Fly topic = NATASWIM's "Taking a bow"!

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Post by Don Wright on Sun Apr 07, 2019 11:11 am

Have been attempting for a long time to "re-gain" some of my former "limited" ability to swim fly.  Apart from a timing problem, I found something far more serious - difficulty in getting the mouth above the water line for an inhalation - see my last paragraph!   I now know the answer to that - it is due to a permanent problem of osteo-arthritic curvature of my spine "bowed over" a bit now with age.  Have had to resort to repeating a sequence of "one no-breathing full stroke followed by one stroke of 1-arm fly with breathing to the side as in FS".

I used to be quite sure, that in order to raise the legs up to the surface, one had to nod the head down momentarily at the start of each stroke when the arms entered the water after recovery.  However, in "surfing around" for info I came across a NATASWIM article - which instead of a "nod of the head" - "takes a bow" Laughing Essentially, it is "Pressing the buoy"!  In the action recommended in their blog on butterfly drills, they recommend that the head is kept in line with the chest as a fixed unit as the "bow" is taken, which involves bending forwards if vertical, or down if horizontal, through some 6" max - (not bending from the waist!).  One then reverts to the former position, and repeats the "bow" at the next appropriate stage.  

 I tried it, pushing-off from the wall on the tum with arms at the sides - pressing head and upper chest as a fixed unit down a few inches, "bowing" forwards a bit, then quickly returning to a normal position.  Kept on repeating in a continuous action, till needed a breath - was delighted to find that this resulted in covering a good distance quicker and more effectively than my former more "laboured" method of doing a dolphin kick upbeat (almost sending a ripple up the spine vertebrae by vertebrae!).  The relaxed lower part of the body went through an easy undulation in response to the upper body's "momentary bow".  That "bowing action brings the relaxed lower limbs up nearer the surface, performing an undulation which finishes with a downward snap of the feet.


 Sadly in doing the blog's dryland drill - back to an upright wall, with head/butt/legs in contact with the wall drawing in the abs to reduce the gap between butt and spine, as a prelude to taking a bow, - I found that it was impossible for me to raise my head to make contact with the wall - that's ageing for you!

I've tried some other ideas, like doing a stroke of "Breast Fly" in between non-breathing full strokes - so that in the former I could press down sufficiently during the arms out-sweep, to get my mouth above the water line for a breath.  Of course pressing down with the arms, even for a short while during such an out-sweep, isn't going to help keep a horizontal body attitude!  But the advantage of "Breast fly" is that one can concentrate on the UW arm action better - knowing that one can easily get the mouth above the water line for a breath - even if one does have a crooked back!


Last edited by Don Wright on Sun Apr 14, 2019 9:50 am; edited 1 time in total

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Post by Sprinter on Wed Apr 10, 2019 8:59 pm

Just some quick comments.

Currently I do butterfly very rarely. Just once or twice per week a few lengths in a 25m pool, warming down. And none the last 2-3 months, due to some shoulder problems. Nevertheless I am making good progress. Namely my progress with front crawl directly translates into progress with butterfly. So yesterday just doing one easy length, it went down in 22s (25m), very easily. Felt nice. I was basically just doing front-crawl with two arms and without much flutter-kick. Extremely shallow, no special action with the head, the legs just not being in the way.

For the butterfly non-specialist that looks like a reasonable program to me: not doing anything of these butterfly-specific techniques:
- No pressing down of the chest --- I have some hunchback myself, very low flexibility on the chest, so I don't gain much from that.
- Very little emphasise on that dolphin-kick: that's just very slow for me, is just in the way.

If have seen late starters, which have chosen the butterfly as their main stroke. They are trying very hard to make these undulations, these bigger movements. Without doing much, just skimming the surface, I seem to do better than them. So it might be worth to start with just staying at the surface, making relaxed double-front-crawl arm-pulls and some rhythmical small double-flutter-kicks, with emphasise on staying with all body parts at the surface, all the time. Shallow arm-recovery, and no hesitations (especially avoiding the stall at the beginning of the pull -- although I actually like it, as a stretching exercise, to quickly go into streamlining position with the arms, and to start the pull from there).

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Post by Don Wright on Thu Apr 11, 2019 10:09 am

Sprinter wrote:...If have seen late starters, which have chosen the butterfly as their main stroke. They are trying very hard to make these undulations, these bigger movements. Without doing much, just skimming the surface, I seem to do better than them. So it might be worth to start with just staying at the surface, making relaxed double-front-crawl arm-pulls and some rhythmical small double-flutter-kicks, with emphasise on staying with all body parts at the surface, all the time. Shallow arm-recovery, and no hesitations (especially avoiding the stall at the beginning of the pull -- although I actually like it, as a stretching exercise, to quickly go into streamlining position with the arms, and to start the pull from there).

  There have been occasions when I wondered (but didn't try! Smile  ) about forgetting any body action and just relied on arm action and the "body weight shift" as the arms recover to produce a small undulation (without using a monofin) - with very little vertical displacement.  Think you're right, "skimming the surface" is the ideal way to do it! Unfortunately if one has "sinky legs" (that's me!) - I find that a "head nod", leads a moment later to the soles of the feet coming up clear of the surface (my old DVD of Phelps doing his stuff is accompanied by Bowman saying Phelp's feet "appear to hold water" as they emerge - but they quickly drop below, but near, the surface as the feet are brought up nearer the butt (equivalent to throwing the thighs forwards) during the of start of the major kick downbeat.

Have noticed that in my sequence of "one full non-breathing stroke followed by a one-arm breathing stroke" I tend to go off-course, and need to correct that.  However that doesn't occur with using a "breast fly" stroke as my "inhalation one". The only snag with that sequence, is that the out-sweep arm actions, of "full" and "breast fly" strokes are somewhat different.  Got to get that inhalation in during the early part of the out-sweep during the "breast fly" stroke - whereas in the full stroke, the inhalation should(!) come much later as the hands press back, from under the body, in the up-sweep.

There is of course, the possibility of inhaling to the side, as in FS, when doing a full fly stroke arms recovery - but have not found it very successful in my case.

What I have found only recently, is that my arm action is definitely faulty (hands not brought close together, and not "passing the elbows" i.e. getting them under the body for the "push"), and that means there isn't sufficient "lift" under the body during the arms up-sweep, to get the mouth above the water line for an inhalation. I should end the "scoop" with the upper arms just beneath the "shadow" of the rib cage, with the hands close together (thumbs almost touching so the 2 hands act like a big paddle for the up-sweep) below the head or neck, and forearms inclined, at perhaps 45-60 degrees below the surface.  When the arms then, do the initially downward, then back/up "push" of the up-sweep, using the triceps properly - there is much more of an upward "lift" of the torso making it easier to snatch a breath of air.  Snag!!! -  the more the upwards "lift" of the torso - the more likely the legs will sink unless the last stage of the major dolphin kick's downbeat (when the legs are straightened) is sufficiently powerful and correctly timed to counteract such a sinky legs problem.   

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Post by Don Wright on Tue Apr 23, 2019 11:54 am

Gone off the idea of NATASWIM's "Taking a bow" - I'll stick to my old method of momentarily pushing the head down in order top elevate the legs.

I did ,"en passant",  discover - (despite my moans that the "buoyancy uplift" when wearing buoyancy shorts precluded doing much UW body dolphin) - that instead of aiming for the floor at push-offs (as was my wont when pushing off from the deep end in my previous 25m pool), just being content to aim for a couple of feet below the surface, it was possible to get in at least 3 dolphin waggles before imminent break-through to the surface.  I could hear the splash as my heels broke the surface on kick upbeats each time - but never mind eh! Smile

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Post by cottmiler on Wed Apr 24, 2019 8:12 am

Don, don,t ever stop on posting since we seem to get a lot of views despite few contributions.

Everything anyone says makes one think about the swimming conundrum.

I am back on the Total Immersion track (or twin tracks!) where I started in 1998. You can never do the basics enough. Same with my tennis where I am learning to play left handed and gaining massively from the excellent videos now available.

Have you caught up with poor SwimSmooth Paul Newsome,s spine injury re-occurence? Info on Twitter.

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Post by Don Wright on Wed Apr 24, 2019 8:16 pm

cottmiler wrote:
...Have you caught up with poor SwimSmooth Paul Newsome,s spine injury re-occurence?  Info on Twitter.

No! I  didn't know about that - since as a "stuck in his ways oldie", I refuse to "get aboard" the Twitter, Facebook etc, bandwagon!  Getting over a spinal injury can be a grim business.  I damaged a lumbar disc in my mid-30s, so I know all about the miseries - like having to crawl on the floor (unable to stand upright because of pain at the hips - nerve spasms - for a couple of weeks) when not in bed resting (with a thick board under the mattress), and a back of a chair in front of me when in the loo, to drape the arms over when on the "throne", so as to support the weight of the upper body.  It does heal after a while - but there is always a weakness there! In my case, it has led to bad permanent spinal curvature - my upper body is tilted to the left (to ease the pressure on my "iffy" right hip), but my head is permanently tilted to the right to compensate for that abnormal weight distribution. When walking outdoors, have had to resort to a stick now, to help also with a "loss of balance" problem (it happens to most "oldies"), and have also tried using a stick in each hand, in "Nordic Walking" style, to equalize the pressure on the hips.  However I feel a bit self-conscious about doing that - 'cos it's only a short way from using a "Zimmer" frame!  Happily all this stuff gets forgotten when swimming, the water supports all the "achey" bits. Smile

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