An old "freak" wants to swim FS without any rests!

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Post by Don Wright on Fri Dec 07, 2018 10:17 am

The tail-end of my last post was either the result of my evidently faulty powers of observation, or due to my poor sight (about 2" focal length without correcting specs)!

There are indeed 8 rectangular blocks of alternating light/dark blue on the pool floor in that pool I've been using - for at least 5 years! During yesterday's session, I peered more closely at the end wall - Oh eek! - How come I just did not notice it before? - it is covered with glazed mini-tiles each about 1" square! Furthermore - getting my eyes closer to the bottom - I could see it was the same sized mini-tiles that covered each of the alternately coloured light/dark blue 2mx1.25m rectangular areas.  With the end of a big toe I sampled how slippery the mini-tiles were. Yus! very slippery indeed, but not so when the sole of the foot is planted on the floor.  So no wonder my feet shot from under me when I tried standing while wearing the fins with non-grip undersides! Having discovered this, I think it means farewell to any contemplated fin usage endeavour!

On another "front" - I've been "mugging-up" what Sheila Taormina has written in her book (Swim Speed Strokes) about the 6-beat flutter kicking pattern. Currently (when concentrating, and not just kicking "randomly"  Rolling Eyes ), I fit in 3 kicks for each arm stroke, which means that I do a rather "big fancy arm recovery" to fit the 3 kicks in, during that action on the non-breathing side - it seems much easier to fit the kicks in on the breathing side!  Yet somehow, am having trouble remembering which leg to kick down with, at the various stages of the stroking arm's UW action.

Think I've "taken on board" the idea that one needs to "kick down with the leg on the same side as the stroking arm" when at the catch and towards the end of the stroking arm's up-sweep.  The other leg is supposed to kick down with the opposite leg to the stroking arm, immediately after water entry, while extending that arm - and also at the transition from stroking arm's pull/push phases!  Mmm! that's great in theory - but muggins has great trouble putting it into practice - think I need to do it ultra-slow to imprint the ideas in my noddle! It is so much easier just doing it "randomly"  Twisted Evil , but then one may miss out on what Sheila T calls her "Triple P = the Power Packed Punch" of kicking effectively at the most important stages of the UW arm action - i.e. the start of the "pull", and augmenting the powerful arm up-sweep (memo to self - must remember that "passing the elbow" trick, to give the up-sweep more oomph). I have a chuckle when remembering SS Paul Newsome's old "Swim Types" - as a former over-glider (and now drifting back to that! Oh the relaxing joy of gliding a bit, my former more continuous arm action was energy-sapping  Rolling Eyes ) - supposedly doing too much analytical thinking - I guess that's me correctly categorized! Smile

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Post by Sprinter on Sat Dec 08, 2018 3:33 pm

Hi Don,

I believe that all your observation will lead you to hold your breath, involuntarily, which will create anxiety and disrupt your swimming.

Why don't you add to every session a few rounds of free-flowing swimming?! Just feeling your muscles and the water, moving as you feel like it. When the obsession with observation (control?) comes, just accept it, and observe the observation from a distance.

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Post by Don Wright on Sun Dec 09, 2018 10:41 am

Sprinter wrote:Hi Don,
I believe that all your observation will lead you to hold your breath, involuntarily, which will create anxiety and disrupt your swimming.
Why don't you add to every session a few rounds of free-flowing swimming?! Just feeling your muscles and the water, moving as you feel like it. When the obsession with observation (control?) comes, just accept it, and observe the observation from a distance.

Hi "Sprinter"!

Yes a lot of sense in what you say! After walking the length after pool entry to check I am not in anyone's way - I already do about 4 lengths of really relaxed (i.e. slow'ish Smile ) FS - to just enjoy the sensation of it - also at the end of my session (although after an hour in the pool, my waterworks dept is getting a bit desperate!) I do another couple of lengths of similar FS style.

Yet, despite that relaxed style, with almost languid arm/leg action, I can't say that I often feel able to continue without a couple of secs rest (Um maybe 15 or more  Embarassed  - with my ticker pumping furiously!).  

I keep on "harping back" to the rate of very low energy expenditure I experience when swimming old English backstroke (of which I usually do some continuous - i.e. no rests - 4-6 lengths/session). There are times when either the arms are active or the legs, but no simultaneous activity.  There is also the way in which the breathing is done - from the streamline position the arms are swept out in a semicircle to each side and psychologically that action is like squeezing a bellows (the FS equivalent might be thought of as the path the stroking arm travels under the body) - so that is the time for steady exhalation.  The inhalation is quite brief, taking place as the thighs are parted and the lower legs are dropped in preparation for the outward lower leg swirl, and recovery of the arms overhead (the air in the chest counteracting the downward weight of the recovering arms, passing directly overhead, back to the streamline position - so the head doesn't get pushed below the surface.

By adopting a hybrid FS style - closely similar to one of my FS "variants" that I posted on, a long time ago - of doing the inhalation arm stroke, and the non-breathing side's stroke, as I steadily exhale, then leaving that (now) rear arm by the hip for an instant's rest - and almost ceasing any light flutter kicking, pushing the head down below the level of the lead upper arm to help keep the legs up near the surface (i.e. "pressing the buoy") during the exhalation - all done in a "Superman Glide" attitude before starting the next cycle. I think this might help me to continue (despite the terrible "STOP-GO-STOP-GO-..." action), without the wretched "end of length" rests. That should ensure I get enough air, plenty of time for exhalation, and limb rest when there is no activity at all for an instant.  Rolling Eyes Will try this out at my next session tomorrow!

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Post by cottmiler on Mon Dec 10, 2018 12:14 am

You talk about low energy expenditure being necessary to avoid being too puffed.  You are needing to work too hard on arm action to lift your body horizontal and to rotate when on your front.

I do think  it would be a good idea to try the Aquaspere fins to lift the legs up owing to their strong floating action.  If your arms and shoulder are ok then it,s still worth trying them.

You,ve not mentioned swimming with a pull buoy....

Paul Newsome,s squads practise variously with pull buoys, ankle bands, fins and Agility paddles.

By the way, they are much quicker than me so I just have to accept my limitations now and practise my slow non stop swimming. I had a first session in the sea yesterday, doing 400m in total. I must remember to not stop and admire the scenery as I lose body heat fast in the 19.9 C water. It was nice and swelly and necessitated a different arm action.

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Post by Don Wright on Mon Dec 10, 2018 10:28 am

cottmiler wrote:You talk about low energy expenditure being necessary to avoid being too puffed.  You are needing to work too hard on arm action to lift your body horizontal and to rotate when on your front.

I do think  it would be a good idea to try the Aquaspere fins to lift the legs up owing to their strong floating action.  If your arms and shoulder are ok then it,s still worth trying them.

You,ve not mentioned swimming with a pull buoy....

Paul Newsome,s squads practise variously with pull buoys,  ankle bands, fins and Agility paddles.  

By the way, they are much quicker than me so I just have to accept my limitations now and practise my slow non stop swimming.  I had a first session in the sea yesterday, doing 400m in total.  I must remember to not stop and admire the scenery as I lose body heat fast in the 19.9 C water.  It was nice and swelly and necessitated a different arm action.


Hi "cott..."!

On the first point you posted: -

You talk about low energy expenditure being necessary to avoid being too puffed.  You are needing to work too hard on arm action to lift your body horizontal and to rotate when on your front.

It's all a very complex situation this business of the rate of breathing and its extent - if it's insufficient, the muscles quickly tire (and this was evident when "Sprinter" encouraged me years ago, to do more, by the end of my 3rd length, the arm muscles were getting very fatigued and the breathing was getting too fraught to continue).  Don't forget, I wear BS for all my sessions now, so that lifts my middle.  I wrote in an earlier post about my little buoyancy experiments; first with the arms outstretched in streamline position - floated  horizontally without trouble, then brought one arm back to hip - floatability not so good when I looked down/back could see my legs were no longer up by the surface, finally both arm by hips - could look down/back and see feet sinking towards the floor.  So, I don't think your comment about "You are needing to work too hard on arm action to lift your body horizontal and to rotate" is entirely right!

On your 2nd point viz "You,ve not mentioned swimming with a pull buoy...." - One of the old SS coaching members gave me a stroke analysis yonks ago - and after my awful performance, got me to use a PB - an awful experience I would not wish to repeat , because it lifted my middle/upper legs but pitched my head deeper into the water making inhalation more difficult. (That was before me taking to wearing BS - and also before my sometime current practice of deliberately pushing the head down "pressing the buoy" to raise the legs nearer the surface! So I've got used to the business of pressing the head down a few inches below the surface, at the right times now)

What are the undersides of the Aquasphere fins like - do you reckon it would be slippery if standing on a glazed-tile pool floor Question


On your point about water temperature ("I must remember to not stop and admire the scenery as I lose body heat fast in the 19.9 C water.").  To think I have the cheek to grumble when my pool water is below the 25C!  Smile  There are times when I do a little shiver when I first get in, if the temp is below what they say it should be. I've become "softer" with the passing years - in my mid 20s I swam (briefly  Smile )  in water that was beginning to freeze over. My problem now is that my kidneys seem to pump so much, that after swimming for some 60-70 mins, am getting quite desperate for relief.

----------------------------------------------------------------

On a "hybrid FS" style to help me eliminate (or reduce) those "end-of-length" rests.  I suppose another possible style. might be for me to try a full "arm-catch-up" style, but leave both arms outstretched in front for a few seconds rest, before starting the UW action of the hitherto "waiting" arm.  By introducing that delay, it might be necessary for me to breathe bilaterally on each arm stroke!  Ideas!!!

Although when swimming on the tum, we were told to "always be exhaling when your face is in the water" - am beginning to wonder if it might in fact be better to retain the inhaled breath for a short instant before starting exhalation particularlly if swimming on one's back (there is quite a time gap between my inhalation time, and the start of exhalation when I swim E.B.S. - because air is needed in the chest for buoyancy during overhead arm recovery (to the gliding streamline position) - and the semi-circular arm action of "squeezing the bellows" isn't started until the arms are approx at 10:30 & 13:30 positions (head at 12:00 position) so as not to be pushing water sideways initially - allowing time for the "catch".

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Post by cottmiler on Mon Dec 10, 2018 12:58 pm

Images of Aquasphere fins removed for personal reasons.


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Post by Don Wright on Tue Dec 11, 2018 11:52 am

Thank you "cott...".  So they are the open-heel sort - and I should be able to stand OK on the glazed mini-tiles, as long as my heels are in contact with the floor!

My pool was quite busy when I went yesterday, so I didn't relax enough to properly "try-out" ideas for an FS variant that might help my breathing difficulty.   My prelim efforts were rather disappointing - but won't give up (yet! Smile ).

There has to be some solution to this silly business of being able to swim the old English back stroke continuously, without breathing problems - yet when "on the tum" swimming FS it's difficult to "push-on" beyond 2 lengths.  I know it's more difficult to exhale into water compared with air - but am not exactly a "newbie" now, and I do exhale apparently sufficiently.  I did think about whether making a really forcible exhalation would help matters - really squeezing in the diaphragm in the exhalation process - instead of using a more relaxed/steady exhalation.  The only idea I'm still pondering is if it's "beneficial" in my case, to inhale, then retain the breath for a short instant, before starting the steady exhale!? It might take a non-negligible instant for the alveoli in the lungs to re-act to the fresh inhalation and do their necessary work of re-oxygenating the blood - and of course - for the ticker to respond and pump that re-oxygenated blood around the body .  It's a bit too abstruse physiologically for me!  Rolling Eyes  I've just got to "scratch around" trying different things!


Afterthought! - I've just realized that the time for me to execute an "old English back stroke" cycle is probably a couple of seconds longer than my relaxed FS stroke cycle.  So I need to try to swim even slower with FS - then maybe the need for rests will be diminished! Am "working on" making the most of the FS glide (before momentum noticeably dies! Smile , also making slower arm recoveries, and UW pulls.


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Post by Don Wright on Thu Dec 27, 2018 2:29 pm

Think I'm on a fruitless endeavour, and that maybe I should just accept with gratitude what am still, in my condition  able to do.

On the business of being short of breath making it difficult for me to do much without frequent rests.  I saw a Doctor's response to some D.M. reader's question "Why do so many cyclists seem to suffer asthma?" .  His reply branched out to include other sports including swimming - which may be a factor in my difficulty, since it mentions fatigue and shortness of breath! : -

"   One in 11 children and one in 12 adults in Britain have asthma, an Allergy-triggeredconstriction of the bronchial tubes that tends to begin in childhood.
 Elite athletes have a different form of the illness called exercise-induced asthma (EIA).  Rapid inhalation of cold dry air
has been identified as a trigger. This results in coughing, tightening of the chest, wheezing, fatigue and shortness of breath.
 Research from 2004 indicates that EIA may be up to 5 times more common in Olympians than the general population.
  In 2016,John Dickinson, from Kent University of Sport and Exercise Sciences tested all 33 UK-based members of the British swimming squad and found 70% had some form of asthma.

 He tested cyclists from Team Sky and a third had the condition. Around half of cross-country skiers have it, as does marathon runner Paula Radcliffe.... (By Dr Ian Smith, Cambridge) "


Ok so we won't be finding cold dry air in a swim pool - but we are sucking in air that may have chlorinated traces.  Just a thought!!! I can vouch for the cold dry air causing trouble in the bronchial tubes - had a nasty occurrence of that when walking earlier this year - they put me through the chest pain protocol, but found nothing wrong, just put me on yet more pills - I must rattle with them!

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Post by Don Wright on Tue Jun 11, 2019 10:45 am

Think I may be "onto something" in my little efforts to do better with FS.

It all started with the weirdo hybrid stroke I sometimes do for fun, which is a variation on the US Seals Combat Side Stroke (my variation is slower than breast stroke - but it's relaxing and involves a slow exhalation. ) Then the next thing I discovered, was that when I do my super-relaxing Old English Backstroke (with the double arm pull/recovery, and the lower-leg swirl leg action) while doing a 1 or 2 sec glide - I consciously "stretched out" more than usual (better streamlining I guess) - and was surprised to find that the "improved body tone" helped me slip through the water better. I think Sheila Taormina in her books, is keen on this idea of "body tone" - keeping a firm/taut posture (not like a saggy bag of potatoes!).

 Then when I tried this doing a relaxed FS, inhaling on every 4th arm stroke, with an initially slow start to exhalation at the start of each stroke cycle - the result was much smoother and less tiring for me.  So I think the lesson for me, is slower exhalation at the start of a stroke cycle, stretching out more to get that better "body tone", and making sure am keeping to the FQS principle with the arm action (which necessarily includes a front-end mini-glide!). During the first 2 arm strokes of each 4 arm stroke cycle, I push my head down a bit "pressing the buoy" in order to help keep the legs up high. 

I think it's been said by some in the past that "Swimming is a stretching exercise!" - well it's taken me a very long time to take that idea "on-board"!

My efforts at fly stroke have become very much worse - and the trouble seems to be muscular weakness in the upper arms. To counter that, have pulled out my "Therabands", looped over each side of a door's levers to do pulling exercises! Um!!! - the only problem is that, like doing my "oldies" leg exercises, to strengthen the leg muscles - so they don't "give way" unexpectedly! Smile (The worst one for getting "puffed out" is the one doing a set of 20 quick stands/sits  without any help from the arms).  Do I actually devote much time to doing those exercises! Evil or Very Mad As they say "The road to hell is paved with good intentions"! Having just passed my 83rd B'day, I would prefer to lounge around! Laughing

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Post by cottmiler on Tue Jun 11, 2019 11:56 am

Your post's mention of "Swimming is a Stretching Exercise" reminds me of the Shoulder Throw Drill described in another thread.

The aim is to momentarily touch the side of your stubbly chin on each shoulder which makes the body stretch out further.

Naturally the head must stay inline.

This enables more body roll (streamlining) and longer distance per stroke.

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Post by Sprinter on Wed Jun 12, 2019 1:54 pm

[quote="cottmiler"]The aim is to momentarily touch the side of your stubbly chin on each shoulder which makes the body stretch out further.

Naturally the head must stay inline.
[/quote]

The goal is to have the arms straight (one can check whether the elbows are locking), in positions 11-13, head straight, legs without bending in hip or knees, and staying horizontal, and without bend in the water.

That alone is HARD ENOUGH. Especially when maintaining that (mostly) during the stroke.

The slower you swim, the more bending there is. Actually I believe that for the slow swimmer the very horizontal body position is harmful: creates breathing problems, due to lacking flexibility very little power can be projected -- and due to the slow speed the horizontal drag is much reduced anyway.

But there is absolutely no need, and it is likely even harmful, to add some additional stretch, typically the over-reaching of the arms.

[quote="cottmiller"]
This enables more body roll (streamlining) and longer distance per stroke.[/quote]

Streamlining is worsened by any body roll, due to the turbulences, the increased frontal area, and the missing lift.
Just try it out: make pushoffs from the wall. You'll see that far best is flat (as every mammal in the water will tell you -- mammals swim flat in the water), on the side is worse, and the worst is adding any rotation.

And distance per stroke has not much to do with "reach", since at the front of the stroke there is basically no power (especially for non-athletes).

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Post by Sprinter on Wed Jun 12, 2019 6:27 pm

When I above say, at the beginning, "The goal is ...", then I mean that for swimming fast frontcrawl (not for some exercise).

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Post by Don Wright on Thu Jun 13, 2019 12:03 pm

Sprinter wrote:When I above say, at the beginning, "The goal is ...", then I mean that for swimming fast frontcrawl (not for some exercise).

At my age/level of fitness, swimming is just about trying to do my little best with my current capabilities (which sadly becomes a bit more limited as the years whizz by).
 
I've been through that "phase" of "over-reaching" in FS (just to add a few inches to the stroke path length) yonks ago - it causes the hip on the side of the forward-reaching arm, to move in the direction of that arm, and involves  body twist.  I was more concerned with keeping a taut/firm body shape  (my earlier mention of "like a sack of potatoes" body attitude was a gross exaggeration! Smile  ).

Re Sprinter's comments about body rotation - I looked at what "M" had to say about it in his tome (I nearly discarded my old copy - but then thought better of it).   He made it clear that he did not believe that any propulsion could be gained from rolling the body - but that some rotation was necessary for FS-ers, and experience in trying to make an inhalation by swimming "flat" and just turning the neck to hopefully get the mouth above the water line confirms this!

M's words of wisdom on this are : -

"...rolling the body from side to side is essential to efficient front crawl and back stroke swimming, although not for the reasons usually espoused. Body roll does not add to propulsive force, except indirectly. Forward propulsion will suffer if swimmers do not roll the hips sufficiently and in proper sequence with the arm stroke because ... lateral alignment will be disrupted and both the under-water and surface movements of the arms will be compromised."

Sprinter wrote:Streamlining is worsened by any body roll, due to the turbulences, the increased frontal area, and the missing lift.
Just try it out: make pushoffs from the wall. You'll see that far best is flat (as every mammal in the water will tell you -- mammals swim flat in the water), on the side is worse, and the worst is adding any rotation.

I think it is only humans that have sufficient shoulder mobility to make any vertical and lateral front limb movement, so dogs etc are limited to just vertical  "doggy paddle" movements with their paws.  (Which reminds me how difficult it is to keep Labradors out of the water - or inconveniently long muddy ditches! Yet on the other hand, our 2 Cairn Terriers never took to the water - they just "froze" with fear! With our last terrier while on holiday with our daughter and her Labrador in the Lake District - the Lab was nearly halfway across a lake and had to be tempted back to shore with a treat - our Cairn just stood in the shallows watching the Lab with obvious envious curiosity! That reminded me of my reactions when when I was 7 and a neighbour's 9 y.o. lad took me to our town's Lido - I froze with fear/envious curiosity, while he splashed/swam happily around. It took me another 14 years before I was determined to learn to swim!)

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Post by Sprinter on Thu Jun 13, 2019 8:24 pm

Sure, there is always some rotation. But for fast swimming one keeps the hip-rotation to the minimum. That is, no rotation for its own sake.

Concerning mammals in the water, I was more thinking of aquatic mammals, or even "completely aquatic mammals".
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aquatic_mammal

The point is, they don't swim on their side, as TI is likely still proposing.
Their "swim like a fish" actually is doubly wrong: not only are mammals not fish, but also no fish swims on the side! Likely no animal which is capable of swimming would ever swim on the side, if not forced, or?
And then to topple the absurdity: imagine any animal, swimming on one side, then rotating to the other side.
Playing of course is fine, but otherwise, I guess it'll never happen.

Rotation is just a necessity for the front crawl, but has negative value on its own, thus should be minimised. For speed that is --- the slower one swims the less that matters.

That statement "Forward propulsion will suffer if swimmers do not roll the hips sufficiently and in proper sequence with the arm stroke because ... lateral alignment will be disrupted and both the under-water and surface movements of the arms will be compromised." is very vague. But the "sufficiently" can be interpreted in the above sense of "just rotate as necessary to perform the movements".
Though the formulation "rolling the body from side to side" is strange.

Perhaps the most recent overview on "body roll in swimming" is
 https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02640410903508847
 Body roll in swimming: A review
There is no practical conclusion there.

For slower swimming, with its reduced lift, the swimmer likely (perhaps even naturally) can not lie horizontally in the water, and there'll be a lot of movements in all directions, including the rotation. Then the issue of rotation is likely not very important anyway. I think with restricted abilities it is most important NOT to think about any of the issues which are only of relevance for fast swimming -- there is no relation to elite swimming, it is a completely different game.

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Post by Don Wright on Tue Jun 18, 2019 10:43 am

Reading that last post with it's mention of the folly of thinking that swimming on the side was a good idea - I had a sudden thought that might explain why that supposedly crazy idea may not in fact be so crazy after all!

Like others of my old-age group, buoyancy is a very big issue (possibly due to the cumulative effects on the lungs of years of pollution?).  What happens when one swims on the side - the lower side of the chest with that lower side's buoyant lung, is immersed further down in the water than the top other side of the chest with its buoyant lung. (I did by experiment yonks ago, discover that I am more buoyant when lying completely on one side than the other.  In fact I found that when on my left side my buoyancy was unstable, my lower left side wanted to be the uppermost - well I did say I was a freak!  Smile ) This is to me anyway, seemingly like what we aim to achieve when swimming flat and "pressing the buoy" to immerse our buoyant parts deeper into the water and so get a buoyant re-active upthrust, that raises the legs up nearer to the surface. When one is more horizontal, then one can swim more effectively, with less drag from otherwise lower-lying body parts!


I think TI produced a book yonks ago that said the idea of swimming on the side was an attempt to emulate the action of the old fast sailing tea clippers, which had a narrow beam but a sharper keel than most other vessels at the time.  So the book's author suggested that swimmers might also benefit by spending more time swimming tilted to one side than swimming flat (nothing mentioned about about rotation).

Re this "on the side" business : I recall reading once that Misty Hyman and her coach, when investigating how best to swim UW body dolphin at starts/turns - found that the best results were obtained when Misty swam with her body tilted to one side instead of flat.  They wondered if the effect of the B.D. undulations,  were being more attenuated by the "shallower" water below and above the a person swimming B.D. (the propulsive disturbances wastefully bouncing off the nearer water's surface and the pool floor underneath the swimmer) - than when the undulation incorporated some degree of body tilt, so that the there was a larger volume of water in the direction of the pool walls in which those disturbances caused by the undulations could act - i.e. reduction in attenuation effects!  I don't know if they are still around on YouTube but there were some old clips of bods swimming B.D. UW, and there was at least one showing the swimmer tilted and not flat! The amount of body tilt was probably 30-45 degrees, at max, below the horizontal - i.e not as dramatic as being completely on the side!

There is another case that comes to mind, of getting best results by being tilted to one side.  It is in the case of a sailing dinghy, heeled over, when "reaching" with the wind coming directly from the side - crew desperately hanging out to windward with feet under toe straps to avoid a capsize, and the centre-board right down to reduce side-slippage.  But in this case it is clear that the reason for that fastest of manoeuvres, is the shape of the hull and wind force - so it's not really relevant to us swimmers!

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