15
Sep
09

Swim Smooth – The Dark Side

Ok, ok, there is no dark side to Mr. Smooth, that I know of. I just made the title sound controversial to get you to click on the link.

My friend sent me to SwimSmooth.com the other day which, as a triathlete, I found interesting since I’m always trying to figure out how to swim faster while expending less energy. But could I trust Mr. Smooth, if that is his real name? I asked my triathlon coach David Warden, and got the following answer:

All,

Due to the many inquiries I have had on my opinion of Swim Smooth (http://www.swimsmooth.com) from athletes, Tri Talk subscribers, and associates, I hope you don’t mind if I respond to all of you at once!

First, of all the concepts in I coach triathlon, swim coaching is my weakness. I’m very good at scheduling swim frequency, swim volume, swim intensity, and swim tapering, but I am not very good at swim technique. You’re getting the opinion from someone who does not know what they are talking about.

However, here is what I really like about the program:

– Once Mr. Smooth starts his “catch”, his fingers stay pointing down for the remainder of the stroke, even as he starts the recovery. This is something I have not considered or heard of before in swim training, but it really resonates with me. Can’t wait to try it in my swim tomorrow.
– As the hands enter the water, the fingers are lower than the wrist, wrist lower than elbow, and elbow lower than shoulder. In fact, if you look at the top view, this shows up very well as the elbow and shoulder are the last to submerge below the water on the arm.
– Front view shows the hands not crossing the center line of the body.
– Great kick, very little knee movement.
– I like his momentum, very little pause and very little gliding.

What I don’t like:

– His head seems very high in the water. If you draw a line from the top of his head to the top of his butt, that is a significant angle. I question whether any swimmer can maintain that high of a hip placement with the head that high in the water.
– I perceive over-rotation in Mr. Smooth and the hips and shoulders rotating at the same degree. Too much empirical data on improved velocity from moderate rotation and shoulder and hip rotation being separate.
– He does not perform what I would consider front-quadrant swimming. As the recovery hand hits the water, the stroking hand is almost behind the head.
– He appears to breath out the entire time his head is under the water. I’m not a fan of this. Plus, set the stroke rate to 45 (a reasonably paced cadence) and tell me if you honestly think you could breath out the entire time during that bi-lateral breathing rotation at that pace.
– “Mr.” Smooth appears androgynous from the waist down. This makes me nervous. I need clarity in my life.

Overall, a great tool. As mentioned above, I’m going to incorporate the “fingers down” approach first thing tomorrow. I think that people will see in it what they want to see. Like me, it will help them reinforce what they believe to be swim gospel.

David