Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Speed is not the ____, it's the _____!

Some interesting quotes from the NYTimes regarding the principles of swimming fast that are very much in line with Igor’s main mantra: “Speed is not the goal, it’s the result” :D

“A lot of people think you’re just thrashing in the 50,” Weber-Gale said. “But there’s a lot more to it than that. You’re trying to go as fast as you possibly can without trying.”

Once the starting beep sounds, the trick is to hit the water sprinting but not all-out. “You’ve got to be able to dive in,” Jones said, “pop up and go and be able to get that tempo exactly right.”

“The more effort I put into it, the more I slipped in my stroke.” (Biondi)

The Zen of the 50 goes beyond slowing down to swim faster. The rule of thumb on breathing, said Ben Wildman-Tobriner, the reigning world champion, is that, “If you take a breath when you need it, it’s too late.”

The 50 is not a thinking person’s race. It is for swimmers whose minds turn off so all they hear is their inner metronome. “People who tend to be cerebral, who are thinking: ‘Don’t forget to breathe; remember to kick; am I ahead?’ are not going to excel in the 50,” Biondi said. “The more people hold onto those thoughts the slower they’ll end up going.”

The shorter the race, the longer it takes to master. “The only way you’re going to be able to get super fast,” Weber-Gale said, “is to be as efficient as you possibly can and perfecting your stroke takes a long time.”

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Interactive Olympics Tracker

I was having a hard time finding a place that listed out the full Olympic event schedule in a detailed but user-friendly format and that would allow for customization based on the sports I was most interested in. I think the one that the NYTimes has created is pretty nifty and the best interactive tool I’ve encountered so far. If anyone knows of other useful and fun sources, let me know!

Fly Technique

So, one of the last swimming tidbits Igor shared with us (which was pretty novel to me) was: in the fly, don’t let your arms follow your head down or shoot them deeper/downwards as you would in breast, but keep your arms slightly above the head. You’re still leading with the head in terms of making the undulating motion, and as Igor used to say “pulling with your head”. And, you’re still making the second kick stronger than the first to “kick your arms forward”. But, by not letting your arms follow your head down, your second kick becomes a lot better and isn’t unnecessarily huge.

Since that was not that eloquent of an explanation, here’s an underwater video of Phelps doing it, which demonstrates it a lot better!