View Full Version : Video analysis - 50 Free

April 3rd, 2009, 03:11 PM
My 50 free from Austin last year. Lane 3, green cap.

I'd of course like to be significantly faster. Any and all comments are welcome, and my little bro over there in Lane 6 might welcome some as well.

YouTube - 50 free

April 3rd, 2009, 03:31 PM
You are slightly faster than me so take that into consideration.

But you were slow off the blocks. You may have been the last to move. At :08 seconds in you can see that most of the heat is well into the water while you are still in the air. Your streamline must have been good though because you surfaced in a good position. I don't see any glaring problems at all. It looks like a good swim overall to me.

April 3rd, 2009, 03:36 PM
Great swim Bill, and nice time.

First comment: you didn't need to say you were in lane 3 with a green cap. You could have said that I look like this emoticon :D

An actual comment: I think I counted 5 breaths on the first lap, and breaths in and out of the turn. If you eliminate those breaths, just in and out of the turn, you would have certainly broken 24.

Again, great job!

April 3rd, 2009, 03:50 PM
I will look at the video when I get home but with Speedo's comment I will tell you that you that you need to breathe MUCH less. For a 24 second race, any more than 1 or 2 breaths is wasted effort. The air will really help you 15 seconds after you climb out of the pool but not that's about it. :D At worst you should be able to swim the first 25 in one breath and 2 breaths on the way back.

And it is critical that you do not breathe in or out of the turn on a 50. Just kills your body position and your speed in and out of the turn.

I take a single breath halfway on the 2nd 25 and that's it. In practice I would work on adding 1 or 2 full up sprint 50's where you focus on reducing your breaths per length by 1 per week or so with a target of one per 25.

At 24 seconds, you should easily be able to take 1 breath at the flags, then one breath half way on the 2nd 25 and that's it. Figure 8 seconds between breaths.

I'll take a look at the stroke mechanics when I get home.

jim thornton
April 3rd, 2009, 03:56 PM
First of all, Bill, GREAT SUIT!

I agree with the earlier comments. The one thing I wondered about is your finish. It almost seemed like you were in the nether region between taking a short stroke (which you did) or finishing with the other arm.

Not sure if this would help or hurt, but I do wonder if you had kicked really hard at the end you might have managed to take one less arm pull and finish that much faster.

April 3rd, 2009, 04:08 PM
Your head is too high, your kick is too weak. Your stroke looks powerful. Way too many breaths. Good start too.

April 3rd, 2009, 04:58 PM
Nice swim, you are very strong in the water.

OK, some comments after seeing the video.

1) Get your hips higher than your shoulders. This will help shift your center of gravity to the front.
2) Try to jump up just a little bit. You have a very flat entry which means your lower legs and feet slap the water. You want to trying and create a single hole in the water with your hands that everything else enters thru.

I like your body line on entry getting a little more height on your start will really care a lot more speed into the water.

1) Need to reduce the number of breaths you take
2) Work on sneaking your breath. You rotate your head a lot more than necessary to take a breath. Think about keeping your left eye in the water as you take a breath.
3) Late breathing. This is such a killer. I'm fighting this right now. You should be rotating to take a breath as your opposite hand enters the water and you should be rotating your head down as that arm initiates the catch. You are breathing a touch late but not nearly as late as I do.

Arm Stroke
1) Right arm looks OK but left arm really looks like it's slapping the water. Try to think about piercing the water with your hand.
2) Your arms are very straight. I personally like a bent elbow recovery but in this one there's 2 schools of thought.

1) Don't breath in or out.
2) Seperate your feet a little more on the turn. This will give you a more powerful push off the wall.
3) Bend your knees just a touch more to create a smaller, faster turning radius.

Body position
1) Head is too high which causes your hips and legs to drop. I imagine you were taught to keep the water line across your forehead like I was. Look at the bottom of the pool, if you can see where you are going, your head's too high.

1) Needs to be stronger and faster. Work on generating a monster kick.
2) Disappears when you breathe. Trust me I know what this is like. Once you correct the late breathing and over rotating your head to breathe, your kick will be constant. I bet that it feels like it stops when you breathe.

So, want to reiterate. VERY nice swim.

I know this seems that a lot but with the exception of the breathing, it's a series of very minor technique changes that will yield some serious speed.

April 3rd, 2009, 09:48 PM
You look pretty good to me. I'm still swimming 30 second 50 frees, so I'll just say, "Wow, you're fast, keep at it!" :)

April 4th, 2009, 02:07 AM
At your age ,that's good. I agree, less breathing & better turns.

April 4th, 2009, 01:06 PM
Excellent comments, thank you all. I do appreciate it.

A few random thoughts:


WTF happened there? I had done a 2-breather at a meet earlier than this one, and while it was a slower swim, I knew it was the way to go. Maybe I was hyperventilating before the race, or just spaced it out. I think I count 2 on the way out and 3, maybe 4 back, but that's far too many under any circumstances. It is particularly bad for me to breathe too often because I tend to sweep my left arm under my torso and dump my pull when I breathe to my favored right side.

I know the top folks are taught to clear their minds and think of nothing at all, but I usually have 1 or 2 things I try and concentrate on in each race. I am swimming the 50 next weekend at Federal Way for the PNA champs (poaching their meet because it's a world-class pool and some additional race practice), and my sole focus will be to swim a one out, one back breathing plan.


I am hands down the worst kicker on my team. Last year I considered my kick to be useless and wholly ineffective. I've been working pretty hard on it, doing actual kick sets and not defaulting to breaststroke kick like I have in the past when I got tired. Right now I'd rate my kick as pathetic and marginally effective. PWolf is spot-on with the comment about stopping during a breath; my coach made the same comment last year after my 50 at LCM Nats. I need to work on sneaking the breath, pulling straight through with the left arm, and kicking kicking and kicking.


Speaking of the left arm . . . one of my coaches described it recently as looking I as if was doing a one armed fly. He pointed out that I was presenting a huge drag surface in my left shoulder by not rotating on that side. It's a pretty easy fix at practice speeds -- simply breathing to the left every other stroke gets my elbow nice and high and sets my catch out where it needs to be -- but it's been hard to implement that at race pace.

I had fooled around with some very straight armed straight arm free after watching some clips of Stephen Nystrand, but I ended up with sort of the hybrid you see in the clip. If I can remember to get the EVF working, I think it can work for me, as it feels like what my body naturally wants to do.


I once described my start as feeling like I was unfolding one of those old carpenter's rules, where each segment is 6" long or so and it unfolds to a few feet. But I began to wonder, because often I would be pretty near the front of the pack when we started swimming. Through the magic of a video editing program, I have been able to watch this clip at 1/4 speed, and hoffam is correct -- I am the last to leave the blocks. I will keep practicing starts and doing races and try and get my reaction time down.

My stance on the blocks looks a litle tight here, I think I have modified it somewhat, but will think about it next time I go off the blocks.

I also spent some time recently trying to dive through the hole with no splash. I need to keep working on that. The leg slap thing has got to slow me down. I think a hip higher position will help, and also help get me swimming downhill on the breakout.

My power off the block and streamline must be decent, though, because I didn't suffer too much in relation to my fellow competitors for being the last off.


Seems like one of those things I'll be working on forever in trying to drop time. Faster, tighter, more streamlined, more powerful kicks off the wall, etc. etc. etc. And of course no breathing.

Head position

Yep, I'm a product of the 70s, with a head up and look where you're going mentality. I seem to struggle a little with bulkhead pools in particular; there's something a little strange to me about being able to see under the bulkhead as I approach it, and I know I tend to lift my head as I approach the turn. This, like every other "little" thing in a 50, is a killer. I never trained in a bulkhead pool as a kid, and I currently train in an SCM pool exclusively, so my SCY stroke count seems weird to begin with, and my bulkhead-o-phobia doesn't help. Jim, that's my excuse for blowing the finish, and I'm sticking to it. I think a lot more racing at different venues will help here, which is another reason I am going to Federal Way next weekend.


Nope, Jim, that was an FS Pro, a suit which I never came to love. I still have it, and will be happy to let you try it along with the B70.

Austin was the first place I saw a B70, by the way. The Oregon contingent sat right behind Roque and Debbie, and Enie Jones from Colorado showed me her new B70 wetsuit before one of her races. I got my Nero at LCM Nats, and love it.


OK, I'll go out on a limb here and announce that my goal is to get under 23 by the time I am in the 50 - 55 age group. I am 48 now, with a December birthday, so I have a couple of years left. Truthfully, I don't think I'm a sprinter -- I think I'm more naturally a 200/500 guy -- but I have this incredible aversion to pain (not to mention hard work). But I think with some additional stroke tinkering and work on my kick, I have a shot at a sub-23 50.

Thanks again.

April 4th, 2009, 05:38 PM
I like Pwolf's points.

The left arm is not catching water quick enough. Your arm is full extended and your hand is still laying on the surface...no good. You need to get that hand going in sooner so it can pull water sooner. Watch the right arm of lane 5 in the first 25. To emphasize this point watch lane 5's lack of kick. He's getting it done with turnover, a good catch and balance stemming from not breathing.

Don't take as many breaths. Watch lane 5.

On your start put that trail leg a bit farther back on the block. Watch lane 5.
I prefer not to bend over and have to wait for the "on your mark". This isometric wastes energy. Either put your hands on your thighs or stand up. Don't let someone else dictate the start. The starter may be letting someone fiddle with their goggles while you are bent over helpless and sometimes he wont stand you up. Pay attention to earlier heats to see if he is running a tight ship. Be one of those standing or bracing your upper body against your legs if you feel the starter is too leanient.

On your entry and breakout, ignore lane 5, you did it better.

I think all this adds up to a second and make you even faster.

April 4th, 2009, 06:24 PM
I just don't like to see the calf mucles and foot exit the water. You do it often and little bro does it nearly every kick I believe it is wasted power.

Brian Hanratty
April 4th, 2009, 06:36 PM
All good comments on the race from everyone else.

But your straight arm recovery throws off your balance causing your body to go left to right, which is slowing you down.

Practice drills: Drag your finger tips perdendicular across the water during your stoke recovery and keep you wrist relaxed. Then when you enter the water at the top of your stroke your finger tips should enter the water first like a knife. I angle my hands palms out. This helps to remove bubbles in the water so you have better traction under water.

Your left arm recovery is a little better than you right, so breath on the other side during paratice, but when racing use your favorite side.