blueseventy Swim Tips

blueseventy Swim Tips


Dolphin Diving

As we lead into the State Sand to Surf and King of the Bays events the beach start and finish provide a perfect opportunity for you to use the skill of “dolphin diving”. Dolphin diving is a very effective way to get through the open water in knee to hip depth water. It is very fast when done effectively but also rather tiring. When you are next in the open water practice dolphin diving when you are parallel to the beach.
Dolphin Diving is fastest in shallower water because you can use your legs to drive you forward rather than up in order to clear the water. You can practice in water up to your chest but there is little advantage to doing that at that depth.  Always look to touch the sand 2-3 times before making the decision to start dolphin diving.  Once your hands touch the bottom, pull your knees under you and plant your feet under you like a frog.  Then extend your arms as you push forward and up from the bottom. The deeper the water is, the harder you have to push.
When you break the surface, keep your hands flly extended and you head tucked. Snatch a breath and dive down again. Repeat.
In the open water, don’t start dolphin diving until you know what is under you.  Be careful about submerged rocks, sharp shells etc. If it is a very muddy then you may be better off swimming.

Here are a couple of videos that demonstrate this to you
Video 1
Video 2

Note: Video 1 shows the arms coming out of the water in a butterfly type technique. The alternative option is – from the ‘frog’ position underwater, bring your hands back under your body and push off with your hands infront (dive position) rather than leading with you head and arms at your side as demonstrated in video 1.

Improve your kicking

In this article we will discuss a few tips and tricks on how to improve your kick or how to make kicking more fun.

1. Wall kicking. Start kicking holding the wall. Kick 15 sec easy, 15 sec sprint and then push off right away and swim 6-beat kick free to the other side where you will grab the wall and continue kicking. So if you decide to do 20×25 of this, you will never stop kicking, until you get done with all the 25s. Feel free to change the interval sprint/easy kicks as you wish.

2. Fartlek kicking.
This exercise requires a kickboard. Select a good distance, for example 500 meters and then have your coach blow the whistle every so often to let you know that you should start sprinting, when he/she blows again, you may slow down, but continue with kicking. Or you can select a time interval like 30 minutes and see how far you can get during this time.

3. Shoe kicks.
Get yourself a pair of old tennis shoes. Do 6×50 with a kickboard and tennis shoes on. Pick a slower interval, because this is not easy, but this kicking exercise strengthens your legs and breaks up the kicking monotony very well.

4. Stretch cord kicks. Get a short stretch cord, attach it to the block and have a set of explosive kicks off the wall. E.g. 5x (30 sec sprint+30 sec rest).

5. Vertical kicking. There are many variations of this exercise.
a.) Sprint – Do short intervals of fly kicks as fast as you can and count how many you have done. Try to increase the number of kicks each time.
b.) Longer distance – You can kick with your arm in the streamline, on your head, at your side or by you body. Make sure to keep nice and straight posture + your head out of the water.
c.) Fun weights – To make this more challenging, you can hold a bucket with water above your head. To make it even more fun, you can split your swimmers into groups of 2 or 3 and give them waterproof medicine balls to throw to each other.
d.) Push offs – Lastly, if you feel creative, you may have the swimmers push off the bottom as high as possible in streamline while kicking fly and not let the body fall deep back underwater.

Good luck with your kicking!

How to increase your arm turnover?

Arm turnover or cadence is really important during choppy conditions or surf type conditions. By increasing the turnover your body is going to be moving forward constantly and is less effected by the water conditions that could alter your direction and body position. To see this in action make sure you watch the State Paihia Classic (now named the State Bay of Islands Classic) on Youtube and watch Melissa Gorman and Stephan Talbot at the front of the field.

The best way to increase turnover is by doing short interval type training over 20sec or 25m.

  1. Make sure you warm up and have a stretch before starting this session – this will get the blood flowing into the muscles and is very important before any high intensity workout.
  2. Do an all out sprint for about 20sec or 25m. Sprinting will increase your arm stroke turnover rate.You should also find that you are out of breathe at the end of each interval.
  3. Take approx 20sec rest at the end of each length.
  4. Repeat this around eight times (more experienced swimmers may do a lot more). You will find that there is an increased level of fatigue as you progress through the set – this is normal.
  5. Recover with an easy freestyle swim to let your heart rate slowly come back down to normal. Strenuous exercise can cause muscle damage and accumulation of waste products such as lactic acid. A proper cool-down is essential at the end of a hard workout to promote recovery and get your body back to its pre-exercise state.
  6. Stretch all your muscles especially your shoulder muscles. Tight shoulder muscles can limit your range of motion and impede your arm turnover rate. One shoulder stretch is the front deltoid stretch using a wall or another stable vertical surface. Stand perpendicular to the wall and place your palm on the wall lower than shoulder height and your elbow slightly bent. Turn your body away from the placed arm and hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds and then switch arms and repeat.

Good luck with this set, this might help you to understand why your coach gives your some sprinting sets during your training for the open water.

Pacing Simulations

At the State Capital Classic ‘I’m Going Long’ ocean swim it  has a 1900m straight swim before your first turn. To help with your preparation before this swim as well as the others you should practice your open water pacing. You can always expect the first 400-800m of a ocean swim or triathlon to be quite intense. So practice swimming at a higher tempo for upto 8min and then reduce your speed to a more manageable level for half the duration ie.4min. You can  repeat this 2-3 times depending on your ability.

Make sure you lift your head regularly to ensure that you are swimming in the straightest line.  In Wellington you should be siting the lighthouse. Click here to view the Wellington Course Map.

Understanding your starting environment

It is always important to familiarise yourself with the start environment and at the State Paihia Classic ‘I’m Going Long’ event the start is quite different to what you might encounter at many other events. The start line is on a steep pebble surface that enters the water and then drops off quite quickly. You need to consider a few important factors before you start your swim.

  1. Make sure you are well warmed up and have stretched before practicing your starts. Due to the steepness of this bank it can be easy to hyper-extend your knee if you are running down the starting area into the water.
  2. Firstly walk down the start area into the water and gauge the number of steps that you will take on entering the water before launching yourself into the swim.
  3. Over the next two practices increase the speed at which you start and do your best to get your footing right. If you take one too many steps you will find that your momentum is lost going downward rather than launching yourself forward.
  4. Position yourself in sensible place on the start line. If you over estimate your ability in a start wave you can easily find yourself in the “washing machine” of open water swimming.
  5. If you are going to put yourself in a competitive position on the start line then make sure you dive in a straight direction and ensure you don’t launch yourself ontop of someone in-front of you if you are one or two rows back from the start position.
  6. If you are going to line up at the front then make sure your goggles are well tightened, if you are going to dive in you don’t want to loose your goggles or have them fill with water. If this does happen swim to the side of the group before adjusting your goggles – so you can do this safely without people suddenly hitting you in stationary position.

Good luck for your swim!

Ankle Flexibility

Do you want to get the best out of your swimming? During the off season it is a perfect time to try and make a difference in your swimming. Ankle flexibility will allow you to grab as much water as you can with your kick.  You can do this at home while watching  TV or while someone is cooking dinner for you. Go slowly and, if you feel pain stop or don’t press down as far! 

  1. Start with your feet as flat on the floor as possible in a hands and knees position.
  2. Slowly lower down to your feet, with your ankles directly under you.  Sit on to your feet.
  3. Put the feet a bit wider than you are, and try to sit flat on the floor with your feet to the sides.
  4. Hold each position for a little while to allow the stretch to really take effect.

Above all, take this slowly and be consistent.  The more often you practice this, the better your ankle flexibility will become.

Body Roll – the coil in the core

In order to propel themselves forward, most people would mainly use their arms and shoulders, however, this is not the most efficient method and can lead to shoulder pain. In contrast, a significant amount of your propulsion should be generated from rotating your body. Elite swimmers rotate up to sixty degrees in the water with every stroke!

A good drill to introduce you to this concept in the water is to float face down in a streamlined position with one arm at your side and one stretched above your head. From there, rotate your body and shoulders towards the arm that’s at your side using your abs  and keeping yourself totally straight.

A good land based exercise is to lie face with one hand on a roller (a rolled yoga mat works well if you don’t have a roller). Engage your right armpit and abs and pull the roller towards you as you rotate your hips.

For more information or help with your swimming biomechanics feel free to contact

Wave Technique –

Body surfing is always taught by experienced open water swimming coaches as part of their fundamental program.  Inevitably, open water swimmers and triathletes will face waves during some part of their career and an innate knowledge of how to position and angle your body, both heading into and riding down waves, will be invaluable.

For competitive open water swimmers, body surfing skills can be the difference between two equally skilled athletes. The ability to out-body surf another athlete into a beach finish is always exciting to see. But even for the more casual athlete, body surfing skills lead to more confidence going in and out of the surf zone and help avoid getting hurt, surprised or wiped out. Just as pool swimmers try to develop a “feel” for the water, open water swimmers and triathletes should also develop a tactile feel for the movement of water.

After an experienced open water swimmer selects a wave as purposefully time their take-off position so they can body surf into the finish, they concentrate on maintaining a streamlined position, sometimes with their head up and sometimes with their head down depending on where they are in the wave.

As the power of the wave surges forward and they feel an increased speed, the swimmer strokes fast and kicks hard to catch the wave. Their hips are elevated as they kick. They lift their head to look forward with one outstretched arm and utilize their forward hand as their bow. They take a few good few breaths of air while they can in this position as they come sliding down the face of the wave, significantly moving faster than they ever could swimming.

As the wave breaks, they kick even harder in order to stay within the wave with their arm and hard still extended. Within the white-water, they still kick but if they feel themselves falling out of the wave because they are moving more slowly than the wave itself, they start stroking with their back hand. Trying to stay within the white-water separates the best body surfing swimmers from those without the experience or aerobic ability to stay with a wave. As the wave starts to fizzle and the water starts to get shallower, they start to take a few strokes and get ready to dolphin into the finish.