rollin’ rollin’


12/03/2013 by Carl Reynolds

Pear and Almond Cake - yum

Pear and Almond Cake – yum

Mrs Ape and I would have done our usual lido/indoor combo, but the traffic in sarf Londun this morning was snarly, thick and uninviting. So we dropped the hop-a-long boy off at school and turned left into Crystal Palace. We had a cake for the lido, but alas it didn’t get any further than my cake ‘ole! I’ll bring the remnants tomorrow.

After my first 5K in a while yesterday, I thought I’d take it easy. I had the fast lane to myself for the first hour and was then joined by someone slightly slower than me – about a metre or so every hundred. I was musing about the butterfly at the time and thinking about how the body movement brings the arms over – there being no need to push the arms over so to speak. So I thought, “why not apply this to crawl?”. Swinging a little more from the hips and resisting pulling my arms over I just let them rise and fall into the water. They went in a little curved, but the pull was easier and the breath stroke was easier. And I instantly realised I was mostly just using my back muscles and not the shoulders. And (lots of ands) I started gaining 3 metres per 100 on my co-lane swimmer. Reader, I was ecstatic. And then I thought, why haven’t the people I’ve paid good money to give me coaching pointed this out to me?

Over the next few days I’m going to see if I can’t refine it a little more, but it seems I’ve hit my sweet spot. Which may not be yours. The lesson being, if you’re after some coaching, you need a coach who can adapt, not only to different learning styles, but who is also undogmatic about approach to the stroke. As my new approach seems, so far, to be less of a strain, I’m going to save the money for massage, physio and sea swimming.


13 thoughts on “rollin’ rollin’

  1. Hi Mr AA,

    This sounds interesting – and we certainly subscribe to the “undogmatic” view of the swimming world. I’d be really interested to see a video of your changes. Presumably this is a consequence of your Shaw Swim course? I’ve been pondering going on a ‘fly one after a freediving friend of mine did one.

    Happy Swimming,


    • Dan – the thought did come just a day or so after a Swim Shaw butterfly course (they don’t do many). I think what’s piqued me, is that my previous coaches were unable to describe to me what I needed to do differently. However, it’s also the case (as Mrs Ape says) that my stroke was good anyway, so I shouldn’t get too arsey about them. But I’m searching for that go forever, stress and injury free style; and I may have serendipitously found it. Further exploration will be good feedback.

  2. David Davies says:

    Genius……but enough of Mrs Ape’s cake. Can we be expecting a best selling book and a DVD? There are parallels with your new technique and with kayaking, where the back muscles are used in preference to the arms/shoulders to establish an efficient stroke which is less stressful on the upper body.

    • David – the thinking’s also in swim coaching. I got the concept, it’s just no one ever physically demonstrated it, or were able to describe it in understandable words.

  3. Peter Ra says:

    “Swinging a little more from the hips and resisting pulling my arms over I just let them rise and fall into the water.” Does this mean less emphasis on stretching and gliding?

    • Still extending, but not forcing it. Letting the momentum of the action elongate your arms. And so a glide as well.

      Carl Reynolds 0794 124 9718 0208 355 2775

  4. That’s really interesting Carl. I’ve got a major shoulder problem that’s been ongoing for months now. Managed to fix the one on the other side (R) with osteopath, dynaband and rest. That was my tennis and throwing shoulder so no surprises it was a bit dodgy. It’s been fine ever since but the left one is a nightmare and just not getting any better whatever I do. Haven’t swum a distance for ages because of it. So I’ll see if I can replicate roughly what you’re doing there if I can. Will speak to Kari about it too.

    • Lynne – I’ve spent two more days thinking about how to describe it; and trying to get the feel of it. My initial try at explaining would be something like this – out of the water, stand with your feet spaced shoulders apart. Soften your knees. Keeping your head soft and looking forward, begin to rotate your hips side to side. If you keep your arms soft and relaxed they will also move as a result of the hip movement. Now take this to the water. As it is an exploration things may, initially, seem exaggerated. As you roll in the crawl feel the motion take your arms forward. Forget for now the extension and glide, as you’re looking for the motion, not the correct action – for now. Once you have the feel of this, then extend and glide, but again using the momentum of the roll, not a push from the shoulders. Let me know if it makes a difference.

  5. minkejill says:

    Weird coincidence but I have been trying to explain the very same thing to some of my novice swimmers this week!

  6. Kat says:

    having read this I relished my technique class and used my whole body for each stroke and the swim almost felt effortless in comparison to swimming with my arms and shoulders alone THANK YOU AQUATIC APE YOU SUPERSTAR!!!

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