Looking Fast vs. Being Fast

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The following blog is a guest post from Master Total Immersion Coach Dave Cameron from Minnesota. I studied under Dave to become a certified Total Immersion coach back in August and always enjoy his thoughts on swimming. Dave studies swimming as a science and practices it himself at a level that few others acheive (Dave has completed two English Channel crossings). I encourage you to check out his site at www.distancedave.com

Looking Fast vs. Being Fast
by Dave Cameron

There are dozens of before and after videos online of TI swimmers who have taken a workshop. They’re kind of like the before and after videos shown when someone goes through a weight loss or strength building program. Both require a change not just in physical application, but in thought process and focus.
I like to think of it as coming in with front crawl and learning freestyle at the workshop. It’s that much of a different stroke.
This example is one of the best. Shinji is now the CEO of Total Immersion, but like most clients, he started with his own assumptions of what the stroke should be. Many of my swimmers assume that the first stroke shown is the faster one, but stop and ask these questions:

■Where is energy being sent in each stroke?
■How much body is presented for frontal resistance?
■How is rotation accomplished? Does it use pulling and bouncing or a shift of weight and hip leverage?
■How much power is aimed in a practical direction?
■How relaxed and sustainable does each stroke look?
■Where are the opportunities for injury, fatigue, or strain in each stroke?
After you’ve sorted through those questions, notice how quickly the name markers glide by when Shinji has adjusted his stroke. It looks lazy, but it is still fast. Which one do you look like?

Don’t let land-based assumptions about cadence or tempo rule your focus in generating swimming speed. Even at the highest rates of speed, many of the fastest swimmers take fewer strokes and have a slightly lower rate than swimmers who are a tier below them. What’s the point of putting so much power into an object that is built to slow down? Rebuild the vessel instead and then come back to discover different avenues to power.

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