Sunday, December 21, 2014

Thinking About Kicking

Ken and I wish you and your family, friends, staff and team the best of holiday seasons and send true wishes for a grand year in 2015. Writing these weekly messages gives us an outlet for what we are thinking about. It is something we are grateful to be able to do and we appreciate that so many readers comment via email or in person when we are at meets or clinics. Sharing coaching ideas is one of the cornerstones of why American Swimming is so profoundly excellent. Everyone shares. There are very few “secrets” since we all get to watch the same swimmers and can deduce what we are able to figure out watching them. Hard to keep anything “under wraps” when the “product” is in plain view.
Coming out of the USA Swimming Junior Nationals last week form Seattle two things stood out as significant.
First, the USA staff did such a superb job on filming every single swim, including relays. Our swimmers gleaned valuable insights watching themselves race both in slow motion and real time. We think an on deck regular video filming stream, running on a five or ten second delay at each lane, would provide immediate and extremely valuable feedback for the swimmers. They could watch themselves finish a repeat during the rest period, then proceed onto the next swim and then watch it for comparison sake. Sooner than later this will be available to all of us at a reasonable cost. The technology is there now, just expensive and a little cumbersome.
Secondly, if there was ever any doubt about the value of kicking this meet removed it. The young man who won the 100 free in 42+ swam less than 50 yards…the rest of it was under water dolphin kicking. The young lady who won the 200 free in 1:44+ had a monster 6 beat kick for all 8 laps. The last time we saw this in person was when Simon Burnett went a 1:31+ for his 200. He started out kicking like a man possessed and was able to do it for 1 minute and 31 seconds. The swimmer last week was able to sustain a ferocious and withering kick for 1minute and 44 seconds.
Both the men’s 100 free and the women’s 200 free demonstrated that kicking – above and under – is critical to ultimate potential development. Until a swimmer (and a coach and her/his program) is willing to commit to mastering that part of the technical spectrum, less than optimal performance will occur…end of discussion.
Our training camp (North Bay Aquatics) begins on the 26th of this month and both of those components will be addressed daily. If you are an NBA swimmer reading this, you have been given notice – be ready…kicking is taking on a whole new dimension!

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