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The energy cost of an athlete weighing 70 Kg that corrects a kilometer is about 70 Kcal. Swimming the same kilometer costs, to an athlete who had the same economy as the first one, about 280 Kcal. Why is there such a difference? The answer is in friction: water is almost 1000 times denser than air, a formidable barrier to our bodily form.

Unfortunately, we have not been given a form and an instinct that are proper to fish; We are terrestrial beings, and we try to apply what works in our world even in the water. These skills, however, are rarely effective in the fish world. To become efficient swimmers, you need to change the way you think about moving in water.

To assign a magnitude order, a sprinter swim at the speed of the world record at 100 m (about 8 km / h) uses a power of about 1000 W. There are fishes that are able to swim at 110 Km / h Speed ​​of a cheetah), with frighteningly reduced energy consumption. A blue toned whalebone of 100 tons, at the cruising speed of 30 km / h, should be around 350 Watts, yet it uses less than 70 (Georgia Tech University physics calculations).

Essentially, there are two ways to be quicker in water. The first is decreasing friction by aligning the body better. The second is increasing propulsion by improving aerobic and anaerobic functioning. Of these two, scientific studies have found that reducing friction has the potential to produce the greatest gains. Friction is the driving force behind slowing down caused by the turbulence that is generated around the body when it moves in the water. The more the body is aligned, the lower the value of the friction forces.

An authoritative study estimates that the opportunity to improve performance obtainable by working only on the water position is greater than twice as long as it can only be achieved with work directed solely on the propulsion part, and this would be particularly true among the triathletes. Our instinct from "terrestrial" animals suggests the opposite, and therefore we waste countless hours in the pool, suffering to reach an optimal physical fitness to fight against friction, giving little or no importance to the technical skills needed to really swim.

On the ground, we instinctively know that to run faster we have to move our legs faster, and so we carry this "knowledge" in the water. The problem is that this water solution does not pay. The faster we move our arms and the more water works against us. The solution is to work on the other variable, increasing the length of the arm or, for many triathletes, decreasing the arm frequency. Again, scientific research has shown that swimmers who produce the best results in speed and economy of gesture are the ones that have the longest arm. A good indicator of improvement in the swim gesture economy is the number of arms you need to swim in a bathtub. Reducing that number is the safest way to swim to your personal record at any distance.

We develop the habit of counting the arm for each bathtub, and let's aim for 10% less. Once we have succeeded, which is only possible by working on technical efficiency rather than physical fitness, we try to prolong the time for which we can keep that count. Once we can do it for over 2 ', it means that it's time to give us a new target in the arm count, and so it starts again.

The best way to swim better times is by optimizing the ability to reduce friction, so it is more sliding and similar to fish, not by increasing the feet of your seats or the propulsion that they would only do The harder the battles with the water. Instead of trying to overwhelm it, we try to develop the ability to slip into it by wasting a small amount of energy. The best way to get these skills is to have a capable and far-sighted coach on the tank, but that is not always enough. We need each of us to develop the right sensibility.

Reducing friction

Probably Terry Laughlin is the largest authority on swimmers and friction studies that we currently have in the US. Through his studies and publications, he promotes the concept that swimming is based on three concepts, fundamental to optimizing the advancement in water. The success of those who followed his analysis are in the eyes of everyone - just ask Popov, Thorpe and Phelps. Below I summarize what are the three basic principles and an exercise for each of them.

·         Swim "downhill". The most common complaint, especially among the triathletes, is that they do not feel good floating. In fact, what lies down is the legs and hips, because the upper part has a buoyancy due to large air pockets (lungs, in the first place, and all the organs). When the lower part of the body sinks, it increases the front friction surface because a greater percentage of the body is exposed to the flow of water that comes in the opposite direction. Just as aerodynamics on the bike requires a decrease in frontal surfaces, in the same way hydrodynamics are optimized if the frontal surface is minimal.

What controls the position of hips and legs relative to the surface of the water is the head. When the head is lifted, the legs sink. So, if you swim with your head looking forward, your legs and legs lower and no longer pass through the "cylinder" that the bust has created in the water: a bit like getting an anchor! The only way to increase speed is to work on propulsion, creating even more friction.

If, however, you lower your head resting on your chest, your hips and legs will lift up following your chest in the cylinder. When done correctly, only a small portion of the head will be above the hair of the water, such as the buttocks. These are the signs that you are swimming "downhill", and this can be confirmed by a bathtub observer or videotape, which can testify to the difference between the normal position and the downward slope.

Learning to lean on the chest - "pushing the boom down", as Laughlin says, is the most important skill to achieve in swimming technique. As long as this technical aspect is not fully acquired, there will be no reason to move on to new exercises. One way to develop this sensitivity is to swim with SLgambe a bathtub, without the tablet, with the arms around the body. When you are advancing in this position, keep your head looking down to the bottom while tilting down on your chest (the "boa"), trying to push it down. When you lift your head forward to breathe, you can notice the immediate sinking of legs and legs, but you can bring them back horizontally by summing up the starting position with your bust and head tilted down.

·         Swim "like a knife". On the ground, we keep mammals holding the shoulder line perpendicular to the direction of movement. This works best in the least dense air, but in the water it causes more friction because the frontal surface is maximum. They swim by the side, as they do fish, they waste less energy and go faster. This position also makes it possible to use the powerful dorsal muscles (latissimus dorsi) at best: so you get the double benefit of producing less friction and increasing the propulsion force.

Swim on the side requires the roll of shoulders and shoulders around the spine. This maneuver must be felt as if you were to turn on your back, and this is unnatural: it requires some practice because you get used to it. An exercise to improve comfort in the lateral position is "navel towards the wall". You swim, that is, a tub at SLgambe lying, for example, on the left side, with your left arm lying up and your right arm on your hip. The nape is pushed toward the left biceps of the left arm and the face is rotated upward. The next bathtub will change position, stretching the right arm. Always remember to push the chest (the "boa") down: doing an exercise does not exclude the attention from the previous ones! Once you feel comfortable in the side position, you can try to roll from side to side, changing position every 3 ". When done, you must bring your arm from hip to the hip very slowly , So you can see how the body floats change while the arm moves. Once this has reached the shoulder height, it rolls into the right position by moving the rolling motion from the hips, to bring both arms upside down. Keep position for 3 "always focusing on the lower head and chest thrust and then, starting moving from the hips again, you can roll on the other side where you will stand for another 3" and so on.

·         Swim "taller". Looking at elite swimmers, an appearance appears immediately noticeable: they fully extend their hand and arm after entering the water at the take-off stage, and this allows them to swim at high speed with arms that appear long, never hurried. This results in a lower arm frequency but in a higher metric development which, as seen, is associated with lower frictions and optimized economy. In addition, the gum starts from the hip, with a minimum knee bend, further stretching their position in the water. This, among other things, allows them to reduce friction by keeping the legs in the cylinder described above.

Swim with a long arm, which includes a sliding and grip stage while staying on one side requires constant practice to make it a habit. Arm counting for each bathtub, trying to reduce the number, is a way to control how well you are doing. An exercise to try to optimize stretching in the water requires that you swim an alternating tank, alternating SL, using only one arm while the other is fully lying in the grip position. When the propulsive arm starts its arm, it rolls on its side as in the exercise described above, stretching as high as possible with the arm fixed. At the end of the arm, the recovering hand touches the one that has remained stationary while rolling into the pronoun position. At this point the limb starts to hold the limb that had been stopped earlier. This exercise is called "catch-up". It is essential that you always keep pushing your head and chest down all the way up the arm, even when lying on one side.


The swimming training

As it would be crucial to understand as soon as possible, you need to change the way you see the swimming training, considering it more like a "work" or "work" series. Just as golfers spend hours trying to fine-tune the swing and tennis players endlessly repeat the service, triathletes should devote considerable amount of time to finishing the technique, with exercises but above all with great concentration on the correct engine patterns. There are two ways to look at the distribution of time spent in the pool at the technique exercises. One is seasonal and has to do with the introduction of a stage where swimming sessions are almost exclusively technical, a step to be introduced within the annual training plan. Another way is to enter exercises within a given session.

·         Periodization. The Introductory Period is the time of the year where you can work exclusively on the technique. The goal to be pursued is to correct any errors in the arm that may have been inserted into the gesture dynamics, returning to the basic exercises as described, making them more complex. It is also a good time for video tapes to be used to analyze the gesture. While in Basic Preparation, while working on basic skills, a good amount of technical work has to continue: the poorest triathletes can spend more than 50% of their time in the water for technical work. When intensity increases in pre-agonist and agonist phases, care must be taken to ensure that the good arming mechanics developed in the previous months does not deteriorate in the search for pushing the speed to higher levels. In most cases, this results in a return to a higher arm frequency because this is the teaching of our instincts from land. You must constantly review and refresh muscle memory by entering technique exercises in each session at any time of the year.

·         Session per Session. The best time to do technical exercises is when you are cool at the beginning of each practice. Developing new patterns of muscle fiber recruitment means to be able to find harmony so that every muscle can contract and relax with the correct timing for the desired movement to occur. If even one of these muscles is fatigued, this will refuse to work, or will do so with a non-optimal succession of retirement-time, frustrating our efforts to improve the technique. At the beginning of each session, after a brief warm-up, muscles and nervous system are receptive to the maximum to learn new movements.

Towards the end, when the general fatigue of the body and local of each muscle begins to make their appearance, concentration on the correct technique is crucial to improve. There is no value in practicing a correct gesture and then abandoning everything that has worked when the actual workout starts.

The total devotion to change is needed to get better. You have to be prepared for an initial fall in performance and confidence in the goodness of what you are doing, because new and incomplete capabilities will only give you an initial impression of "going backwards instead of going forward." When focusing on arm mechanics, other swimmers who usually manage to "beat" in training might be more competitive. In these moments you need to stay focused on the ultimate goal: swim faster in the race, wasting less energy! Trying to "win" workouts could cost you dearly when then winning really counts.

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