“The whole point is to be relaxed and centered during the storm” -Eney Jones
Forward breath, two beat cross-over, Chinese take-out and driving with a snorkel. What the heck are we talking about?
Swimming, of course. Actually, we’re talking about downright intelligence of technique and execution that is steeped in science and equals less resistance and more flow in movement through the water.
Eney Jones is our guest today and she is straight out of the box. In other words, she is intelligent. She has an ability to take data and information and create new concepts that yield results. She has produced innovative tools and techniques that have greatly improved the performance of many well-known athletes. Eney is always stretching possibility and she does this by remaining in a state of curiosity. She has what yogis describe as a “beginners mind”. Refusing to rely on her decades of expertise, she is open to learning and by not resting on her laurels, she has become one of the most sought after swim coaches in the world.
The daughter of an Olympic swimmer and world record holder, Eney was putting down 10,000 yards a day in the pool at the age of thirteen. She was literally born to swim and through a lifetime of being submerged, she is now living her purpose more than ever as she guides athletes, every day, to finding their most efficient stroke and movement through water.
Eney combines the principles of yoga and athletics to pull out the highest potential in each athlete and she believes, above all else, that we must enjoy what we do with our heart. Combining love and strength in our sport equals our greatest performance. By not giving the negative any energy she draws upon the unique strengths of each athlete to create their optimal body/mind connection in sport and life.
Everyone works the bottom of their stroke, we reach, then push and propel ourselves forward. But we are dealing with two different elements while swimming, water and air. It is easy to be more deliberate underwater in a denser material, but rarely do swimmers work the “recovery” part of their stroke. They even hear the word recovery and they slow down and relax, and place their catch. Instead we need to speed up our airspeed as I call Split Tempo.
Having more speed and alacrity in the air will create a more deliberate forceful catch. Speed creates power. I have always found this helpful in Open Water but last week end watched it in Caeleb Dressel’s 40:40 100 relay split. In sprinting you want more length in the front of your stroke. The higher you can be in the water the easier it is to push yourself forward.
When you tell swimmers to speed up their tempo often they shorten their stroke. Working on Split Tempo will allow the stroke to be longer under water and faster through the air. In Caelebs’ 100 free split in the relay each arm underwater was .33 seconds. His left arm straighter and faster thru the air was .21 seconds and his right more arced arm thru the air was .23 seconds for a 1.1 second rotation of both arms. This is quite amazing because his is 6’3” inches tall. On a Finis Tempo trainer setting #1 set at 1:1 the beep is when his left arm hits.
Katie Ledecky’s overall Tempo in the mile is 1:37 ( she is 6 feet tall) but once again she is faster thru the air than the water. Usually the difference is not as pronounced as Dressels’, but that is why most people are looking at his feet or just feeling a wave go by.
There are a few ways to work this:
On land – Keep you upper thoracic mobile. Everyone uses cables to mimic swimming, but have the cables behind you and punch forward and down. Before a race rather than swing your arms around bend over and cross front and back ( think Phelps) .
In the water – Use shells, biscuit sand dollars, whiffle balls or tennis balls with holes: something that will fill up underneath and drain thru the air.
Drill – Grab paddles over the front end, slice thru the air, punch the catch.
Be deliberate and be fast thru the air and you will find your times dropping from easily from there.
Eney Joneshas achieved remarkably diverse success as a leading pool, open water and Ironman triathlon swimmer, and is also a yoga instructor.
Masters National Champion 100-200-400-500-1500-1650 5k freestyle 2009
Open Water 5k Champion Perth Australia, May 2008.
National Masters Champion 200-400-1500 freestyle Champion, Portland Oregon, August, 2008.
Overall Champion Aumakua 2.4k Maui Hawaii, September 2008
Waikiki Rough Water Swim 3rd place 2006, second place Overall 2009, 3rd place 2012
European Record Holder and Masters Swimming Champion, 2005. Records included 200, 400, 800, 1500 m freestyle
Over twenty time finalist in U.S. Swimming Nationals, including Olympic Trials 1980
Gold medal NCAA 800 yd freestyle relay 1979, silver Medalist 200 yd freestyle 1979. United States National Team 1979-1980.
Professional Triathlete 1983-1991. First woman out of the water in every Hawaiian Ironman participated (6).
Grant Holicky, head coach of Rallysport Aquatics (RACE) in Boulder, Colorado, has been working with elite open water swimmers for several years now. Two of his most notable athletes are Joey Pedraza, who finished third in the 5k at the 2014 Nationals, and Christine Jennings, who has been to both World Championships and the Pan Pacific Championships for open water.
With all this success, plus the success that Coach Holicky has with his pool swimmers, you would assume that he has some of the best facilities in the country. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth, RallySport Aquatics practice in a six lane, hotel pool. Oh and it is outside the ENTIRE year. In Colorado. That makes for some very cold morning practices…
Longmont police patrol Cmdr. Dave Moore wanted to do a happy dance in his weekly command staff meeting Tuesday morning, but he controlled his giddiness in front of his colleagues.
Moore was grateful to learn that he was the last of 10 Ironman Boulder 2017 entrants chosen at random to compete in the Oct. 14 Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii — a qualification-only race for a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run.
“I figured I’d have to be doing Ironmans until I was 80 just to qualify,” Moore, 46, said. “When only three people compete in your age group, you’ve got a good chance of making it in.” …
He said his wife registered him earlier this year before he knew there would be a drawing, but thought it’d be neat to have a shot at the elite race. He said he believed on Monday the chance was already over and that when his colleagues walked in the conference room, it was for a presentation.
“And then when I turned the other way and I saw Dave walking in the room, that’s when I kind of realized what it’s about,” Moore said.
Ironman Boulder race director Dave Christen draped a yellow and orange lei over Moore’s neck and blue uniform, congratulating him and offering his support.
“I think we’ll get everyone together, the 10 people that won, and connect all of you guys so you have a group to go to Kona with,” Christen said in the hallway outside the conference room.
“With power comes great responsibility” Attributed to Voltaire and also said by Uncle Ben in Spiderman.
The swim stroke is broken into three phases: The catch phase – which can be a spearfish, over the barrel, or a classic reach and set pool catch. The power phase – the middle part of your stroke, which involves a press to get the wrist back to the elbow. The propulsion phase – In a distance race it is the back or the finish of your stroke – in a sprint you need to make it happen earlier by catching earlier and engaging your latissimus dorsi earlier. The Power Phase – 41 degrees of power
After working at Swim Labs for over a year, and spending countless hours researching, analyzing, and measuring angles of hundreds of elite swimmers in the power phase, I have found that is that there is a 41 degree angle of power with the elbows out and the forearms and wrists in, in the power phase.
Katie Ledecky and Michael Phelps are both at 41 degrees. They both have made a Superman logo in the middle of their stroke. Think of a very solid T (sternum and shoulders,) and inflated chest and the Superman logo. Not only do you need to get the angle right but to have full power of the latissimus dorsi, you also need to have the wrist and forearm in line and the hand down to engage the full power of the latissimus dorsi.
The latissimus dorsi is stronger and more powerful than your shoulders will ever be, Even at a 90 degree angle, with your palms straight down you are engaging your lats. But now knowing the uber elite are making a Superman logo, it is nice to have a visual and know you have 41 degrees in which you can work and derive more power.
The forearms have more surface area than your hands, so always use them. Proprioceptively we are so connected our hands but we need to heighten our awareness, expand our horizons and use everything, we can to make our swim faster and easier.
At the end of Voltaire’s actual quote he says prudence, or cautiousness, (which I consider deliberation very important in the power phase), they shall owe their success and their glory.
“Ce sera à leur énergie, à leur courage, et sur-tout à leur prudence, qu’ils devront leur succès et leur gloire.” “To their energy, to their courage, and above all to their prudence, they shall owe their success and their glory.”
It will be nice to attribute your success to a higher power… even if it is a man made Superpower.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Eney Jones has achieved remarkably diverse success as a leading pool, open water and Ironman triathlon swimmer, and is also a yoga instructor. Masters National Champion 100-200-400-500-1500-1650 5k freestyle 2009 Open Water 5k Champion Perth Australia, May 2008. National Masters Champion 200-400-1500 freestyle Champion, Portland Oregon, August, 2008. Overall Champion Aumakua 2.4k Maui Hawaii, September 2008 Waikiki Rough Water Swim 3rd place 2006, second place Overall 2009, 3rd place 2012 European Record Holder and Masters Swimming Champion, 2005. Records included 200, 400, 800, 1500 m freestyle Over twenty time finalist in U.S. Swimming Nationals, including Olympic Trials 1980 Gold medal NCAA 800 yd freestyle relay 1979, silver Medalist 200 yd freestyle 1979. United States National Team 1979-1980. Professional Triathlete 1983-1991. First woman out of the water in every Hawaiian Ironman participated (6).
Swimming is one of those things that, no matter how good you are or how long you’ve been doing it, you can always learn how to improve. I’m a life-long swimmer. High school butterflier (ouch), high school swim coach, US Masters swimmer since 2004, and now triathlete. Swimming is my JAM. I’m not speedy, but I sure can swim a pretty freestyle.
I recently got my US Masters Level 2 Coaching Certification and had the pleasure of learning from two of the top Masters coaches around. The day following the certification class, I had the opportunity to help coach their Stroke Clinic. In this clinic, the coaches took swimmers through a drill progression. Looking at the notes, I was a bit skeptical, but in seeing the improvement in swimmers new and skilled, I’m now going to be putting the swimmers in my tri club through a similar progression at an upcoming practice.
The thing about swimming is that there is no brute forcing your way through it. Swimming is technique driven and SUBTLE. You have to play around with body position and find your aqua-zen to really learn. As an engineer, this was tough for me. I’m very black-and-white, tell me how to do it and I’ll get it done. Swimming is all about the grey and feeling (literally) your way through it. A little tweak here, a head adjustment there, does it feel better? Are you more efficient? Are you faster? And if you get some yes answers to those questions, you have to practice those tweaks and adjustments often to reinforce those new good skills.
As a swimmer I prefer to do drills as part of my warm-up for EVERY workout. Drills are a great way to practice body position awareness, focus on a specific skill that needs a bit of attention, and become a better swimmer. And the off-season is a PERFECT time to really practice and reinforce those good techniques. Next time you’re in the pool, try some of these drills out and see if you notice any changes or efficiencies in your stroke:
(do yourself a favor and wear fins, it will really help you out)
Front Glide: face down, one arm stretched up past your head, one arm stretched down past your hip; breathe on your down arm side. Do 25 on your left, 25 on your right (no strokes). Practice keeping your core tight, body long, chin slightly tucked. When breathing, you should have one goggle remain in the water (ie don’t bring both of your eyes above the water surface). This helps with body alignment and balance.
Front Glide: face down, one arm stretched up past your head, one arm stretched down past your hip; breathe on your “up” (stretched over your head) arm side. Do 25 on your left, 25 on your right (no strokes). Pay attention to head position – does it feel different from Drill 1?
Paddle Balance Drill: Take one paddle, and place it on top of your head. Now put your face down in the water and start swimming. The force of the water, when your head and body are properly aligned, will keep the paddle placed in the center of you head. Having a hard time keeping the paddle in place? Tighten your core, lengthen your body, keep your chin slightly tucked. Expert level: bilateral breathing while keeping the paddle in place. Do this for a 50 or a 100 to really gain an understanding of how keeping your body position as long as possible helps you to move through the water.
Catch-up drill: keep one arm extended past your head and take a stroke with your other arm. Your stroke arm will “catch” your extended arm as you enter your hand into the water just prior to your pull. Swap arms after every “catch”. Important: do not actually touch hands when doing this drill, as that promotes cross-over. Instead, keep your arms extended up and out, just slightly outside of your shoulders. Practice this for a 50 to gain good timing for stroke initiation.
Paddle-Fist Drill: Grab a paddle along the flat surface in each hand and swim. Notice how your arm entry and catch seem to be maximized? Do a 50 of that then ditch the paddles and make a fist with each hand. Focus on a really fast entry (like you’re punching through the water) and extending that fist out with a nice long reach (it helps if you sing the Mighty Mouse theme song). Finish each stroke with a strong catch and high elbow. Practice this for a 50.
And now you’re set up for a good swim! As you make your way through the main set, pick a drill from the above list and use that as a reference point. Work on your catch, body position, arm entry – just one focus for the set. With each workout, change that focus to a different drill principle. Over time, these drill techniques will become practice and you’ll become a better swimmer.
One of the biggest issues I see today with Triathlon Swimming is one of intensity. It’s no secret that if you want to go faster in the swim portion of a triathlon, it’s going to take some focused higher-intensity swimming while training. As a Masters Swim Coach for the last 7 years, I find that when it comes to intensity, everyone has a different definition of “moderate” or “fast” and this leads folks to swimming every set at the same relative pace. I also see many folks who come to the wall after what was supposed to be a “fast” set who did indeed give it their everything (i.e. they’re definitely breathing hard) only to see their times only a small fraction faster than what their “moderate” set was. Furthermore, I’ve seen athletes who are fatigued, sick, or otherwise not recovered from previous days’ workouts who perform sets that are significantly slower than what is normal for them (which is completely understandable) but are disappointed that their times do not match their effort levels.
Issues like these led me to develop The Swim Pace Calculator (http://www.swimpacecalculator.com). This revolutionary tool serves to remove some of the ambiguity from swim pacing terminology (terms like “fast”, “moderate”, “threshold”, etc.) and assigns specific times to specific intensities so that swimmers can understand, not only race-day paces, but also to understand their growth as a swimmer and their fatigue levels.
The Swim Pace Calculator assigns a specific pacing time to the common swim terminology given in swim workouts by using an athlete’s test data to develop a matrix of times for various distances. The test is performed over two separate swim days with recovery in between and includes swimming at max effort, a 50, 100, 200, 400, and 800 (I’ll explain later about why this is the testing protocol). As you can imagine, these times are the “fast” times for each of the distances listed, but what is the split time for a “fast” 150, or even a “fast” 500? This calculator extrapolates all of those times for you in all of the common distance you’ll see in swim set. Next, this calculator takes a percentage of all of those max-times and assigns various zones. For example, if a max 100 is 1:25, then an “easy” 100 should be 1:40-ish. This calculator breaks the test data down into 5-zones.
Determining what type of swimmer you are:
The Swim Pace Calculator takes the test data from the 50, 100, 200, 400, and 800 and develops a regression curve. What does this regression curve tell you? By understanding how much your pace falls off for each doubling of distance, we can determine what type of athlete you are – a sprinter type athlete or an endurance type athlete. A sprinter athletic type has a relatively high regression rate (>10%) which means their pace will fall sharply as the distance increase (a regression rate of 10% means that an athletes’ pace will drop by 10% each time we double the distance), whereas an endurance athlete will have regression rates at or below 5%. For pure swimmers whose specialty is the 50m or 100m in swim meets, having a high regression rate does not hurt race performance. But put that same swimmer into a 750m sprint triathlon swim, and their endurance friends may finish minutes ahead.
The Swim Pace Calculator allows you to understand what type of athlete you are, and then apply specific training to get you where you want to be. Are you training for an Ironman but have a sprinter regression rate? Then you need more swim sets that focus on maintaining that speed later in the set, like performing sprint sets at the end of long workouts. Or, if you’re a swimmer that can already go forever, then it’s more beneficial for you to work on pure speed while maintaining that endurance athlete type. Mix in very high intensity sprint sets with relatively short rest intervals to increase overall speed.
Multi-Dimensional Performance Prediction:
The Swim Pace Calculator ultimately is used to understand the relationship between intensity (perceived effort) and the expected time for that intensity level for a given distance. Since we cannot monitor HR or other physiological markers during the swim portion of a triathlon, all we have is our perceived effort level. Learning what various intensities feel like in training will allow us to race at a specific intensity and have a reasonable idea of what time that will yield us.
The Swim Pace Calculator takes the regression curve from the test data and extrapolates out to the half-Ironman and Ironman swim distances for the various zones. Are you planning on going easy in your half-Ironman swim? If so then you can see what Zone 2 will mean with respect to time. Are you planning to crush that Ironman swim? Then you’ll be able to predict what the clock will say when you pop out of the water.
We can also easily identify when athletes are fatigued or otherwise not feeling well. Say for example I assign a set to one of my athletes that includes 5×200 at Zone4 with a Rest Interval of 20-seconds. In the past, she was able to maintain the 3:15 split for each of those, but on this particular day she reports that she had to work exceptionally hard to maintain those times (or she’s not even able to maintain those times), I know that she’s either fatigued or she may even be starting to get sick. I’ll likely prescribe lighter workouts for the next few days and then reassess.
Last Saturday a gentleman came to swim the BAM Boulder Reservoir Swim. After exiting the water he got distracted talking to a friend and forgot to check out. He subsequently took off on his bike for a long training ride. This was an honest mistake; he simply forgot to check out.
Unfortunately this “mistake” turned into a major incident for BAM & the City of Boulder.
Upon finding out that one swimmer was unaccounted for the Reservoir personnel initiated an “Amber Alert” and proceeded with the search & rescue protocol.
Within minutes there were at least 20 rescue vehicles near the edge of the water (fire trucks, ambulances, EMT, police cars, water rescue vehicles with search boats, a crew of rescue divers, a crew of lifeguards both doing a water search and many, many professional, medical and safety personnel). In addition many swimmers stayed behind and started searching for him on foot and on their bikes.
After more than one hour the gentleman in question was finally tracked down somewhere on 63rd Street and everyone was relieved that he was safe and sound.
For the past 9 Years BAM has been granted the privilege to host Open Water Swims at the Boulder Reservoir. As you can imagine open water swimming is a huge liability and we have been lucky to earn the trust and respect from the City to host our events independently. Year after year we work hard to improve upon and make these events as safe as possible. This being said an incident like yesterday could jeopardize our program and possibly even end it simply to the fact that someone made an honest mistake
BAM will be implementing some changes to tighten up our safety procedures that include:
– There will be more information required of the swimmer on the BAM waiver so, please be thorough and have the patience to fill out the extra information.
– A returnable band will be issued to all swimmers. This wristband must be returned to the registration table at the end of the swim
– There will be a chute that all swimmers must enter after exiting the water that will lead up to the Registration Table. The swimmer will then check out and return their BAM bracelet. Then the swimmer can dress, talk to their friends or whatever.
We cannot re-iterate how important it is for everyone involved in these swims to follow the rules 100%. When we ask that you remember to check in and out, we mean it. Even if you are in a rush, even if you are cold, hungry, tired. Even if you swim every session and we know you by name and joke with you every day. Please take the time to check out and make sure we have recorded the information on the attendance sheet. Shouting your name as you walk by is not enough. The survival of our program is riding on your responsibility to do so. Please help us keep the BAM open water swims alive!
When is a mile not really a mile? When it’s measured in a pool.
Today’s question was inspired by an email I received from a guy named Paul Arvin. He is a life-long swimmer, having swum in high school, taught swimming in Malaysia, and done underwater photography for the World Wildlife Fund. He wondered why the 1650 yard freestyle is known as a “mile” when in fact it is 110 yards short of an actual mile (for those not familiar with feet and yards, a true mile is 1760 yards). It’s something I’ve always wondered, but have always just written off some strange misnomer that had something to do with the mathematical evil that is the Imperial system of weights and measures…
…I started looking through results of old Olympics, and discovered that only one Olympics ever was swum in yards, which were the 1904 Olympics in St. Louis. The 1904 games included a mile swim that was a true mile. Unfortunately, the 1904 Olympics were swum in an artifical lake, rather than a pool, and as such was no help.
But if open-water swimming has a true mile (they still do today), then why can’t pool swimming get any closer? A 1750 or 1800 yard swim would be much closer. A key clue comes in looking through historical swimming records, such as these pool records from the North Sydney Olympic Pool.
Swimming pools in the United States, Australia, and the UK were often built in 55 yard distances in the early and middle part of the 20th century. Similar to 440-yard tracks, 55 yard pools were used because races could be made in convenient, even proportions of a mile (880 yard half mile, 1760 yard mile, etc.). Looking through the records above, you’ll notice that there is both a record for the 1760 freestyle and the 1650 freestyle. That’s because, for a long time, the official mile distance in the United States was 1760 yards.
But then things changed.
The AAU (predecessors to USA-Swimming) relented and changed their long course meets from 55-yards to 50-meters in order to better prepare their swimmers for the Olympics. But the United States held firm with it’s short course pool at 25 yards, instead of the international meters. Large organizations training Olympians could afford the expense of converting their pools to 50 meters (which is about a foot short of a 55 yard pool) or building new ones, but to the tens of thousands of neighborhood and high school pools, this cost would’ve been prohibitive.
In international swimming, beginning with the 1908 Olympics (which were actually swum in a massive 100m pool built inside of a track oval), the 1500m freestyle was a logical standard distance event. At 1.5 kilometers, it made sense to the other 95% of the world that uses the metric system, and sporting fans were already familiar with the 1500m run that was a standard distance in the more familiar track & field discipline.
Once the United States switched to a system of 50-meter long course and 25-yard short course pools, they had to find a way to keep the two systems as similar as possible, so that when it’s athletes did travel to international competitions, they weren’t at too much of a disadvantage.
And this is where the 1650 freestyle came from. The closest emulation of a 1500m swim in a 25-yard pool is the 1650 freestyle (to be precise, 1500m=1640 yards, 1 foot, and 3.12 inches, give or take), so the AAU likely decided to replace the true old-fashioned mile with a newer, more worldly distance. People were so used to calling this distance the “mile” that the name lived on. So there you have it. It was that crazy Imperial system after all.