Monday, December 31, 2007

Learning Routines

To begin the season this year, our coach sat each team down so we could select completely new music and write new routines. Because the routines were such a work in progress and underwent so many changes on what seemed to be a week to week basis, it was difficult to learn them.

The way our team overcame this obstacle was to designate a secretary. Actually, she kind of designated herself. She wrote out the routines for her own reference then very graciously shared it with the rest of us.

It turned out to be exactly what we needed. By the time we'd hit the fifth revision of the first half of the tech our heads would've been spinning with trying to remember what we changed and what we changed back etc.

The weekly routine draft allowed us to keep everything straight. It had an added benefit of keeping everyone on the right count. It was easier to question and correct counts when you could see them on paper rather than just trying to hear them while land drilling.

There are a couple ways to write out the routine.

Close to front layout 1-2, Pike 3-4, lift left leg to crane 5-6, Open to split 7-8

1 – Rt bent knee
2 – Lft bent knee
3 – Rt bent knee
4 – Hold
5 – Rt ballet leg
6 - Hold

It all depends on what's easier for you to read. I happen to prefer the former, I suspect because that's the first way I ever saw a routine written. I also found that it uses less paper.

If you can get a routine down on no more than two sheets of paper, you can put it in a gallon sized plastic bag and take it to the pool with you without worrying about getting it wet. I've found that the One Zip bags work best because the paper fits inside perfectly.

Happy swimming!!

Figures: Front Walkover

Front Walkover

In routines, you may have another way to begin the walkout, but for our purposes, we’ll start with a Canoe Scull.

As you can see from the illustration below, lay flat on your stomach with your neck arched so your head is above the water. Press up on your heels to keep your feet at the surface. Your hands will be flexed at the wrist like you’re pushing something away. Actually you will be pushing the water away as you scull under your hips with fingertips pointed on an angle to the bottom of the pool. You should travel forward in this position:

To assume the front layout position, extend your neck to gently lay your face in the water. Next, slide your hands forward until they are in front of your head and angling toward the bottom of the pool at about a 45° angle. Cup your hands like cobra heads and scull in and out in what’s called an Alligator or Russian scull. You should look like the below illustration and traveling forward.

To pike, bend only at your hips while reaching forward. Your hands should barrel scull over your head like you’re trying to knock a top hat off as one coach describes it. The scull keeps your momentum going as you pike. This is important because you want your hips to replace your head. Your ending position will look like this:

Notice where your hands end. As you pike, you’ll pull your arms in and down to your sides. Your palms will be up (relative to you) like you’re holding a tray. They will scull in and out in Support Scull.

Now you’re ready to lift your first leg. While in support scull, make sure your toe is pointed and lift the leg up and over your body. There are actually two positions here.

First the crane which you’ll pass through…

…to finish with the split: Notice that your hands never leave support scull. When you’re just beginning, it’s natural to let your hands flail over your head during this figure to regain your balance. Try to control them. Flailing only makes things worse and will cause you to travel when you should be stationary.

Another thing that could happen when you reach this position is that you tip back and forth. This is caused by not extending through your legs. While in the split position, make sure you stretch like you’re trying to touch both walls with your toes.

Something else to be aware of in this position is to make sure that your head is directly under your hips. Your walkout will be much more successful when all you have to worry about is getting the leg into position and not your whole body.

Time to lift the second leg. While still in support scull, stretch the toe on your back leg toward the side of pool a bit harder then lift it up and over your body. This time you’ll have three positions.

First the Knight or Aurora position:

Then the surface arch:

Finally, the back layout:
Note that your hands should still be in support scull while in the Aurora position. After your leg passes vertical, your hands should sweep behind you. Note their position during the surface arch.

While in the surface arch you’ll need to be aware of your leg position. If you’re not super flexible, you will have the tendency to roll the hip of your first leg out a little bit to get more stretch. As you lift the second leg over, be sure to roll your hip back in line or you’ll exit the figure at an angle. Both hips should be flat on the surface once you hit your surface arch position.

From there, you roll your torso up one vertebra at a time until your body is flat on the surface in a back layout. Your hands are over head and flexed like they were in the canoe scull, but this time you’ll be doing a torpedo scull.

And there you have it! Your first front walkover. The complete figure looks like this:
Happy Swimming!!

Unless otherwise noted, all illustrations can be found in the appendix of the FINA Rule Book.