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Alphathree
November 1st, 2006, 09:29 PM
At first I thought I liked the backstroke, but now I'm all confused about the stroke.

I started doing the stroke "not thinking about it", but now that I'm _trying_ do it right, I can't do it anymore. =)

The recovery phase is fine -- obviously, it's relatively easy. My hand is in front of me and I'm not doing anything too crazy with it.

It's the push/pull. I find it awkward to do much of anything behind my back, perhaps because of low flexibility.

During recovery, my arm stays in the vertical plane, close to my head. But once it enters the water, it tends to veer out of that plane and to the side because I can't put my arm behind my back with my palms facing my feet very easily.

Since my stroke goes out to the side a bit, it steers me off course and destabilizes me.

While writing this, I'm practicing my stroke in the air, and I just noticed that rolling into the stroke makes a HUGE difference for me.

My instructor didn't tell me to do that... I'm beginning to wonder how good she is... she's a good swimmer... effortless in the water... but she doesn't verbalize very much.

Ahh, rolling, maybe I answered my own question. My shoulders REALLY hurt when I don't roll, but when I do, it feels great. That definitely helps.

Okay, I have one more: I don't wear goggles when I swim and I find that even when I minimize the splash, I still get water in my eyes during backstroke. Should I just swim with my eyes closed, will I get used to it, or what?

geochuck
November 1st, 2006, 09:45 PM
Rolling very important. Some videos here re backstroke http://eliteswimming.com/swimvids.shtml

Here are a bunch more http://www.swim.ee/videos/back/back.html

Some animated vids http://www.people.westminstercollege.edu/faculty/ccline/clinetv/backstroke.html

KaizenSwimmer
November 1st, 2006, 10:05 PM
I find that even when I minimize the splash, I still get water in my eyes during backstroke. Should I just swim with my eyes closed, will I get used to it, or what?

Keep working on swimming without splash. Natalie Coughlin makes no splash when swimming. Beth Botsford won the 100m Back at the 96 Olympics. Hers was the "quietest" lane of all 8 swimmers. Keep quiet water around your face and keep water out of the air. It will help everything else.

Alphathree
November 1st, 2006, 10:26 PM
Geochuck: The animated videos really helped me... what I was doing is a lot more awkward than what the animated character is doing. I notice he has his hands pointed to the SIDES of the pool rather than the BOTTOM. How do you prevent this from destabilizing your body position and/or sending you off course in some kind of odd zig-zag across the pool?

Kaizen: Thanks for the tips about swimming 'quiet'... I'll definitely keep working on it.

geochuck
November 1st, 2006, 10:35 PM
I believe in backstroke the kick is the stabilizer. The quite swimming is a very good tip but you will see here once you really get going it will not be quite see swimming videos from 2004 Olympics. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NhPYeVfBfKk

I like this also http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVZy7K_fkJ4&mode=related&search=

Have a look here http://swimmingscience.blogspot.com/2006/05/backstroke-magic.html

Alphathree
November 2nd, 2006, 12:56 PM
OK.

I guess I'm just curious how one stays stabilized in backstroke, with the stroke going out to the side... ?

In freestyle, my understanding is that the stroke is supposed to be directly underneath you to prevent veering off course...

So what about for backstroke? Do you just have to kick like crazy all the time to compensate for the out-to-the-side strokes?

Thanks.

geochuck
November 2nd, 2006, 12:59 PM
The arms are not pushing water away from the body you are pressing it in the direction of the legs.

Alphathree
November 2nd, 2006, 01:03 PM
Okay, but because the force is applied away from my center of mass, it will have a tendency to rotate me, even if I push straight back.

One more question about this "S-curve" business. My understanding is that you're supposed to make a slight "S" with your hand so that you're always pushing against still water.

Makes sense...

But I can't quite tell from the videos...

In which plane am I supposed to make the "S"? The most natural thing seems to be to do the first part of the "S" out away from the body, and the second part back in toward the body. Is this right?

geochuck
November 2nd, 2006, 01:28 PM
Being a newbie I think you are thinking the S is the only way to go. Don't even think about this just hold and press to the finish.

If we were trying to keep centered the thumb would be on your chin, touching the body all the time until your hand starts the recovery.

Alphathree
November 2nd, 2006, 01:34 PM
Being a newbie I think you are thinking the S is the only way to go. Don't even think about this just hold and press to the finish.

If we were trying to keep centered the thumb would be on your chin, touching the body all the time until your hand starts the recovery.

Thumb would be on my chin?

You mean, keep my hand basically right up against my body during the whole pull?

geochuck
November 2nd, 2006, 01:42 PM
No, I am saying to be truly centered it would be that way. You would not be efficient if you did this.

Get in and relax and try not to be too technical until you start get the feel of the water.

An old coach of mine told me swim and everything will fall into place. Perfection does not come overnight.

Alphathree
November 2nd, 2006, 01:50 PM
No, I am saying to be truly centered it would be that way. You would not be efficient if you did this.

Get in and relax and try not to be too technical until you start get the feel of the water.

An old coach of mine told me swim and everything will fall into place. Perfection does not come overnight.

Fair enough, but I also don't want to train a whole bunch of wrong things into muscle memory. I figure I should start out practicing as close to perfect as possible so that I land somewhere near average. =)

And I really _AM_ experiencing this turning force _in real water_ when I try backstroke, so I really did need help =)

islandsox
November 3rd, 2006, 08:48 AM
I just had to jump in here. I like a lot of what geochuck has had to say. I have been a backstroker for about all of my swimming career.

Backstroke requires a great kick. I always had a 6 beat kick; 2 on the left side, 2 center, and 2 on the right. When my hand/arm enter the water over my head (position is 11 o'clock and 1 o'clock), my little finger enters first. In order to get the most out of the pulling portion, I rotate my hips so my pull is not to the side, but more underneath. As the pull starts to become the push, I am more on my side and my hand/forearm shove the water past my thigh thus creating great forward movement.

I also want to say here that there should be almost zero head movement. We used to practice a drill with goggles or coins placed on our forehead while we were swimming backstroke. Think of being a skewer and your body is the chicken roasting. Swimming quietly is key here.

Also, just for those old timers who might remember this, during the push phase by the thigh, on the shorter distances we would push downward which aids hip rotation. On the 200, we would change our hand position to the upward position and push upward. But I never could get the hang of that and found it to be of no benefit. Coaches "used" to say it helped with conserving energy. I couldn't get it to work for me. Ah, constant changes all the time.

A note for people new to backstroke: watch out for those backstroke flags in outdoor pools when the wind is blowing. Look at the line, not the flag for it will change your stroke count coming into the wall before flipping over!!!

I love backstroke!!!

Donna

Alphathree
November 3rd, 2006, 09:11 AM
Well I just had my first experience in a public pool during a 'fitness and rec' swim without my instructor.

HOLY CRAP, it was a whole different ball game.

There were EIGHT PEOPLE in the two lanes designated for recreation, and they were swimming LAPS. Slow laps, but laps.

That meant I had no where to just practice floats or anything like that unless I stuck very close to the sides of the pool.

I swam maybe four or five laps of backstroke myself -- not all at once -- but all of the turbulance in the water (I usually swim alone with my instructor) meant I got water in my eyes, nose, and mouth all the time.

I can do a peaceful backstroke when I'm alone with my instructor... today, I felt anything BUT peaceful today with all the other swimmers.

My first lap I went the wrong way down the lane and ran into some poor guy to whom I profusely apologized... the lifeguard subsequently told me which way to go =P

Further, since I can't really swim straight when I add in my strokes, I was primarily just kicking, which was good practice, except that it was entirely too slow, even for the "rec" lanes.

As I got more tired, it was harder to do proper kicks from a proper body position, and I got that awful feeling of kicking harder and harder and going slower and slower. That's when I decided to call it a day.

I think I need to invest in my own pool. =(

Oh well, I'll try the rec swim tomorrow...

geochuck
November 3rd, 2006, 09:19 AM
I am sure happy a backstroker has come on because I get sea sick when I swim backstroke. It is not my favorite. The only thing was at the end or finish of the stroke our coach had us do a slight hand scull with the palm down. He said this gave the legs the lift.

The other thing you should not clench your teeth relax the jaw. I like each shoulder to come out as you recover the arm so no water splashes on the arm before it enters the water.

Just a note when kicking on the back in a crowd scull at you hips to help with bouyancy. Look at the ceiling to go straight.

Alphathree
November 3rd, 2006, 09:29 AM
Question: where's a good place (geochuck: in Ontario, Canada =)) to buy some goggles?

geochuck
November 3rd, 2006, 09:37 AM
All the pools have stores and usually carry goggles. I used to buy mine when I lived in Hamilton at Kenneskies Sports. They used to make Goalie pads for the NHL. Any place that sells swim wear. I now live in BC but if you live in Ontario see if SWIMCO is there, they sell goggles. If you live in Kitchener http://www.aquagoggles.com/

Here are the listings for stoes that sell aqua spear gear they should all have swim gogles. http://www.aquasphereusa.com/fr/canada_fr.html

Costco has googles most of the time.

islandsox
November 3rd, 2006, 11:47 AM
Geochuck: Seasick? There must be an awful lot of body movement or head movement going on (LOL).

Alphatree: 8 people in two lanes is 6 people too many!!! No wonder you had such a "wonderful" experience.

Because I live on an island and there is no such thing as goggles here, I use the website pureblueswim.com and order all my swim goodies from them. My favorite goggles are Racetech by Tyr ($9).

I want to mention that because backstroke requires a tremendous kick, I always used the red zoomers because they develop great hamstring strength and foot flexibility. I probably spent more time kicking than swimming backstroke. Thousands of yards. My Masters swim coach would actually give me a lane to myself twice a week and I would kick for one hour straight.

And just to throw this in, be sure to kick with your arms over your head, hands clapsed together. What this does is promote proper body position and it lifts your diagraphram up slightly reducing air volumes in your lungs. After all, when you swim backstroke, your arms are constantly moving over your head and the air volumes are decreasing because of it. Might as well get accustomed to this. And secondly, you know you are kicking incorrectly if your knees are breaking the water surface--that's a no-no.

I still love Backstroke!!!

Donna:groovy:

geochuck
November 3rd, 2006, 12:24 PM
Islandsox I did not always get sea sick this happened after about 5 years of swimming in the marathon races and I had not swum backstroke for 15 years. After the introduction of swimming goggles if I wear goggles when on my back I get violently ill. With all the chemicals in the pool you have to wear goggles to protect your eyes.

Alphathree
November 3rd, 2006, 01:09 PM
"be sure to kick with your arms over your head, hands clapsed together."

Thanks -- that's a great tip.

Like you, I've been drilling my kick on my back without the strokes a lot... but my instructor insists that I do it with my arms at my sides, which I've always found unnatural.

I will DEFINITELY try it with my arms forward and clasped, as it makes a lot of sense and I think it'll feel better.

Part of me wants to swim, swim, swim and get good at freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke and part of me wants to practice my kicking day and night until its perfect before I continue with the strokes.

I find that when I get my body position and my kick/ankles just right, I can glide with ease without strokes... and when I get it wrong, no amount of strokes can save me. Therefore it seems to make sense to keep working on my kick, even if I do feel a bit dumb only adding in strokes once in a while.

Incidentally I've never been taught breaststroke but I tried it today and I realized that I can "just do it". It's a completely natural stroke for me. Now of course I can't do it WELL, but it seems to be a great beginner stroke. The kick comes naturally to me.

I don't put my head under when I do it... I just use it for short-distance maneuvering in the pool since backstroke is awkward for that purpose and I'm not much good on front crawl yet.

Treading water is still totally impossible. I was in the deep end for a good twenty minutes experimenting with sculling, scissor kicks, bicycle kicks, egg beater kicks, and furious uncontrolled kicking. I had a life "belt" on, so it was hard to tell, but I didn't feel like I got any lift from ANY of those things.

islandsox
November 3rd, 2006, 01:33 PM
Oh, I see now what you are saying about the seasickness. That is strange though that wearing goggles during backstroke has such an affect on you. But, like you said, it is imperative that we swim with goggles. In backstroke, they do keep the water out of the eyes and on sunny days, those dark ones sure do help!!! I didn't use clear or blue lenses until I gave up backstroke and starting swimming freestyle.

Donna

Concho Pearl
November 3rd, 2006, 09:40 PM
Alpha,

When I swim backstroke I try to find a place in the ceiling to try to follow, even some of us backstrokers starting to swim again can wonder around the lane a bit, until we get back into the flow. Oh, try not to let your hand slap the water, the hand should enter pinky first.

Try treading water next to the deep end or where you can still touch.
This way if you get into trouble you can get to where you can touch bottom quickly.

Oh, FYI no fog googles still fog, it was suggested to me on this board that before you get your googles wet, spit into them or some use no fog spray.

I rub it all around the inside of the goggles, dip them under the water to wet the inside and put them on, don't take them off your head until your done, you can pull them up and rest them on the top of your head, but don't take them off, until your done swimming.

I took mine off one time before I was done swimming, came back and they began to fog, lost the slime I guess.

KaizenSwimmer
November 3rd, 2006, 09:57 PM
One more question about this "S-curve" business. My understanding is that you're supposed to make a slight "S" with your hand so that you're always pushing against still water.

If you're as new to swimming as your post suggests - several weeks experience - don't worry about "S-curves." Instead focus on getting comfortable and eliminating wasteful movements.

To be more comfortable in backstroke:
1) Relax back until your ears are underwater and the water wraps around your goggles. Keep your head still enough that you could carry a champagne glass on your forehead.
2) Shape your torso and legs a bit like a canoe or torpedo.
3) Lean on your upper back until your hips and legs feel light.
4) Rotate enough so that each shoulder clears the water.
5) Imagine your arm as a rifle barrel as it comes overhead on recovery.
6) Slice your hand in the water pinkie first, as cleanly as you can.

Spend at least an hour focused on each of these until they begin to feel like no-brainers.

Alphathree
November 4th, 2006, 08:47 AM
If you're as new to swimming as your post suggests - several weeks experience - don't worry about "S-curves." Instead focus on getting comfortable and eliminating wasteful movements.

To be more comfortable in backstroke:
1) Relax back until your ears are underwater and the water wraps around your goggles. Keep your head still enough that you could carry a champagne glass on your forehead.
2) Shape your torso and legs a bit like a canoe or torpedo.
3) Lean on your upper back until your hips and legs feel light.
4) Rotate enough so that each shoulder clears the water.
5) Imagine your arm as a rifle barrel as it comes overhead on recovery.
6) Slice your hand in the water pinkie first, as cleanly as you can.

Spend at least an hour focused on each of these until they begin to feel like no-brainers.

Thanks I will try as many of those in the pool today as I can.

geochuck
November 4th, 2006, 10:06 AM
1) Relax back until your ears are underwater and the water wraps around your goggles. Keep your head still enough that you could carry a champagne glass on your forehead.

5) Imagine your arm as a rifle barrel as it comes overhead on recovery.


1) Dont let the water wrap to far around the googles or you will be drinking water.

5) Don't shoot that arm over and slap the water place it in the water.