Over the pasl 10 years. the factors that contribute ta swimming successlully at top national and international competitions have been analyzed by leading sports scientists such as Dr Bruce Masan of Ihe Australien Instilule of Sport. Competilion analysis breaks down racing into its various components.
Males tend to swim faster than females. Women have higher percentage of body fat than men, whereas men have more muscle weight. This results in women floating better and showing a greater swimming economy, 30 % lower energy cost than men have been reported (McArdle, Katch and Katch 1996).
Swimming power and especially upper body strength have been demonstrated to be crucial to success in sprint swimming. 86% of one's performance in a 25-m front crawl sprint result from the swimmers' strength and the ability to develop power. For the competitive distance swimmer the strength component is less. At 100, 200, and 400m, the contribution of muscular strength drops to 74, 72 and 58%, respectively. During slow, low-intensity swimming most of the muscle force is generated by slow twitch fibers. As the muscle tension requirements increase, the fast twitch fibers are incorporated. In sprint events (50-200m) demanding maximal strength, the second group of fast twitch fibers sets in. The tendency is that swimmers have higher percentage of slow twitch muscle fibers in their shoulders and particularly musculus deltoideus. However, muscle fiber composition appears not to be a deciding factor in successful competition. Swimming is performed almost totally with concentric contractions (Costill, Maglischo and Richardson 1992).
The coach is an important person with his or her ability to observe and make subjective assessments of performance. But there is also a need to have objective measurements, being more valuable in giving some dimension to the result, e.g. time, distance, score (McLatchie 1993). The physiological tests are designed to follow the swimmer's physical capabilities, improvements achieved, and to assist in planning the training program (Costill, Maglischo and Richardson 1992). Total fitness consists of strength, speed, flexibility and endurance, and all of these aspects should be evaluated.
The following points should be considered before assessing fitness:
The initial position in freestyle is on the breast, with both arms stretched to the front and the legs extended to the back.
The arm movement in freestyle is alternating, i.e., while one arm is pulling/pushing, the other arm is recovering. The arm strokes also provide most of the forward movement in freestyle. The move can be separated into three parts, the pull, the push, and the recovery.
From the initial position, the arm sinks slightly lower and the palm of the hand turns 45 degree with the thumb side of the palm towards the bottom. This is called catching the water and is in preparation for the pull. It also gives the muscles a brief rest during swimming. The pull movement follows a semicircle with the elbow higher than the hand and the hand pointing towards the body center and downward. The semicircle ends in front of the chest at the beginning of the ribcage." frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>
1. Three of the most important components of swimming are: technique,technique, technique.
2. Strive for optimum, not maximum, performance.
3. Learn to balance, align, and stabilize your body first. Everything else will become easier.
4. Seek the path of least resistance.
5. Find the path of most resistance.
The science of swimming is extremely complicated, involving the interaction of propulsive forces from the swimmer’s arms and legs and the drag caused by water. However, by applying new research courtesy of fluid dynamics and supercomputers, every swimmer can swim faster.
Few sports are as precise as swimming. Cyclists can blame the wind, runners the terrain and team sports players the referee! Swimming, on the other hand, has exact distances and water is, well, constant. However, although ‘pure’ swimmers race in the pool and triathletes in open water (or OW as it’s referred to), the advent of long-distance swimming entering the Olympics in Beijing and fast-moving swimsuit and wetsuit technology means that many ‘constants’ in the world of swimming aren’t so constant after all.
The ‘sports ground’ for swimming (H2O!) is often quoted as being 1000 times denser than air. Trying to move efficiently through this very dense medium is not nearly as easy as other sports that take place through air. For example, top cyclists hit over 60kmh in short events on the track or in an end-of-stage sprint. Elite runners average over 30kmh for a quarter mile and over 40kmh at the end of sprints. By contrast, even the world’s best swimmers top just 8kmh (5mph) over the 100m sprint. Yet that is still superhuman. Most fitness swimmers would fail to approach even half that speed. All that splashing around by even the most enthusiastic fitness swimmer is soon put to shame by the 12 year old who glides through the water with ease. In short, swimming is about brain not brawn, and it’s technique not triceps or trapezius size that matters.
The efficiency of your swimming stroke is the key to success as a competing or training swimmer. An efficient stroke will significantly reduce wasted energy output through less drag in the water and a cleaner execution of hand and arm entry and recovery. Thus that little extra energy may provide you with an overall faster time. When your energy resources are depleted and you're hanging on to the end of your race, you will be the winner if you can hold your technique to that last tenth of a second. Every swimmer knows how easy it is to let one's technique drop off as you become more fatigued throughout a race - that burning sensation in the shoulders as you try to hold together your last few strokes to the wall is the hardest part of the race.
With regard to training for competitions, the season can last for up to 10 months or more, depending on whether you are at county, national or international level. In general, the season's training will reflect the level of the club or squad you are training with. The season will be geared around the county or regional championships, the Grand Prix circuit, the nation short- and long-course championships, the European, World or Olympic Games or the World Cup Circuit. Whatever your level, this article aims to cover the different types of training sets/sessions you should experience. Your individual ability and/or standard will determine the actual proportional breakdown of these sessions or cycles throughout the swimming season.
Although super-high training volumes are the rule rather than the exception for swimmers, there' s solid evidence that these heavy loads may be counter-productive.
Swimmers train far, far too much. Incredible as it seems, many competitive swimmers scull through 10,000 metres of water per day, spending as much as three hours in the pool. Runners with comparable training programmes would need to cover almost a marathon each day, a schedule that would produce loud cries of derision - or the suspicion that certain record-breaking Chinese females were nearby. Yet, strangely, swimmers treat such training as the done thing.
Although super-high training volumes are the rule rather than the exception for swimmers, there' s solid evidence that these heavy loads may be counter-productive. A few years ago, the celebrated exercise physiologist David Costill determined at his laboratory at Ball State University that competitive swimmers who cut their training loads from 10000m to 5-6000m per day for a month or two do not lose fitness; in fact, they often IMPROVE their performances. Other investigations in Costill's laboratory have shown convincingly that just 10 days of 110000m per day training actually DECREASES muscle power in swimmers' arms, leading to slower race times.
But swimmers are a tradition-bound lot, so training philosophies aren't likely to change soon. Fortunately, though, there is a way for swimmers to rescue themselves from their high-volume training torture and to perform at peak levels during their most important competitions. What they need to do is taper - reduce their training - for an extended period of time before major races. A period of diminished training allows arm and legs muscles to recover - and then increase - their basic power, helping swimmers to move through the water like torpedoes rather than tortoises.