload a video once I think I'm doing something that comes close to what you described. :)


Do you ever get to Belgium, I have a friend that is going to swim the English channel in Early Sept. He travels to Germany often and I know that he would be happy to help you with your swimming stroke. He is a student of mine and we worked on his stroke and he has become very proficient in his swimming. He has been helping a swimmer who lived in Germany who since has moved to S Africa. She is starting to swim very well recently.

I have to admit I've never been to Belgium although it's practically around the corner.
That is a very kind offer and I would very much like to meet your student whenver he's anywhere near. Thanks a lot!

LindsayNB
August 21st, 2008, 01:12 PM
Slightly less extreme, you could try swimming with the water at your hairline - as a drill not as something to achieve in your regular stroke. Again, look for what adjustments you need to make to get your head up, and then see if you can use them in your regular stroke.
My head remained submerged even though I looked between 5 and 8 feet forward. But that was the adjustment that had the largest positive effect on rotation. The downside is that I lift the head very high when breathing:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsuxhuOLkJI&fmt=18

Wow, that's a tremendous improvement! Great work!

Compare the before and after position while breathing in the attached image.

If you can take this just a bit further so that your rotation is about 15 degrees short of vertical instead of right on vertical you'll have the rotation about right. Looking at your head position you have it facing level which is right where you want it, but if you rotate your neck about 15 degrees toward your shoulder then you will get the same position relative to the water without your body having to rotate as far. Right now it is facing straight forward with no neck rotation. You may have read that you should rotate with your body not your neck but this isn't entirely true, and is really meant as advice for people who swim too flat and only rotate the neck. See the far right picture of Phelps that I attached to post #9, his shoulders are at about 45 degrees with his head another 45 degrees for a horizontal position.

I think that you can learn to breath without your head having to be quite as high. I would try the breathing drills that were suggested earlier but change the emphasis to just getting comfortable with breathing with your face almost halfway submerged. Even standing in the water leaning over, or holding onto the edge rotate both your head relative to your shoulders and your shoulders to just bring your nose out of the water and breath through one side of your mouth keeping your lips closed on the other side. You may feel a little self conscious but if you can get really comfortable breathing this way I think it will help you a lot.

Your new fins may be helpful as you do drills as they will give you more speed and stability without as much effort as finless kicking. For example, once you are comfortable with breathing while standing bent over, or at the edge of the pool, you could try kicking with fins with one arm in front and one at your side, and just practice rotating your neck and body just far enough to get a breath. This will be easier with fins than without so maybe start with fins and then when you are really comfortable try it without them. I think that as you practice and you get really relaxed and comfortable with breathing your whole stroke will take another big step forward.

Again, congratulations on your huge improvement and keep us updated!

Zonfeld
August 21st, 2008, 06:03 PM
If you can take this just a bit further so that your rotation is about 15 degrees short of vertical instead of right on vertical you'll have the rotation about right. Looking at your head position you have it facing level which is right where you want it, but if you rotate your neck about 15 degrees toward your shoulder then you will get the same position relative to the water without your body having to rotate as far. Right now it is facing straight forward with no neck rotation. You may have read that you should rotate with your body not your neck but this isn't entirely true, and is really meant as advice for people who swim too flat and only rotate the neck. See the far right picture of Phelps that I attached to post #9, his shoulders are at about 45 degrees with his head another 45 degrees for a horizontal position.

Thank you once more, Lindsay! That improvement would not have been possible without the multitude of suggestions you provided.
Now that I know what to look for, I'm sure I will eventually be able to make it repeatable and take it one step further.
Actually, what I read was that the distance between chin and shoulder should not change when rotating for a breath, as if there were a thread. I believe I read that in an article Emmett Hines wrote.
That has already helped me because--it may be hard to believe--my over-rotation was much worse before I saw myself swimming the first time. I had this self-image of an arrow, cutting through the water and I was appalled when I saw how I actually swam.
However, even though I tried focusing on the chin-shoulder connection, with the large number of stroke defects I'm dealing with, I could never correctly or fully implement what Emmett suggested.

In case he ever reads this post: No, I am not a freeloader. Yes, I did buy the book and even ordered the 2nd edition! :D


I think that you can learn to breath without your head having to be quite as high. I would try the breathing drills that were suggested earlier but change the emphasis to just getting comfortable with breathing with your face almost halfway submerged. Even standing in the water leaning over, or holding onto the edge rotate both your head relative to your shoulders and your shoulders to just bring your nose out of the water and breath through one side of your mouth keeping your lips closed on the other side. You may feel a little self conscious but if you can get really comfortable breathing this way I think it will help you a lot.I realize that I have to work on getting used to breathing with half my face in the water and the pool side drills seems to be just what I need. I will also work on learning the Popeye breathing. I just hope I won't copy some of the other guys I see at the pool. They practically have their entire head above the water, the surface is 3 or 4 inches away from their mouth, and they still do the Popeye thing. :)


Your new fins may be helpful as you do drills as they will give you more speed and stability without as much effort as finless kicking. For example, once you are comfortable with breathing while standing bent over, or at the edge of the pool, you could try kicking with fins with one arm in front and one at your side, and just practice rotating your neck and body just far enough to get a breath. This will be easier with fins than without so maybe start with fins and then when you are really comfortable try it without them. I think that as you practice and you get really relaxed and comfortable with breathing your whole stroke will take another big step forward.I couldn't test drive my fins today because an aqua gymnastics class invaded the small pool just as I wanted to put them on. But I'm confident they will have the effect you described. I believe they will amplify something that I noticed today and which helped me quite a bit in getting a clean breath--thanks to the input of George and Coach T.: While I was swimming a few laps, trying to relax and re-create the image that you saw in the last video, I also tried keeping my finger pointing at the bottom of the pool during the pull and taking it all the way down to the thigh - the poor man's version of EVF/high elbow.
This time I actually felt that I was riding higher in the water and that my forward movement was constant enough to allow me keeping my mouth closer to the water line than I normally would have risked when breathing. I even felt water rushing by my mouth and still didn't swallow any--or at least not enough to remember it or break the stroke. ;)
Now it could be that I was just hallucinating and what I did looked horrible and was all wrong, but it felt very good. I'm hoping that the fins will add to that effect and let me make adjustments with less risk of getting thrown off by anxiety.
My only fear (and the reason why I had not owned any fins before) is that I will get addicted to the fins and not enjoy swimming without them anymore.


Again, congratulations on your huge improvement and keep us updated!Again, thank you very much for your time, patience, and willingness to share your knowledge!
You cannot imagine how much you've helped me in such a short time. It would have taken me at least weeks, more likely several months to find out on my own what to work on to build my freestyle.

Everybody here is very kind and I'm immensely grateful.

And yes, I will keep you updated. There's so much to do still. :)

Zonfeld
August 17th, 2009, 09:34 AM
It's been a year since I posted a link to a video and I thought it was time to provide an update:
YouTube - Swimming freestyle for stroke analysis, August 13, 2009

There is still a lot to be done and I'm only beginning to understand how many stroke defects I have to work on but nonetheless, comments are welcome. :)
Thank y'all!

geochuck
August 17th, 2009, 10:50 AM
You appear to be a pretty good slow swimmer, I would prefer to look at some fast speed swimming.

SolarEnergy
August 17th, 2009, 10:56 AM
I had a quick look at what other members have said so far. I won't get into deep details about stroke mechanics since it's already been covered extensively.

The thing that bugged me at first sight and that still bugs me a bit is that given your execution of freestyle, I am not sure that your *basic* hydrodynamic position is sorted out. You know when you push off the wall and glide underwater by adopting a *rocket-kike* position? I'd really like to see this.

I'd like to remind you (I am sure you've heard it over and over) that at your level, *Stretching* is very important and should have a beneficial impact on your ability to implement several suggestions made by other members so far.

The thing that bugs me with your executions (over time) is that your upper body muscles (upper back, shoulders and probably pectorals etc) seem to lack flexibility. You seem to be very strong, gifted on the muscle mass side, but I am not sure that you spend enough time is stretching as much as it is required to get this *rocket-like* perfectly hydrodynamic position. This basic feeling of being hydrodynamic should translate into a stroke that is more fluid.

So my 2 pennies, stretching !!

Zonfeld
August 17th, 2009, 12:15 PM
George: "fast speed swimming" isn't part of my vocabulary. ;)
I'm having trouble swimming faster because my stroke totally falls apart that way. So even if I spend more energy, I don't move forward much faster. And since I have so much basic stuff to work on, I never tried to become better at swimming faster.
I will, however, try to record and post a video of a "strong" effort so you can judge for yourself.

SolarEnergy: In fact, I don't remember anybody pointing that out and I am definitely guilty of not stretching enough; the amount of stretching I do gravitates towards zero. But I acknowledge that not stretching hinders my progress and I will include it in my workout.
I always assumed that core stability, i.e., letting my gut hang down, was more the issue than flexibility but in all likelihood it's both.

Thank you both for your replies!

geochuck
August 17th, 2009, 12:32 PM
I can just imagine what happens at speed. I noticed the tendancy at slow speed a slight fishtailing. which I can imagine gets worse at speed. I notice you are dragging water with the left hand as it exits the water and I see water flying through the air which means the left hand does not exit cleanly. I am afraid your head is just a little to low in the water ala following directions from some DVD.

Zonfeld
August 17th, 2009, 12:52 PM
I am afraid your head is just a little to low in the water ala following directions from some DVD.

I have to admit, I'm trying to emulate something I saw in one of the swimming DVDs that I own: "Go Swim Sprint Freestyle with Roland Schoeman"
It's probably hard to see any similarity watching me swim but basically that's what I am aiming at.

But keeping the head low and breathing in the "trough" is what I find prescribed in most of the material that I bought, including all GoSwim DVDs that even remotely have anything to do with freestyle.
I believe the advice to keep the head low is pretty common.

SolarEnergy
August 17th, 2009, 01:55 PM
SolarEnergy: In fact, I don't remember anybody pointing that out and I am definitely guilty of not stretching enough; the amount of stretching I do gravitates towards zero. But I acknowledge that not stretching hinders my progress and I will include it in my workout.
I always assumed that core stability, i.e., letting my gut hang down, was more the issue than flexibility but in all likelihood it's both. At your level, the rational behind the importance of stretching has to do with Newton's Third Law of motion: "for every action force there is an equal (in size) and opposite (in direction) reaction force".

Lack of flexibility in various muscle groups (especially upper body) will result into counterproductive forces being applied where it shouldn't.

Let us take a simple example to illustrate this. Lack of flexibility for pectoral muscles: You are recovering the right arm, but due to lack of flexibility of right hand side pectoral muscles groups (or even both side's pectorals) the pulling action of left hand is disrupted.

In other words, at your level, most technical flaws falls into either the proprioceptive category (your ability to move your body exactly as you should without the need to see yourself) or lack of flexibility category. Proprioceptive issues, you are addressing them by asking members to comment on your clip. But if a flaw is there because of flexibility issues, no matter how well the issue is explained to you, no matter how hard you try and film and look and comment, and film again etc, that won't work without correcting the flexibility issue.

Fortunately, you don't have to be *that* flexible. The *rocket-like* position you can take while pushing off the walls and gliding can tell if you have at least a decent flexibility level.

If when pushing off the wall, you glide perfectly streamlined with both arms over ***and behind*** the head, and that this position feels easy to keep, the the odds of seeing this flexibility transferring into your stroke is very high.

This is why I stated (after having seen all your clips) that I wished I could see your glides off the wall. Because if you can not achieve this perfectly streamlined position with arms above and behind the head easily, it'll be very difficult to make substantial progresses with your stroke. Same goes for all other strokes by the way.

It is this position here that I am talking about (although I find that the arms could be brought *behind* the head a little more).. YouTube - How to Swim the Freestyle Stroke : The Streamline Position for the Freestyle Stroke

Another view here (after the turns)... YouTube - Flip Turn

Zonfeld
August 17th, 2009, 06:25 PM
George: I tried to swim faster here (really, I did):
YouTube - Swimming freestyle for stroke analysis - increased pace, August 17, 2009
Unfortunately, I didn't get the angle quite right but you'll probably get the idea.


SolarEnergy: I gathered some footage of streamlining/pushoffs but I never really focused on recording my streamline so I'm not sure this is helping:
YouTube - Streamlining and Pushoffs 2008
And don't look at the turns too closely; I'm just starting. ;)
I believe I can manage to get into a streamlined position but it requires a lot of concentration and I feel very tense when my sole focus is on a good streamline; I probably hold my breath when stretching in some places and pinching in others, which isn't really helping me with the rest of my swimming.

geochuck
August 17th, 2009, 06:41 PM
I do not like your breathing you are an armpit breather. Don't look back to where you have been. Your right hand on entry does some strange wiggling stuff to get it into the catch position.

SolarEnergy
August 18th, 2009, 11:59 AM
I believe I can manage to get into a streamlined position but it requires a lot of concentration and I feel very tense when my sole focus is on a good streamline; I probably hold my breath when stretching in some places and pinching in others, which isn't really helping me with the rest of my swimming. Then I am really glad I could bring this issue to your attention, because it will make a difference in your ability to implements some recommendations other members have issued.

Streamline position should not require concentration or should not result into upper body muscle tensions. When you reach this point where streamlining becomes easy, your stroke will greatly benefit from it.

Best simple drill to improve your streamline position? Just good old backstroke kicking with both arms in streamline position. No need for more, although you may include a short stretching routine you can do at home once in a while.

I will not issue any other technical recommendation since other members have done this very well.

I am amazed by the serious you put into your swimming, and also very impressed by the progress you've made in the last few years.

Enjoy!
Charles

Zonfeld
August 18th, 2009, 02:36 PM
George: Thank you! At least I'm breathing into my own armpit and not somebody else's; so things could be worse. ;)
I will focus more on looking directly to the side when I breathe. Not sure why my hand does "some strange wiggling stuff" but that will probably go away when I concentrate on hand entry.


Charles: Thank you for your suggestions and your kind words! I do some backstrocke kicking from time to time, mainly because I'm trying to learn how to kick properly (I don't get the "kicking from the hip" part right), and I'll do more of that and work on my streamline. And I will definitely pick up some kind of stretching routine because I see the necessity, even just in terms of injury prevention. I saw something that didn't look overly time consuming on the CD-ROM that comes with the SwimSmooth DVD package.

I've always secretly envied swimmers for their ability to gracefully move through the water; one day, while I was working on my "things to do before I die" list, I figured that it probably wasn't too late for me to reach a certain skill level where I could consider myself a swimmer--and find others sharing that opinion--and so I took the first step.
In the process, struggling through anxiety and embarrassment, I found out that I simply love being in the water and that a day without swimming is pretty much doomed to be a sad day. I also found out that nothing compares to the joy of feeling something "click" when swimming or drilling, or having one of those days when I'm "in the flow" and everything feels right.
Basically, I unexpectedly found my passion in swimming and I'm trying to become the best swimmer I can be. :)

SolarEnergy
August 18th, 2009, 07:01 PM
Great. Swimsmooth DVD package is great. Follow this.

Your attitude in learning how to swim should be quoted as a good example to follow.

Swimming, compared with other cyclic endurance activities, isn't just about training. Those who seem to never really improve are those who show up on the deck, jump in the pool and train.

You, on the other hand, are taking the time to discover and enjoy the sensations that come along with the process. You're becoming little more *fishy* every day. Wondering about how you should move in the water will bring you to a certain level, wondering about how you should FEEL while moving will bring you further.

As you increase flexibility, you will discover even better sensations. We can tell that you're becoming passionate about it, just by the way you swim. So keep going, keep feeling, you're on the right path.

In case you need more inspiration for stretching and dryland exercises in general, here are some swimmers' secrets. The first post shows stretching, and the other one shows tubing exercise, so beneficial for improving very specific movements involved in swimming. (note that I wanted to bring all these pics on USMS.org, however since they have disabled the html img tag, they don't come as handy. sorry)

stretching post
http://www.tritalk.co.uk/forums/viewtopic.php?p=235528#235528

tubing post
http://www.tritalk.co.uk/forums/viewtopic.php?p=227878#227878

Enjoy!

Zonfeld
August 19th, 2009, 04:42 AM
Thank you, Charles!

I agree, I like the Swimsmooth DVDs a lot. And Paul Newsome has a very entertaining way of presenting his stuff. :)
I recently had another look at his website, after George mentioned Mr. Smooth, and found it very well organized and helpful.

Just FYI, I can look at the pictures in the stretching post but the links to the images of the tubing post seem to be broken.
No biggie, though, I have enough to work on.

geochuck
August 19th, 2009, 08:52 AM
Just one suggestion about stretching. Do not stretch cold muscles. Also don't hurt yourself. I have found that most stretching is over done.

srcoyote
August 19th, 2009, 12:01 PM
Just to throw in my two cents especially with regards to head position:

25 years ago, when I swam age group, we were encouraged to keep the waterline at our brow level which is way higher than coaches who say "keep your head lower" now view it. So when they now say keep your head low, the waterline should be somewhere near the hairline I think.. While this varies for many people, the idea is not to have the waterline at the top of your head. I think your latest video has the waterline at the top of your head still. By holding your head just a little higher, it will make it easier to breathe with a minimum of turning.

Your fish tail has decreased immensely from video to video, but when your head gets too low, it requires that you lift and turn your head while breathing. You shouldn't have to lift to breathe. Soon as you do, your hips will drop and your alignment begins messing up.

One visualization/sensation drill that has improved the efficiency of my stroke lately is to pretend that I am a telephone pole or that my body is a surfboard and my arms are paddles. My stroke motion mimics paddling a surfboard with my body roll feeling similar to paddling a surfboard or a telephone pole. That ensures I keep a straight line from my head all the way to my feet. Don't know if that would work for you or not.

Best of luck. For one year swimming you are showing tremendous results!

Zonfeld
August 19th, 2009, 02:33 PM
George: Thank you for the warning! I will be careful.
Undoubtedly, I am in much more danger of being hurt by pools without lane end markers.
I sometimes forget to count my strokes and end up recovering and extending into the wall. ;)

David: Thank you for your feedback and encouragement! After reading your post I looked at my footage again, a bit closer this time, and realized there is still a lot of vertical head movement and that my head is completely submerged much of the time. I wasn’t aware of the excessive amount of up and down movement—I “dig in” even deeper to prepare for the breath—and that sometimes during the stroke the back of my head is two or three inches below the surface.
I will have to get that under control, but I believe that it is mainly caused by my poor implementation of the streamline:
I'm trying to streamline as prescribed by Bill Boomer; your telephone pole is probably a good analogy.
Richard Quick created a DVD on “Posture, Line, and Balance” and I’m paraphrasing some of that here:
The idea is to get the neck and spine into one extended, straight line. When talking about extending the neck, Richard quick referred to this as “growing away the monkey bump from the tail bone”.
When standing with the back against a wall, the entire spine and neck would be touching the wall. In doing so, there isn’t a lot of room for playing with the position of the head; it is pretty much predetermined.
I understand the rationale and believe in the concept but the problem is that I suck at streamlining. :D

I will experiment with your visualization drill and imagine myself as a paddling telephone pole. Sounds like fun, too. :)
I am quite optimistic that—one day in the distant future—obtaining a decent streamline will automatically bring my head into the ideal position and keep it there.