Old Tired Frontcrawl

JOE LIPWORTH 04-05-09This is one of the most common areas that I see: high head postion and arched back.  If you have a look at the notes I took with this swimmer the ‘Old Tired Stroke’ had these issues:

1. Back is soft and bent causing resistance due to poor body position.  This is due to looking forwards and weak core strength.

2. Legs tend to move towards an uneven ‘two beat’ kick, or a sporatic kick.  This is due to the fact that the legs are tired.

3. Head position is very high due to the fact that we are human and want to look forwards.  Fish eyes are on the sides of their head and so they can see forwards and backwards, we unfortunately have not evolved to be able to do this so we look forwards so we don’t crash…and by doing so we change our body position.

4. Arms are over-extended on the entry, causing a thing that is often called ‘lying on your arms’, which can become a big problem if done over a long period of time.  The legs and arms are both causing this problem and it is a chicken or egg thing as to what causes what.  Essentially though they are both forced to do the same thing to maintain this slow loping style.

Correcting this fault:

The way that this stroke has evolved is due to the fact that most swimmers swim far too much frontcrawl (freestyle) in an aerobic capacity and begin to get lazy.  I call it the problem  with walking a thousand miles.  A better strategy would be to swim equal amounts of aerobic swimming on all strokes.  Yes including fly!

If you are aware of the teachings of Bill Boomer then you will know the important of correct balance when swimming.  If your head is up high enough for you to look forwards you will not have correct balance (or you will find it very difficult to find correct balance looking forwards because I have seen open water swimmers able to look forwards and still have good balance) but in general this is the first thing to correct with this problem; balance.

There are numerous issues that need correction with this lazy style.  It is important to correct one-at-a-time.  With new changes to think about it is important to make only one change at a time.  You will have heard that women can do more than one thing at a time.  Yes it is true but so can men but both men and women can not divide their concentration into two or three or more things at the same time…if they are new.  New-ness requires concentration and for the mind to be in the present tense.  This then permits the idea of vigilance to become important to allow this change to take place.

To correct balance I believe that you must allow the swimmer to feel what is correct and what is incorrect.  I like the drill I call ‘Granny’ frontcrawl.  I use the granny style on all strokes to improve balance and to teach balance.  I call it granny to make it memorable because I describe how granny’s often swim with their head up.  This usually puts a smile on swimmers faces and depending on how animated I was in describing the drill it usually is never forgotten…job done.  Then ‘granny frontcrawl’ is done without a big explaination each time.  If you swim with your head up like a water polo player you will quickly feel how hard it is.

Once the swimmer has swum with their head up and understands how hard it is then you can get them to put their head further and further down.  You may have noticed at the World Championships and Olympic recently that swimmers are swimming with much lower head position over all distances in the pool.  50m sprinters all the way up to 1500m champion.

Next Steps.

Breathing. Once head position is established it is important to get the breathing right while keeping the head low.  So to first establish low head position using a center mounted snorkle is very helpful.  But once you move on to breathing you will need to take that off.

Next you will need to work on how the swimmers pulls the water.  And finally how the whole stroke works together.

About Coach Gary

I competed in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul representing Canada and coached in the 2000 and 2004 Olympics for Great Britain. I have a degree in History and a minor degree in Psychology from University of Calgary. I have travelled extensively and have been very lucky to see so much of the world while representing Canada and Great Britain at swimming competitions. I am very proud of the fact that I coached a swimmer to become number one in the world in the fastest swimming race in 2002. I pride myself in my ability to find new and interesting ways to teach swimming. I am an accomplished artist specialising in sculpture, I have another blog called 'swimmingart' where I publish some of my swimming drawings. I have three young children; all boys. I have recently taken up painting and yoga....but not at the same time. You can see my new paintings at: https://www.artgallery.co.uk/artist/gary_Vandermeulen
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