We now coach breaststroke and butterfly as the short axis strokes and the drills, for the most part apply to both strokes. I look for streamline – the number one thing is streamline. Coach Joseph Nagy, Mike Barrowman’s coach called it was the base position and you return to that position every single stroke in breaststroke. I talk about fast hands and I am not talking just accelerating here. The entire stroke is extremely fast. I talk about finishing the kick with very fast feet. You see a lot of big tall breaststrokers with slow lazy feet – I have drills to make them faster.
A lot of coaches’ talk and swimmers from the Olympics talk about flying over the top of the water and I think they have it all wrong. You are faster under water and I will show you slides that will prove that these guys who say they are flying over the water – they are spending the majority of their time under water. I also do a two hunch system. Most people know about the hunch where you narrow yourself down before your hands go forward. I have added another hunch and that hunch alone will cut a half a second per fifty for your swimmers.
I coach non-traditional breathing. My swimmers never breathe the first stroke up. They have been under water for six or seven seconds – they never breathe the first stroke up. There is no real reason to and also coming to the walls or coming in to the finish, they do not breathe – usually three or four strokes and I have got some devotees around the country that on a 200 breaststroke they breathe every other stroke. It looks beautiful. They are doing lifetime bests and that is 10 year old girls and 47 year old guys who have made All-American so it works on all age groups.
The drills work for everything. Now I also coach non-traditional pull downs and years ago we used to talk about just going straight out and then angling up. You have to work on it – every swimmer is different. There are some swimmers who are never going to make 12 or 13 yards. There are some swimmers like Kurt Grote who won the Goodwill Games. He was an Olympic gold medallist in 1996, he could go 15 meters under water because he went down and then up. I have a friend and coach at Buffalo who recommends a one second pull out to come up to the surface. Like all breaststrokers you have to fit the under-water stroke to the swimmer. The new World Record holder Kitajima is only 5’ 8” and yet there is a new video out with Dave Denniston who was on the American team – he is 6’ 3”. You cannot coach those two swimmers the same. My swimmers from the time they get to me are taught streamline. We do a lot of peer modeling. They look at each other – they shoot the hands forward so they are in the streamline the maximum amount of time and I always tell them – every single workout – I tell them that the more time they spend in the streamline the faster and easier it will be.
They will come back up after Junior Olympics or a major regional Masters meet and tell me, “It was easy”. I agree, because you spent it all on streamline and that is part of every single stroke, as well as under water. This is a modern streamline. (Demonstrating the hands behind the ears) A lot of us were coached to put our hands over our ears. This new streamline is worth 1-2 yards for free on butterfly, backstroke, and freestyle.
You actually have to work really hard to get into this position. A lot of breaststrokers including myself are very heavily muscled. But I can get in a tight new streamline. When I push off the walls I get from 13-15 yards off of every push-off because of the new streamline. Prior to that I was doing 11 yards, so I am getting 2-4 yards more off of the new streamline. Describing the old streamline that most of us know and is in most of the books is called the superman. Your hands are next to your ears and you are squeezing them tight. This particular new streamline can get the broad shoulders of a backstroker almost 3-4 inches total width less and heavily muscled breaststrokers easily 4 inches so you are going for maybe 18 inches wide to 14 inches wide. Everything is head in line with the spine so this guy here has typically the old swayback and
I have my young girls, 10-12 year old that are going to Junior Olympics, I have them look in a full view mirror at home because they love to do that. I have the girls and the guys look at each other in practice because they will tell each other exactly when you are hunched. Sometimes they drop their head too much. Everything has to be perfectly in line. (Showing photo) Now this guy is really not on in a good streamline. That is the old style streamline. What we are trying to illustrate here is back and hip position and you can see that lying down will help, but it is really hard to get them to remember that so I make them do it in a mirror. A full length mirror – I have the parents go and buy them one. That is the only way to really practice because it is too easy doing it on the floor, except for the first time they do it. Once they can get it perfect and then after that we go with the full length mirror. (Showing slide of backstroker) Now this I believe is Natalie Coughlin. (photo of backstroker in streamline) She is extremely muscled. Her hands are behind her neck and if you were to look at her from the side she is absolutely arrow straight. The real secret to this streamline is being able to lock the thumb over the other hand like she is doing. That alone and pushing out away makes your streamline go an extra yard or two. If you don’t lock there is a good chance that when you dive in on breaststroke your hands will go apart. Locking it assures that you get into the streamline with the hands behind the neck and that is something that you want to do off of every single wall.
Now initially you will only get one yard. After a while, your swimmers might be getting two yards for free each length for a 200 breaststroke, 16 yards total for free. That means that you have more energy left over because it doesn’t take any energy to do this, although it takes a lot of flexibility. For me to do it, Marty Hull, former Guru at Stanford – (he developed the Zoomers) – also developed the Range Of Motion strap – a ROM strap and I hang from it so I can get my shoulders into that tight a streamline. I cream people off the starts and I cream people off the walls and I am not body wise streamlined at all.
Next, the importance of drills. In six months you can have your swimmers cut their times by one second per length or four to six seconds in the 200, by doing some of these drills. Age group coaches can get their swimmers slightly stronger, high school kids and college kids – they can usually get them stronger. Masters swimmers are not going to get significantly stronger in six months. To get stronger is at least a two or three year program and even then you are not going to get Masters swimmers that much stronger.
What I look for is increasing hand and foot speed and here is the power equation. Power is equal force, which is how strong you are multiplied by distance, divided by time. We coaches are all looking for more distance for the most part. You know, you are trying to have the long pull and scull on freestyle and backstroke, but you divide it by time. Well some people’s pull is half a second and others with fast hands it can be 3/10 of a second. When you do that equation, the ones that are doing 3/10 of a second has far more power and it is the power that you are applying in the water that counts.
This is a drill (mpeg video) that I use. I got from Terry Laughlin off of his video and it is sculling as fast as you can with your head up and I actually make them press the “T”, press the chest down the whole way. This guy is an All-American Masters swimmer, about 47. He is in very good shape but he is actually dying after about 20 yards. You can do a dolphin kick, flutter kick. Now the thing about this drill is that is the way I want them to pull or to scull in breaststroke. The same way – so in my drills, when I transition – we are doing body dolphin, body dolphin, I make them do that and then I make them swim it with exactly the same hand speed. When you watch the world class breaststrokers their hands are so fast you can barely see them.
Now, back when I was first swimming, 1961 or something the coach came up and said Wayne, I want you to pull over a barrel. There are no new ideas, but many of the world class swimmers, including the Olympic champ from 2000, Domenico Fioravanti does a butterfly type pull and it fits perfectly into all your short axis stroke drills where you are coaching butterfly and breaststroke exactly the same way. We are going to do a butterfly pull instead. It does a couple of things. One is because you are eliminating extending the arms way out here. The butterfly pull it is faster and just like I was showing you. I want fast hands so that there is more time to glide. If they do not go wide out here like this they are going right out here like this, keeping the elbows up high and pulling back.
The one thing I hate that a lot of swimmers started doing when they saw Amanda Beard and some of these other women breaststrokers is this windshield wiper action. In truth, all the velocity forces are straight up and the swimmers get real high up. What they are doing is they are trying to make – when there used to be a pull, a pause where you almost stopped, a kick and you almost stopped and they were trying to eliminate that. If you are doing my way with fast hands, kick and glide you have already eliminated it. You are not having this huge drop-off in speed because you are going to be swimming it under water and I will show you that. Here is Agnes Kovacks (showing photo), she swam in the United States in college. I believe she got second at the World Championships a couple of years ago. As you notice it is a much more pronounced butterfly pull back down. There is absolutely no going out here like this, wide – with her stroke and a lot of the other women breaststrokers now. She could probably pull in a little tighter if she wanted to, but she is basically coming here and straight out again. I remember back about the mid 80s, we called it chicken wings – I actually had some airline pilots and they were coming straight out here like this and pulling in. The guys set personal bests and qualified for the top ten in the United States just by going straight out here.
There are lots of different ways – there are 55 different ways of pulling breaststroke and swimming breaststroke, but this I believe is the wave of the future because you are actually getting forward motion and I will show you some things in a minute on why I like it. Breaststroke is faster in the water. Some of you guys can remember back in the 1950s they swam 200 meters breaststroke under water. They would come up once in a while, the head would bop up – it took three to four years when the stroke went back to the surface that the times got as fast as when they were under water. I know a lot of Masters – we will race each other 25 meters under water or even a 50 under water with one breath at the turn and we are faster under water than we are on top. One of the things about the physics of breaststroke is when you are under water the resistance is squared. When you are on the water surface it is cubed so you have a lot more resistance. The more time you can spend with your head and your body in the streamline under water, the faster you are going to be and I have some great slides coming up on that.
Here is a fact that few coaches know – for every inch the head is lifted, the butt sinks two inches. I coach breaststroke and butterfly exactly the same. I don’t want my breaststrokers to have the piano on their back and be swimming this way. My swimmers swim like this all the time. They are swimming butterfly down hill and they love it. When they are screwing up I make them swim breaststroke the way we used to swim with our head up, their hips sink and they hate it. They think it is the most unusual form of punishment and it should be outlawed. Try it with your swimmers when you can not get them to swim wave style breaststroke, putting their head down. Make them swim the way we used to. Oh my goodness – the complaints.
The other thing is head position affects time. If you have 4/10 of a second on a pull, I want you to be 3/10 of a second and more time under water. I want those fast hands, kick and glide and it takes time if you are way up here like this to get your head back down under water. I want my swimmers to be just barely above the water surface to get their head under water quicker and spend more time gliding, because right after the kick – that is your fastest time.
I do what is called a one second drill. Here is a photo of Kurt Grote – he is in this nice position, head looking down and fast hands, kick and glide, hold the glide for one second, it works great. I actually have my kids and the Masters race that way in practice. They are going to change their technique a little bit in an actual race and we work on the actual race preparation too, but that one second drill works great.
I call this the base position and Richard Quick calls it – he has a new name for it in his breaststroke video. Here is Fioravanti (showing photo) and this is his actual stroke, one-a-thousand, one-a-thousand. He was one of the few who has ever won the Olympics in the 100 and 200. Here is full screen and the interesting thing is that the water actually is a mirror and you can see that his head is under water for a while, one a thousand, one a thousand. Now in truth, the other Italian over here, Romollo in this lane actually is looking down better. He is just not in as good a shape as Fioravanti. The American in the blue jammer trunks – look how far back he is pulling. That is a tenth of a second he has lost every stroke and if he does 25 strokes that is 2.5 seconds he has wasted. I hate that stroke. I don’t know why his coach would ever let him do that. Fioravanti, the Olympic champion, has more of a butterfly pull while Romollo has the more traditional out-scull and in-scull and in truth there is no power here. You are pushing water out to the side so you are not doing anything other than setting up your hands and it takes time to come out here. If you watch a breaststroker and say for each 1.8 seconds one a thousand that he is going they might go 8 feet. The pull part may be 2 feet at the most. The rest of it is kick and glide – six feet so in truth this whole part here is just a waste of time. Where are you going on this? The water is going out to the side, the only real power in the scull type of breaststroke, is the in-sweep. You get nothing. Back in my era, Tom Trethewey and others talked about how they sculled out and got power – they didn’t go anywhere. It was setting up for the in-sweep.
Coaches do you know what time each of your swimmers go for each stroke? Is it 1.2 seconds, is it 1.7, is it 2.0? Most 50-100 breaststrokers are somewhere between 1.2 and 1.7. The 200 breaststrokers can be as fast as 1.4 for a little 10 year old girl to 1.9 for big men. I have one guy that is 6 foot 4 and I am trying to get him to go faster. One of the things that they have over here in exhibitors is a little watch that beeps. For me I am like 1.68 seconds for my hundred and so if I want to maintain that and change my stroke, I just set it at 1.68 and maybe I want to go longer I will set it at 1.7. As a coach you can really make them get into their rhythm just on that timing because it beeps right in their ear. The Nova Aquatics and some of the other bigger clubs have started to use it. For every extra tenth of a second that you can stay in streamline you can cut a tenth of a second of your overall time. Now for world class athletes, that are doing 2:10 for 200 meters it may be a little less but for master swimmers it holds true. If I can add a tenth of a second under water to my swimmers and they do 25 strokes per length 50 meters it will cut their time by 2.5 seconds. The more they spend under water the faster their time is.
What I am doing is I am shortening the pull to make more time for the kick and glide. Now here is Fioravanti (showing photo) again and if you look frames 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 he is still streamlined. His hands are spread out a little bit but they are still inside the shoulder width and he is still within streamline. Frames 6, 7, 8 – he is already done with his pull because it is a very fast butterfly pull and goes very quickly. Frames 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14 he is finishing his kick, but by 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 he is streamline again so out of 1.8 seconds of his 200 breaststroke he is spending one full second in a streamline and quite a bit of it – I would say 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 1, 2, 3, he is completely under water. I am using this with the permission of Dr. Brent Rushall. He is an educator in the State of California college system. He runs the “SWIMMING SCIENCE JOURNAL” website. He is now having people pay to log on because he has got a lot of information that he spent a lot of time in. He teaches future coaches through an educational system here in California and is the Doc Counsilman of the United States now – very scientific. Everything is looked at and he has information on breaststroke, butterfly, freestyle – all the strokes – all the doping – all the sports physiology you will ever want – tremendous resource at a very low cost. I would highly recommend him for all coaches and swimmers – a fabulous resource.
If I did all the slides I wanted it would be a 2-3 hour presentation. (Question from audience) It is the Swimming Science Journal. Just go to Google or type in Brent Rushall and Google will find it and you are going to have to log in and receive a password.
Now here is the new world champion Kosuke Kitakima– he is the first man since 1961 to hold both breaststroke records – long course meters. Anybody remember the last one? Chet Jastremski 1961. He could kick 100 yard breaststroke in 1:08 – that is not a bad kick. You can not say he didn’t have a kick. Doc Counsilman himself used to downplay his kick. I am sorry; 1:08 is a good kick. With the style of kicking they did back then, that was good. Kosuke Kitakima (photo slide) this is his 100 stroke, and for 100 he does 1.5 seconds per stroke. In frames 1, 2, 3, 4, he is in streamline, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, he is done with his sculling and he has a little bit of ______ and then he comes back down again, more like a butterfly but not quite and then very fast kick and then he is spending more time in the glide so 1, 2, 3, 4 and 12, 13, 14, 15, he is in a streamline position. His coach talks about him spending so much time in the streamline. The other thing he does is he kicks and he puts his head under water. So many of the breaststrokers are now swimming with their head under water for a couple of tenths. I wish I had of his 200 breaststrokes and even this one is kind of blurry – Brent couldn’t get a real shot of him. On his web site he has these animated so you can see it. Again Dr. Rushall is a great resource for all coaches.
I briefly spoke earlier about my hunch system. I use the two hunch system. The first hunch is pulling in narrow like this girl from one of Michael Collins swimmers. (photo) She gets nice and narrow in here and gets very little water resistance and most coaches want that. Now the second hunch starts at this position here – now what I want you to do is pair off – everybody stand up and get next somebody else and just put your hands out. Now shake it out because you guys just had lunch. Just put your hands out and press down – no, no, no – with your partner – with your partner – get in close – get in close and press down. No, no, no – like this. Press down, press down ladies. Okay now – the second hunch is a butterfly. We coach breaststroke and butterfly the same. Butterflyers have this wonderful advantage – when their hands go forward they are now recruiting their lat muscles. My hunch is going forward; recruit your latissimus dorsi and trapezius muscles. Lift your shoulders up, now press. Three times the strength. Each of you try that. Now you are swimming butterfly. This hunch does two things. Notice when I go forward like this I am in a weak position and I still have to rotate. If I go forward and I hunch my shoulders my hands automatically turn thumbs down. I am going to do an out-skull, I am there or I am right there for a butterfly. Again, I want to recruit these lat muscles.
Everybody knows that breaststrokers are the least conditioned swimmers of all, so we make them do lots and lots of freestyle. We make them do butterfly to get them into shape. They are not as aerobically fit as your 400 freestylers, but they do lots of freestyle and what are they using? Their lats! It used to be breaststrokers had “Popeye” forearms because they were using their forearms. The forearms are poor muscles. They have no strength. Recruit those back lat muscles. Power, snap – the lat muscles never get tired compared to the forearm and biceps, so when my swimmers get done they are not burning here.
This is the first touch. All coaches do that, then as the hands are going forward, hunch, hunch, hunch – not only that but it actually makes for a very fast stroke – hunch/hunch, hunch/hunch. It just flows. In – out, but I’d physically lifting the elbows up high like you do in freestyle, elbows up high, shoulders recruited. When you are going this, the tendency is to rotate this way and you have never recruited the lat muscle. You can see some college swimmers do it – not all – I wish they all did it, but it is just recruiting the lat muscles by physically make them think about every single stroke and when they think about it, pretty soon they have have it nailed.
Now – head position: (photo) Auburn swimmer Maggie Bowen – I love the head position. I hate the high position of the girls coming completely out of the water. Like I said before, for every inch your head goes up, your hips sink two inches. Now you have some of these girls you know, 14 – 15, they can hyperextend their backs. Masters – none of your women can hyperextend. Here is photo of Michael Phelps – that was a year ago – his head is now lower this year and he clobbered the 200 and 400 IM record. He has really improved in breaststroke. (Photos of Piper and Ed Moses) Now, which of these two do you think is the faster swimmer, Ed Moses with his head down, head aligned with the spine or Piper? Piper is a full 1 to 1 ½ seconds behind Moses and it is all because of this poor head position. It takes time to get your head down and in that streamline position. Ed Moses – perfect head position for years. That is the first thing he learned was to put his head down.
Now for kicking drills. It used to kill me back in ’92 when you watched the Olympics and you watched the breaststrokers and the 400 IM’ers and of course the great ones were from Czechoslovakia and the feet would come together like this – (a foot apart) and I hated it. In 1996 they started getting closer and in 2000 every IM’ers smacked their heels together. All the breaststrokers – smacked their heels together. The American coaches and the coaches around the Western world got it. It is something – I was talking about Steve Lundquist and John Moffitt – they were in the 1984 Olympics. John used to tell me that he could crash his heels together so hard he could bruise them – he is a big strong bubba though and Steve Lundquist was no lightweight – “Mr. Chest” so the soles of the feet – I actually have the soles of the feet clap together.
A lot of swimmers – they point their toes at the end – you don’t need to do it. It is just psychologically some swimmers like to do it. Your feet are trailing inside this cone of water and so if you leave them pointing down it doesn’t hurt. There are two theories on finishing the kick; pointing at the end – coming together like that or pointing straight down. I like to point straight down my feet because you can actually feel your hips coming up and I want to start that next kick with my hips as high in the water as I can. I want to swim downhill like a butterflyer and I will do anything I can to get the hips up and swim downhill. It is so much easier to swim breaststroke that way. When your swimmers finish their kick I just tell them kind of let your hips rise. Let your hips rise on every kick and they come back and they go – it is so easy. Swimming downhill!
Now back to kicking drills. One of the pet peeves I have is coaches and they are usually freestyle coaches, say okay, breaststrokers grab that 10 pound weight and do eggbeater. Sit there and you know what? They are doing nothing. They are not developing what they need to develop. The real secret is speed because the faster your feet move the more power they develop. Also, most breaststroke swimmers never get tired kicking back. You don’t get tired. You guys have done thousands of laps like that, but when you are doing a race what gets tired is pulling the heels up to the butt. At the end of that 200 all out, the muscles get tired and you can no longer explode. So what I do on dry land, I have my swimmers sit on their backs and just bicycle pump. I have the same thing in the water which works out great. What I am trying to do, the faster the feet, reduce that time component – increase the power because you cannot increase the strength. You know, we are Masters – we are not going to get that much stronger. So, here is a drill done on their back. (Mpeg of forwards eggbeater) We typically start on their stomach. It is just all out pumping, pump, pump, pump. I just tell them, fast, fast, fast. The faster you can go the better – it is all out and in one length – this guy is an All-American – he can barely make 20 yards at this particular meet and this was a major meet, but he is dying right about now. I did this drill with my high school swimmers, and age group swimmers. We start them out one length and after a month they can go two lengths and there is always going to be some smart ass who is going to try to do a 50 right away and he is shot the rest of the workout. It’s that excruciating, that painful, but what it does is, at the end of a 200 or end of the 100, they are still sprinting while the other guy’s feet are slow. This one drill alone will cut your swimmers time half a second to a full second on a 50, 1-2 seconds on the 100 and 3-4 seconds on the 200 – just that one drill alone! We typically start on our stomach – all out – down the pool. I don’t do it in place. It is just like that – down the pool – on their back they get a little more air. (Question from audience) Nope, it is just strictly about pumping. It’s about recovering the legs up to the butt as fast as you can. See, this is a drill. I tell them, this is a drill. You are not going to kick this way. This drill is for one thing, recovery of the heels to the butt and there are not – I looked in Councilman’s book, I looked in Maglischo’s book, I looked on the internet – nowhere is this drill out there and it works – it works. I have used it for 15 years. I have had trained policemen for the police Olympics and they are dying, and then they go over to the police Olympics and come back with their gold medals. It works. Try it. They are going to hate it and love it at the same time. They have to do it religiously – once a workout for six months and at the end of the six months they ought to be able to do at least a 50 drill without dying. I have never had somebody do a full 100. They can’t do it, and I mean that is All-Americans.
Now to pull downs: It is 40% of your race. The biggest thing is I watch them and I make sure that there is no disturbance to the water on the surface because; if they are disturbing water on the surface they have now gone from the drag being square to the drag being cubed. A lot of men now go to the bottom of the pool and then angle up. You watch the NCAA’s and the Olympic type breaststrokers – they are going very deep. They are using their body’s buoyancy to power themselves up faster than they could swim.
Again, alternate timing. Some swimmers that just don’t have it are better off one second – pop to the surface. Others, like me, when I do a 200, I don’t even pull down– there is a line at the bottom of my pool, 12 ½ yards – I pull down. I come up 14-15 meters. I could show you a video of me in one of the nationals and at my 200 and I am getting a body length off of every length over the other guys you know, it’s easy. It is under water – you know, all breaststrokers – we train a lot of time under water. We are swimming lengths under water – its easy for us so you are under water half a second more from 6 ½ seconds you are going 7, but that is time that you are not spent working these muscles hard.
The other thing is my breaststrokers never breathe the first stroke up. I learned this the hard way. I was at Masters Nationals about seven years ago and come off the wall, I am first at the 25, come off the wall and breathed and it was like putting a parachute out. Ever since then, I put my head down, pull and don’t breathe and I gain on the first stroke. All my swimmers are doing that. Steve Lundquist said the first stroke up after the pull down should be the strongest and the hardest of the race. You don’t have to think about breathing, you just power through that first stroke up – you gain that one foot advantage over your competitor and you breathe the next stroke. Actually the good officials know it – the good officials know that the rules just say that your head has to break the water surface once per stroke. I strongly advise when you are working with your kids and masters that you sit there and make sure their head comes up out of the water because it is very easy to keep your head under water for that first stroke. That will get you DQ’d because as long as your head comes up and breaks that water surface during it and so you put all the power going forward rather than coming up and breathing so you can see them surge ahead and gain about a foot advantage, it really works.
(mpeg movie) Now this is a crazy breaststroker and he is never breathing. There he breathes – all these guys are wasting their effort breathing and this breaststroker isn’t breathing. Oh yeah – that was me. Now how do I go back? Okay – one of the things that I noticed when I took my physiology course from ASCA was that they said you don’t need to breathe for the first 40 seconds and so in Level III physiology course they talk about how a lot of NCAA’s male swimmers are now doing 42 seconds for the 100 yard freestyle and when you consider the dive, they have gone 40 seconds without breathing and many of them only breathing maybe once or twice in a 100 yard freestyle. There is no reason to breathe on a 50 of any stroke so NCAA’s, World Cup – when they do a 50 fly they do not breathe at all and they are doing 22.9 or something for 50 meters fly? They are doing almost under 20 seconds for 50 yards butterfly. I wrote to John Leonard and Guy Edson from ASCA and I said, why are we breathing in breaststroke? We don’t need to. In the World Cup there is $5,000 a race and some of the world cup people are writing me saying they are not breathing every time any because of that $5,000. If they can gain 1/10 of a second here or a tenth of a second there and if they set a new world record it is 25 grand in their pocket. That is a nice little pay-off.
Here is Steve Lundquist (mpeg movie) – he is one of my heroes and if you watch he doesn’t breathe the last four strokes in, and this Canadian over here that nobody remembers because he was second place. Steve Lundquist put his head down and didn’t breathe the last four strokes into the wall and he is Olympic champion and the other guy nobody remembers. Now I have heard from others NCAA and world champion type swimmers since then that they have done the same thing. One guy from Canada, Graham Smith, didn’t breathe the last like 10 meters and he died and lost the world championship so there is a fine line. You have to practice what you are going to do in that big meet and I guarantee you, Lundquist had practiced that. I have heard other swimmers say, I never told my coach that I breathe alternately or I never told my coach because he would have thrown me out of practice. Now, you have got to have a good relationship with your swimmers and let them know so that they can practice it in practice. I guarantee you Lundquist had a lot of no breathing laps and he knew he could finish it and Graham Smith probably never did it and he lost. If you can practice not breathing the last two or three strokes into the wall, say from the T on in or maybe then go out a little further from the T you might just win that national championship. You know, many times it is only a couple of tenths of a second between 1st and 8th place especially in the 50 meters races.
I have a lot of articles that you might want to look at at www.breaststroke.info
My bio – I am the Southern Pacific Masters Chairman. I am certified ASCA Level 5. I have been Masters National champion and All-American a couple of times. The biggest thing is that I have had stomach surgery for GERD, asthma, two broken elbows
If you look at the latest Swim Technique magazine, the Japanese coach talks about how his breaststroker, Kosuke Kitakima. He snaps his ankles and that is something I have always done and – he has taken it to a new level. I mean, his ankles come out here like this 90 degrees. There are 55 different ways of swimming breaststroke. Kurt Grote, John Moffett, Eric Wonderlic – some of the ones – I have had a lot of talking with the Stanford swimmers and they typically had this scull out and a fast scull in. They are big strong college swimmers that have 3 times the arm strength that the average Masters swimmer does, but if you look – a lot of the swimmers now are starting to pull it in.
I highly recommend these two DVDs – one has David Denniston, he is on the US team doing a life time best and the other one with Ed Moses – he is the fastest swimmer in the world – short course meters – he uncorked a great 100 meter breaststroke on the medley relay in 2000 and he is the only man really able, if he ever uncorks at long course meters, to break below 58. He is the fastest guy out there. He has the best start, best turns. He just never put it together in long course meters. He has done 2:03 for short course meters – 2:03 – my God. Didn’t he break like 1:50 – 1:49 for his yards I believe.
Now Dave Denniston is 6 foot 3. He has the best technique and I highly recommend this video would be the first one I would recommend. He swims with his head down. His coach keeps talking about looking down. I also get a feeling that because he is working with Glen Mills that they are doing the Terry Laughlin kind of methods. I really like this. The best technique I have ever seen and I think what you are going to see in the next coming year is when you see the Olympic swimmers like – I have been following Megan Quan – she won an Olympic gold medal last time, a brash young girl. She used to pull way up high. Now she is swimming like a man with her head down and I really think that she may be the one that breaks through and does a 1:05 and maybe a 2:20. I mean, it is going to take – the women spent so much time getting in this water resistance and so much time getting down, now you got Maggie Bowen – the one picture I showed where her head was looking down and you got Megan Quan starting to go this way.
I think you are going to see that masters swimmers swim better that way and even the age group girls are starting to go swim like a man – spend more time with the head under water because you only have so much energy in your reace – especially in the 100 race or 200 races – you have only got so much – with all your training you have got so much energy to put it into the strokes and spend more time under water. Yes and guess what – if you swim the way I coach it which is – you pull your heel up and straighten your leg out and you get out here – you pull your leg up and straighten it – pull your leg up and straighten it. There are no knee problems because there is no stress on the knees. That is the way most of these – the other thing is – like Kurt Grote – instead of pulling your knees out here like this out to the side where there is a lot of resistance a lot of the swimmers now – Kurt Grote – they bend their knees in like this, their heels are to their butt and then they come out – longer distance their heels start behind their butt rather than out here like this so when they recover, they are streamline – they quickly get out and grab that water and then on their back in the streamline again. It is less stress on the knees.
Do a lot of toe lifts, a lot of stretching and your swimmers will not have the knee problems. It is only when they do the old whip kick that doesn’t really work that well that they get the knee problems. Any other questions? What I do is try to keep the fast hands the same the whole way and watch the Dave Dennison video – he talks about doing these little mini strokes – if I was coaching him I would make him swim it that way. I would have him doing these little mini strokes and then – because he is a 6 foot 3 and he can pull out here like this. It doesn’t mean that he really should be. I would like to see him pulling a little more butterfly style, a little narrower and a little more mini. What I do – what I start – all the workouts we do body dolphin, body dolphin down the pool and then we do a little mini scull and then we do a little wider scull and then we just snap it a little bit past shoulder width and that’s it – that is as far as we go. None of this wide out stuff here because it doesn’t matter if you are a 10 year old girl or a 35 year old man who has been in the gym every day – you are not strong out here. I believe in core body strength. That is what all masters coaches are talking about – core body strength, keep it tight, keep it close. I had a karate instructor come in at our work. He would do everything close to the body and you are much more powerful. So a lot of the butterfly strokes is now right down here close to the body, breaststroke right here. Use your core muscles, your lats, your chest muscles, your abdominal muscles – tighten them and you are going to be faster.
Question? The stroke is explosive. I tell my swimmers you know, you get these swimmers nice and smooth and I go, no, no, no – I want you to explode and explode. Explode the hands, explode the feet. At the end? No – it doesn’t matter because it is behind – if they are pulling their heels up to the butt all I look at is the angle and I get in the water and I watch the swimmers because I want the angle to be very narrow. I want them to start with their high hips and they come in like this and they explode and all I think of – I tell them – think kick, think kick, think kick so it is fast hands, kick and glide – fast hands, kick and glide for one thousand. They race the one a second, one a thousand drill in practice and then they go to meets and they swim it and they come back with junior Olympic medals.
Well the water things I like to do is I take a kick board, do it vertical and two things that you have to do: in order to go very fast you have to finish the kick, otherwise you don’t go down the pool and so if you find swimmers who are not finishing their kick and fluttering to here, make him take the kick board, hold it vertically in the pool and they will go nowhere. Once they start finishing their kick, down the pool they go. Well you want to be – you want to be very straight and then you just – you pull the heel to the butt because if you do this it is putting out a parachute. streamline, streamline. It is all about – spending the most amount of time – that one second that Fioravanti does in this streamline, from here to here and from here to here is all considered streamline. Once it gets outside the body width and their legs get outside the body width you are breaking streamline, but he is one second out of 1.8 in some sort of streamline, keeping his head in line with his body under water and it is more and more pronounced when you see under water videos of the great swimmers – they are spending more time in that streamline under water.
To be a breaststroker you have got to have a good kick. Bottom line – all good breaststrokers you ask them, what is the secret of the stroke – they will say their kick. I know and so I work very hard at making them do kicks. But you will actually find that they are more powerful if they just pull their heels up and kick straight down rather than – they don’t have the rotational ability to rotate their ankles but if they are pushing water straight back, they will actually get something out of it. You can improve – they can always improve. Yes, it is always a struggle with the less genetically gifted breaststrokers. If you really want to become a good coach go coach special Olympics and they start out real bad and when you can get them to do a good breaststroke kick and finish their heels together and some other coach says, God you did a good job.
You know, there are so many drills. There are a thousand drills from the last hundred years. Breaststroke is the oldest stroke you know, if any of you guys saw Bill Sweetham speak the other day – 1893 a book was published – they had hand paddles – they had a swim bench and obviously they were all breaststrokers because they had all sorts of contraptions to push the water straight back. Now, there are all sorts of drills that you can use. I basically talked about advance drills. Things that real hard core breaststrokers can improve on rather than the initial coaching of breaststroke.