This is one of my favorite swimming topics. For many of you that watch swimming during the Olympics, you may catch yourself saying “wow they make it look so easy”. Sure they swim countless hours of the day and do other types of training, but it is also because professional athletes have “Easy Speed”. What is easy speed? It’s simple, easy speed is simply being efficient in the water. What happens every time you take a stroke? A lot of things actually, but we are going to focus on two things. These two things are, first and foremost you hopefully will move forward in the water when you take a stroke, second you use energy to move your arm through the water. Sadly humans don’t have an infinite amount of energy and every stroke you take you are using up the energy that you have. So it makes sense to use what energy you have wisely, right? Easy speed not only makes your race easier, it also makes you faster!
So lets break it down, each stroke has a catch, pull, and recovery. For this we will focus on freestyle. Just like most strokes the recovery doesn’t push you forward, the recovery is just used to get you back to the beginning of your pull. The two important parts are the catch and the pull, those are what help you move forward in the water. Since we are talking about easy speed and being efficient it I must address a commonly overlooked part of the stroke, the catch. In order to grab the water you have to adjust your hand so it is basically flat against the water so your hand and arm press against as much water as possible. In order to get as much from your pull you have to have a complete pull, meaning that you have to make a half circle from the top of the water (with your palm down) all the way back to your leg (with your palm up). One of the most common things that swimmers do is not finish their stroke, they are then forced to do more strokes to get across the pool. Lets say a swimmer is doing 75% of their pull and is able to get across the pool in 16 strokes. If that same swimmer was doing a full 100% pull they would only have to take 12 strokes! It is easier to take 12 strokes to go 25yds than it is to take 16 strokes. So having easy speed goes back to using your brain while you swim, if you use your brain and tell your muscles to finish your stroke rather than letting your tired muscles take the easy way and do 75% of the stroke, you will be faster and have more energy to use. So I urge my penguins to take long full strokes, but remember that you can take a long full stroke and move your arms at a fast tempo to go full speed.
Until next week…