FINA permit wearable technology in swim races

FINA permit wearable technology in swim races

The World’s aquatic governing body has announced that swimmers will now be able to wear technology during swimming races.

“The use of technology and automated data collection devices is permissible for the sole purpose of collecting data. Automated devices shall not be utilized to transmit data, sounds, or signals to the swimmer and may not be used to aid their speed.”

This means it will be legal to “wear” technology to collect the swimmer’s data for research, education, and entertainment However, that data cannot be used in real-time to inform swimmers on how they are going, nor assist them with communication throughout the race.

The impact of this FINA rule change will impact the sport for a generation. A positive outcome is that feedback will be provided on swimmers performance in real time to their coach and potentially the public. But will the top swimmers want to wear the technology, particularly if the data is shared through tv coverage and to others?

To look at how this can work and the outcomes for the sport, let’s take a look.

When a Coach Changes Clubs

When a Coach Changes Clubs

“My son and my husband and I are very happy at our Swimming Club. The Club provides everything we want for our 14 year old son, a positive environment, good coaching, a pathway to develop further and a great team atmosphere. Last night we were informed that my son’s coach is moving to another club and he has asked us to leave our current club and move to the new one with him. We are so confused and would like some advice on how we decide what to do.”

We receive many emails similar to the one above (received last week) from parents asking for advice around coaching, particularly when a coach moves onto another position. Every request for advice is different so we have summarized our thoughts below to assist parents in this situation.

Junior and Age Group Swimmers

In general our advice is if your child is happy in the club they are in, then it is more beneficial to remain at the club with their friends and training partners and continue to train together under a newly appointed coach rather than changing clubs and following their former coach. Invariably the environment created by the Club as a whole and the swimmer pathways within the club are more important to the continued improvement and success of a junior or age group swimmers.

Furthermore, for swimmers in these younger age groups, their coach will often be in an assistant coaching position, and the replacement coach is as good or even better than the departing coach. In general it is always worth giving the incoming coach a good 6 to 12 months for your child to get used to them and continue their swimming journey.

Location and travel time will also play a part in decision-making and it is important for families to understand the ramifications particularly if travel time increases, especially as children move into and through high school.

Coach Advice

For coaches looking to begin a new role in either an established or new Club, it is highly advisable to begin your new role with new swimmers and not encourage your current swimmers to move with you. When I (Gary) moved from one Club as an Assistant Coach to another as Head Coach, I instigated that no swimmers from my previous squads (60 State & National level swimmers) would be welcome to my new Club for a period of 2 years from beginning there. This allowed my current athletes to continue training and competing at my former club and further progress and improve with the least disruption to their swimming, their friendships and the Club. It also provided the incoming coach with the best opportunity to be successful in their new role. This was the right thing to do. It also allowed me as a new Head Coach to develop the culture and athletes from the base up in my new club, gradually over time to ensure the foundations were built for a long term successful club.

Most coaches will understand the reasons for working through a situation similar to that outlined above, however a small minority will “encourage junior and/or age group swimmers to leave their current club and follow them to their new club.” I have seen this happen a small number of times over the past 30 years and it nearly always ends in tears. This is a selfish attitude by the coach who is more interested in promoting themselves than supporting their athletes. It also shows a lack of respect for their previous employer which in turn often carries through to their new employer. If as a parent you are ever put in a position like this, please think twice before making a move as the grass is rarely greener on the other side. It may seem like a good idea at the time but it rarely works out well.

Freestyle Breathing Swimming Tips

Freestyle Breathing Swimming Tips

Freestyle is the first stroke that most children learn and is the fastest of the four competitive strokes.  Listed below are a number of tips on how to improve your breathing in freestyle. If you are after more comprehensive information on freestyle and breathing check out the Freestyle Stroke Model by 2004 & 2012 Head Olympic Coach, Leigh Nugent.

What is the correct head position when swimming freestyle?

The head should be in a neutral position with the neck relaxed and eyes looking straight down. When breathing the head rotates through the long axis of the spine, to the side, maintaining a low position, with one eye in the water and one eye out of the water.

Should I breathe on the first stroke?

After streamlining off the wall on a start or turn, begin your first freestyle stroke just before your head and body breaks the surface.  Swimmers who breathe on this first stroke will often slow themselves down at a time where they do not really need a breathe.  Take your first breathe on your second or third stroke rather than your first stroke.

When do I breathe? 

There are many different ways of explaining to someone when to breathe in freestyle.  Turn your head to breathe on your right hand side as the finger tips of your left hand enters the water following the recovery.  This provides an excellent reference point for for freestyle breathing for swimmers of all ages.  Your head should continue to turn to breathe as the front or opposite hand is extending forward.

How often should I breathe? 

Swimmers breathe every 2, 3 or 4 strokes in general.  Most coaches will teach young swimmers to breath every 4 strokes on their left side and every 4 strokes on their right side, so that they develop both sides of the body.  Work with your coach to develop the best breathing pattern for you.

Should I breathe in the last 5 metres? 

The answer is no, in both training and competition.  Whatever you do in training will happen in a race, so if you want to hold your breathe for the last 5 metres, particularly in a close race then practice it every time you finish a lap in training.

I am having trouble breathing after only a short distance of swimming.  What am I doing wrong? 

Many adult swimmers and young children have this problem.  It is primarily caused by not exhaling before you began to inhale, resulting in limited lung space for the new breath and then a shortness of breath.  Try exhaling all your air out underwater before turning to breathe.  Take one large breath and then exhale all your air out underwater before breathing again.  With young children practice yo-yo’s where a child hangs onto the edge and ducks underwater to exhale totally then comes up for one breathe and straight back under water.  Do this for a minute or two to get really good at it. 

Breathing correctly is very important in freestyle and we hope these tips help you to improve your breathing.