TI Swimming with Shinji Takeuchi, Second Lesson

Yesterday I had my second lesson with Coach Shinji. Once again it was full of insight and watching the video of me swimming afterwards was again painful (haha!). But Coach Shinji is great at breaking down the details of swimming and explaining it well, and also has taught enough people to know that there isn’t one way of swimming that fits everyone. He is able to articulate things to try to improve someone’s stroke as an individual, versus trying to shoehorn the “one way of swimming” into everyone.
Some things I learned from yesterday:
1. I need to be completely relaxed in the water. That means holding my body straight without tension but being relaxed. I tend to stiffen my neck too much in particular.
2. He advocates a flatter back. In watching my videos, I seems to arch a bit. I need to figure out how to rotate my hips forward just a tad to reduce the arch in my back.
3. I discovered my head position was too tipped forward, meaning my chin was too close to my chest. He told me that they tell their students to look directly down at the bottom of the pool because too many look forward. However, then he told me that actually you should be looking very slightly forward once you get more advanced.
For me, when my head was too tipped forward, it proved to be a factor that slowed me down considerably. I think the water was being stopped by the way my head was positioned, and once I tilted my head upward slightly, it presented a better profile for cutting through the water.
4. The under-switch is very interesting as its apparently used for underwater swimming in competition in Japan. There is an interesting video of a group of swimmers who swim the length of a 25 yard pool the whole way underwater using the under-switch stroke.
I also need to widen the pause position slightly, which is when my hand comes up under my body and I pause with it approximately extended to the same level as my other arm’s elbow. It is pointed too much towards my centerline.
5. He suggested I change my 6 beat kick (well, my feeble attempt at 6 beat kicking) to kicking my top leg a little bit less in frequency, and my bottom leg with more frequency. It’s definitely a bit weird to not be kicking with the same frequency and took me a while to get the hang of it, but somehow the different kicking frequencies allowed me to travel faster while kicking only. I need to research this more.
6. He taught me the two beat kick, which I think I like better because it allows me to maintain an undisturbed streamline better than kicking a lot. It also means less kicking, which conserves energy a lot more than kicking more. The funny thing for me is that the two beat kick means that I need to kick the bottom leg as the lead arm, which is on the bottom, strokes back, or kick the same leg as the stroking arm. I definitely need to practice this more. I seem to kick both legs when I try to kick the left leg. Need to uncoordinate the legs so that only one leg is kicking, and also at the right time. For some reason, I want to kick the top leg when I stroke the bottom arm.
For practice, I am to accentuate the kick on the stroke while attempting to keep the other leg extended, straight, and motionless.
7. I got into the zipper-switch practice today. This is beginning of practice the over-arm recovery. In TI, the elbow is high, but the wrist should be directly down from the elbow. Also, the elbow should always be at 90 degrees. As the elbow comes up, you need to lead with the elbow and not with the hand. This keeps the elbow high and gives you a reserve of potential energy which you use to help drive the arm forward once it enters the water. Also, I learned to actually extend with the shoulder blade versus lifting the elbow; this has the interesting effect of dragging the side of my body forward, which (bonus!) then brings the back half of my body up and helping keep my hips high in the water. Definitely a good thing to help cure me of my hip dragging swim style!
For the drill, I hold my elbow at a position that is about the same as where I pause for the under-switch, and then drive my hand down into the water with the potential energy stored by the high elbow, as well as using the hip turn for giving it even more energy.
8. TI Swimming teaches stroking your arms along tracks, which are the width of your shoulders. One thing that I learned was that the tracks should be positioned when you are flat on the water. However, when you’re swimming, your body is angled BUT the tracks remain at the same width as you’re flat. Because your body is angled, the result is that where your shoulders are during the angled body position are actually too narrow. This means that as I extend my arm out during a stroke, it needs to drift to the outside slightly to compensate for the fact that I am angled.
If my hands get too narrow during the stroke, this is bad because it slows me down as it tips my body in strange ways, creating more drag.
I’m looking forward to drilling all this over the next few weeks, and then onwards to my next lesson!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *