Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The UBER swim post. Oh this is a fun one!

It is the off season; what do you do in the off season? A smarter person than I answered that question perfectly:

"Work on the things that need improving the most that is hard (as in finding the time to do or recover from) to improve during the race season."

Well, I need a LOT of improvement in all areas of triathlon, but really what that means is working on technique or strength or things that you just don't have time for when you are racing every other weekend. Mostly my improvement is needed in the pool. You can't just swing your arms faster in the pool like pedaling faster or turning your legs over faster to go faster; its mostly technique based in the water. There is some golden swim-technique-formula out there and I am bound to find it!

Which means playing with new pool toys!!! Why not? I don't have to break my 100 yard PR for another 5 months. I have time to muck around and see if any of these gimmicks actually work.

So I ordered two new swim toys.

#1 The Finis Hydro Hip

After reading the reviews on the Hydro Hip and watching the video, I was very skeptical. All of them said that it will ride up your hips and detach. Whelp, they were right. After my first 25, it did just that. But I wasn't giving up! I readjusted it, stuck it really low on my hips and tightened it up right and went again. The belt stayed put! So now it was time to figure this thing out.

I had to really try hard to rotate with this thing. Eventually I got the hang of it and it forced me to work my core to rotate my body. After 200 yards I took them off, then chaos ensued. I pushed off the wall sans Hydro Hip, rotated and WHOOPS! I over-rotated to a full 270 degrees and found myself staring up at the ceiling. Holy WOW this thing actually works!

I did 200 yards swimming freestyle and my rotation was incredible! I was finally able to feel what it meant to rotate my core to rotate my body. All along I was using my shoulders and upper body to rotate and it was so hard.

Lesson learned?
Rotate from your hips/core and the rest of your body will follow.
It is easier this way to swim.
I felt like I was "getting after the water" for once.

#2 The Finis Forearm Fulcrum

This was a strange toy to get used to. They immediately came off my wrists when I pushed off the first time. I soon learned you have to wrap your thumb around it to hold it on. The point of the Forearm Fulcrum is to keep your hand and forearm from bending. You have more surface area when this is the case; more surface area = more pull = more speed. You have to work to keep your elbows high. Dropped elbows = bad juju!!!

Took me a few alternating 100 yard intervals to get the hang of it, but like the Hydro Hip, you don't feel the full effects until you take them off. Once off, my pull felt MUCH stronger and I was engaging my lat muscles, which are those giant broad muscles on your back which are much stronger at pulling than your arms.

I would say the Forearm Fulcrum is an alright toy.You can accomplish a similar effect and water feel by swimming with fists.

Lesson learned?
Don't bend your wrists and keep your elbows high.
Engage those lats to pull!

Besides playing with new toys, I have 3 off season goals for the pool.

Dolphin kicking (check!)
Backstroke (check!)
Flipturns (uhg)

Learning dolphin kicking took all of 5 mins and the backstroke took 45 mins. My new swimming technique confidence was sky high! I figured flip turns would take 15.....boy was I wrong! Flip turns.......yeah......have NOT  been agreeing with me. So I turned to my good friend, for help :)......I swear you could earn a degree off of youtube....

I found this great 5 step flipturn instructional series.

Step #0: Admit that a flipturn is harder than it looks

Step #1:

Step #2:

Step #3:

Step #4:

Step #5:

I got through step #2 alright, but as soon I removed the pull buoys, I was pushing off and hitting the bottom of the pool. Am I not tucking enough? Dropping my arms?

Does anyone have any other easy to learn it yourself flipturn methods? I know I don't have to learn flipturns, but its a goal that I have wanted to accomplish for a long time.


  1. Bending at your waist and trying to look at your feet is the best way I describe flip turning. It takes practice. Take a second to try to push straight off the wall with your head tucked between your extended arms. You wont hit the bottom of the pool this way. Use a dolphin kick after flipping as well. I think thats about it!! Ha ha!
    My coach has had me working on fist drills. Ugh. I have a love hate relationship with them!!

  2. I forgot to add you have to rotate from your CORE as soon as you push off after your flip..hope this helps!

  3. That hydro hip thingy looks interesting ....hmmmmmm ...yep gonna order one!

    flip turns - I use them about 95% of the time now. The key to do a flip turn is to whip your head down. When you drop your head quickly, your body will follow - and dont be afraid to get close to the wall. I treat it like the gold swing - less thinking is better, only thought I have is drop the head. Try it.

  4. WHat a great set of videos! I said that I was going to learn flip turns this winter and I'm totally going to use those videos. Thanks for posting!

  5. I've got the hydro hip as well. I've never been consistent enough with it. Also I was kind of hoping one of my coaches would have helped me out with it but they were all non-believers.
    As you say, it's similar to the fist drill. When you take it off, you really notice the difference. Which is why I'm ordering a medicine ball to do core twist exercises this off season. The core is the key!

  6. Cool post. Thanks for sharing.

    My issue with flip turns is that no matter how focused I am on breathing out while I try them, i always get a noseful of water! ugh!

  7. Those are interesting pool gadgets! I've seen the hip one, but the other one is new to me! Thanks for the reviews.

  8. I really like those videos and am actually excited to go to the pool to try it out! Thanks for posting!

  9. also on the Hydro Hip
    thank Jon!

  10. Jeff nailed it. Tuck your head and just do a flip in the water. I taught my wife by standing next to her and having her just practice approaching the wall and taking her through the motion.

    DO NOT SLOW DOWN on the approach. The more speed you have going into the flip turn the better.

    You also cannot be afraid of the flip turn. Just do it.

    Nice toys. Both were recommended by a swim coach we know.

  11. I just remember a coach telling us to, with your last stroke, reach across, yes across your body and try to touch your opposite foot as you flip.

  12. You are going to be a shark in the water next season! I am not going to start next to you in LP, that's for sure. Flip turns stop being scary after you nail a few. practice doing them away from the wall and kicking your feet out as if they're going to hit the wall. Once you feel you have the motion down it's a lot easier to actually use the wall. Good luck! And, take videos of all your efforts to nail a flip turn and then post them on the blog? The fails will be great to go back and laugh at when you're flip turning like a champ!

  13. I never been one to use "toys" in the pool, but with what I have planned next year (and a disappointing year in the water this year) I think I am going to invest in some.

  14. Swimming is one area that I need to work on this off season. But of course, I have not swam in almost 3 weeks. Whoops!

    Good luck with the flip turns. They are very fun once you learn them.

  15. flip/turn? this is why I don't swim. ;)

  16. The flip turn is the best part about lap swimming! Sorry kid, no advice though.

    Love the new toys...maybe I should stick those on my xmas list!

  17. these toys sound liek they are worth trying. I really want to try the hydro hip.

  18. With all these new toys, how the heck to you get everything back and forth to the pool? Did you have to rent a uhaul for the back of your car??? haha.

    I bike a mile to and from the pool, so everything I bring has to fit in a backpack for me to bring. I may have to check out the hip thing though. P90X (specifically the Yoga part) seems to be greatly helping my hip rotations and flexibility. (Yes, I mentioned P90X again - sorry)

  19. YOU BOUGHT THAT THING! I can't believe it! Glad to hear that it worked. I want to work on flip turns too... not sure why. ha I'm a complete disaster when I try them. Gonna use the noodle on Tuesday.


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