Case Study: Tessene
Just starting out in the competitive world - Tessene is now doing club training twice a week which mainly focuses on endurance and stamina and so they came to SwimExpert lessons looking for technique.
The stroke they primarily requested focus on was backcrawl which we spent 10 lessons tweaking with an end goal of making her stroke, transition into tumble turns and out into a second length more effective, confident and overall - faster!
The lesson structure
Our instructor introduced the concept of B.L.A.B.T which uses a five point principle of building the stroke from the ground up and diagnosing faults along the way with the hope that the final product will look massively improved.
BLABT focuses on areas of the body and aspects of the stroke and I asked her to visualise this as four pillars with a roof on top:
T I M E
B L A B
O E R R
D G M E
Y S S A
We began by focusing on her body position and tackling the fact that she dipped too far on her dominant shoulder which caused her other shoulder to pop too high out of the water. She also tended to twist her head slightly to watch each arm as it came over though the focus is meant to be on the ceiling with the head staying as still as possible. The other effect of her dominant side was that when she pushed off the wall she veered off to one side (not a good thing if she's in confines of a lane or surrounded by other swimmers!) We worked on equal pressure being forced through the feet as she pushed off the wall and then keeping her head still while her shoulders rolled. To maintain this we asked her to swim with a full cup of water on her head and focus on not spilling a drop!
Her kick was also weak and this affected her leg position - they tended to droop noticably towards the floor and as a result the drag this created stopped her from gaining any momentum. It also meant that because she wasn't using her legs for propulsion or balance that the sway created by the over hitching shoulder caused her to snake through the water rather than cutting a clean line.
Her homework on many occasions was to sit on the sofa during a televsion show she liked and see if she could maintain a fast and loose kick for the whole advert break without slowing or stopping and on other occasions she was told to practice running on the spot as fast as she could while still doing backstroke arms smooth and slow. This contrast in movement speed allowed her get the best out two key areas: legs and arms and linking into this - her timing. By keeping her legs small and fast and arms smooth and slow she made both areas more efficient and as a bi-product she got faster!
A big niggle that we worked on was her arms which needed far more whip once they reached the catch position. Since the catch is crucial to ensuring the propulsive phase is effective we worked hard on the correct angle her hand should reach to get the best grip on the water and then we tried to make her pull on the water more whip like and closer to the line of her body. Since she was now using the propulsive elements of the stroke more effectively she found that she wasn't wasting energy and though she was still swimming faster she was now swimming smarter!
Tessene though ambitious and hard working lacked a little bit of the fight spirit necessary to get her game face on before a race. We did some drama based work to get her visualising her opponents, racing against the clock and imagining something with big teeth was behind her! All these little games helped her to feed off of adrenaline and get mentally focused on her speed and efficiency.
With regards to her turns she was nervous about hitting the wall and it was necessary to start off tidying up her turn away from the wall which at times could get a bit sloppy but after practice her turns got tighter with no stray arms or legs and she was able to start aiming for a particular spot on the wall and then chanelling the pressure on the push off to make sure she bounced back out of the turn without wasting any time or creating unncessary drag.
By the end of the 10 lessons Tessene was able to efficiently swim competitive backcrawl and execute tight, neat tumbleturns. She reported being faster in the training - able to cut time off from turning quicker and feeling less out of breath at the end of each set due to swimming smarter. Not to mention...she found her "fight spirit"!
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Sarah (Fleet) (Adult Beginner)
I can’t speak highly enough of my instructor at swim expert. Five weeks ago I could not swim at all and wasn’t very confident in the pool. Now I can swim confidently on my front and back and love getting in the water now! My tutor is very patient and has a great way of making you feel relaxed. I would definitely recommend you go for it, if you are contemplating learning to swim - it’s never too late!