View Full Version : Streamlining question

August 19th, 2005, 01:03 PM
Anyone have any good drills/ideas/thoughts for working on streamlining off the wall? I've been concentrating on increasing the power in the dolphin kicks, but I know I need to work on my streamline, too. I know what I'm supposed to do (head down, squeeze ears with arm muscles, hand over hand, etc.) but find my technique falling apart as I tire during the workout.

I'm not very flexible, and find stretching my arms out to where I squeeze my ears sort of uncomfortable, or at least unnatural feeling, even when I'm fresh. That same position becomes more unnatural feeling as my arm muscles tire. I can hold it OK for a little while when I concentrate, but usually after a couple hundred meters I will "wake up" in a pushoff to find my elbws slightly bent and arms away from my head by a couple of inches, which I know is really inefficient.

I've been trying to just "assume the position" at home periodically, and incorporate it into my warmup stretching. I am self-coached, with no video opportunity -- but I know video would show a crummy steamline. I've watched the eeswim stuff, and can clearly see and visualize what a great streamline looks like, but mine's not there. Any thoughts?


August 19th, 2005, 01:49 PM
you've got to get to where you can
comfortably hold streamline position

where you place each part of your body where it needs to be in a firm yet relaxed position
here's a few things to concentrate on:

Powerful push
toes pointed
legs together
butt tucked / hips rocked forward
stomach flat
arms extended and locked
head neutral (not down)
sense the moment when to start your kick and to begin your stroke

it's like you're trying to fit your body in the tiniest pipe possible

some people have tight shoulders and it's difficult, straining or impossible to hold streamline position
some people are able to place their arms and shoulders in streamline position and relax.

Phelps appears to have pretty loose shoulders
as part of his pre race ritual
he'll bend over on the blocks and slap his hands behind his back

video taping is handy because you can see what you're doing right and wrong

also watch people who are great streamliners

keep concentrating on better streamlines
powerful pushoff
perfect streamline form
fast full dolphin kicks

here's a few things you can do to improve your streamline:

1) turn even / race off
race people to the flags

2) streamline dolphin kicking for time
12.5, 15, 25, and 50

if you consistently concentrate on great streamlines you'll improve

also remember the rebound effect
the more powerfully you hit the wall the better you'll spring off
some people waste their momentum

good luck

hope this helps

August 19th, 2005, 02:13 PM
Like the above post, you have to practice, practice, practice! Once you are "there" you will not tire anymore and the streamline will be like second nature to you! It is very easy to forget good streamline, but with enough practice... you'll get it!

Here's my two cents...

-When you are kicking, ditch the kickboard... every time you do a turn (and even when you are kicking), hold that streamline tight! Your muscles just have to get used to being in that "new" position.

-Here's a drill to work on while doing freestyle... after pushing off the wall, stay on your back and kick for 6... turn to your side and kick for 6... turn to your tummy and kick for 6 and then breakout to swim. Hold that streamline like your life depended on it!

-Stretching will help you, keep it up!


August 20th, 2005, 01:01 AM

I'm not very flexible, and find stretching my arms out to where I squeeze my ears sort of uncomfortable is very common.

You may never be able to stretch enough without help to be comfortable. Read my article "Stretching my way to a National Championship" you can Google search for that title or go to www.breaststroke.info.

My good friend designed many things, but the ROM strap was one that worked for me. I use the Range Of Motion strap every time I swim, with several minutes of use I can be very comfortable off the walls. My streamline is VERY good, because of the stretching with the ROM strap. I often push off and go 15-16 yards on a breaststroke pushoff. At least a body length further on a fly and freestyle than others in my lane. It is easy and fun speed.

I often say " Thank you Marty Hull"!

August 20th, 2005, 05:36 AM
You said you have no video. Try to find someone who does have a video cam or ask around at the pool and see if someone will tape you if you pay for the tape. Offer to tape the camera owner in return for taping you.

You can review it on the spot right after you swim or there are some very inexpensive places you could take the tape and review it later without a camera. A coach has a bird's eye view and that's a perspective everyone needs. Below/under the water video of yourself is harder to get, but not impossible.

August 20th, 2005, 08:28 AM
I have watched the kids at age group practice sit in streamline and the coach times them and challenges them to hold the position each time a little longer. PErhaps as you sit at work, or watch TV, you should practice your streamline. Since you don't have to worry about breathing, and kicking and which lane you are in, you could enhance the flexibility and comfort that way.

I took a one day clinic on turns this summer, and the dolphin kick off the wall was worked on a lot. I was kicking from my hips and knees more than my abs at first. Once I got it right, I knew it, and my abs were sore the next day(me who works my abs everyday constantly outside the water!).

Karen Duggan
August 20th, 2005, 02:37 PM
I agree with Ande and others- it's just a matter of doing it ALL THE TIME. If you tire because of it, keep doing it, because what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger!

I ALWAYS do the best streamlines I can in practice no matter how tired I am. During a close race in workout, I always come out ahead on the walls- practice of perfection makes perfect :)

Races are won and lost with streamlines.

Nike: Just do it.

Matt S
August 20th, 2005, 04:52 PM

Sounds to me like you have a general flexibility issue. Lots of swimming authorities (from our own Wayne M to Dr. Ron Karnaugh, who held the SCM World Record for 200 IM when he was in his mid-30s) recomend a stretching program.

I do a 1 hour yoga class once a week. I have found this is more useful that doing weight training, even weight training more often than once per week. There are lots of other options: pilates, swim specific stretching programs, etc. I makes sense to me that as we get older we need to pay more attention to flexibility.

Just my two cents.


August 22nd, 2005, 01:40 PM
Aww, c'mon, you mean I have to work hard at it? What's up with that?:)

Excellent suggestions, all. Ande, thanks for the list. Quite a few of those suggestions I have not seen elsewhere.

Matt, thanks for bringing up the "Y" word ("yogurt", we call it at my house, as in "see ya hon, I'm going to yogurt.") Intellectually, I know that yoga will make me both stronger and more flexible. My wife has got me to go a few times, but I'm such an inflexible dork I end up red faced, grunting, and sweating the whole time. Not exactly a zen experience. I know, it will get better (that's the point, right?), but I still hate it. But I am interested to hear that you get benefit from 1 hour a week. That's not so bad. I think I may give that a try.

Sarah, thanks, I ditched the kickboard a while back after reading a bunch about it here. You're right, kick sets are the perfect time to practice streamlining.

Wayne, great article, although I'm worried if I buy more gear I may turn into a triathlete.:D

Piersolfan, a couple who has been swimming at the same time as me keep threatening to bring a video camera, and the pool staff have offered to let us use the underwater windows to shoot. I think we'll just have to do it.

By the way, to the non-USMS lurkers out there -- I joined USMS after lurking for a few weeks, not because I needed to (I swim alone, am not currently competing, this site is free, etc.), but because I found I wanted to pay someone something for all the great workouts and information that are available here (posters, don't ask, I'm not sending you a check). Pretty much the same reason I am a member of NPR. If you consistently get something of value here, join USMS.

August 22nd, 2005, 08:45 PM
Underwater windows!? :eek:

I'm jealous. Sounds like you have a mighty fine pond to swim in!

August 23rd, 2005, 01:02 PM
For a small town, it ain't bad. The tank is 25 m x 25 yards, always set up meters for lap swim. There are 2 largish windows at the deep end, parallel to the meters direction. There is some kind of a dark, dank, subterranean cavern behind them to which I have never been admitted. Our pool staff is pretty nice and helpful to the lap swimmers. Usually they'll pull an extra lane if they see more than one swimmer in a lane. A couple of the guards offered to run video for us, and they said we can use the cavern.

I think they feel sorry for us after watching us struggle with the butterfly.