Norton 1Kim NortonMs. CorbettAP LiteratureNovember 17, 2011 Senior Project Research Paper Swimming has been around since around the 1800’s. It has evolved from arudimentary doggy paddle to an elite art necessitating that only the most dedicatedindividuals partake in it. The sport requires hours of hard training in the pool and stillmore training outside the pool in the form of what foods swimmers are allowed to eat.Similar to most other activities, it is far more difficult than it looks. Swimmers train formonths for a race that lasts less than a minute. In the same manner, I plan to swim a onehundred yard freestyle race in fifty-six seconds. The one hundred yard freestyle race is one of the shortest races in relation todistance and time; the only race that is shorter than it is the fifty yard freestyle. Since it isone of the shorter races, it is popular among swimmers. While “it is considered a sprint, agood swimmer always keeps technique and strategy in mind” (Satterstrom).The ability tomultitask is a valuable skill in swimming. In all races, swimmers must mind severalaspects of the race in mind. They must concentrate not only on those competing in thesurrounding lanes, but also on time and the very element of swimming. Swimmers mustfocus on multiple things at once: their dive, their flip turns, their underwaters, and theirstroke technique. Every swimmer has a slightly different way of swimming. In fact,“there is no perfect stroke. Even elite-level swimmers have plenty of room to improvetheir swimming technique” (Sokolovas). This individualized way of swimming the same
Norton 2stroke can influence how fast they can swim. Training is the only way to change stroketechnique in a way that best suits the way the swimmer races. Different freestyle raceswill also have different freestyle strokes. At a glance, it would appear as if distance andsprinter freestylers are doing two strokes that are completely different. In reality, they aredoing the same stroke with just a few adjustments. Distance freestyle swimmers will have“a more defined catch, some stretching in their stroke to look almost like a catch-up drill”(Hays). Their arms will not have such a fast turnover. Distance swimmers will rely moreon their legs in these races than on their arms. On the other hand, sprinters will usually“have a shorter reach and a narrower pull, which helps them keep a higher turnover rate”(Hays). A narrower pull and shorter reach will give sprinters faster arms. This will propelthem through the water faster. Couple this with a fast kick and sprinters will speedthrough the water. Another thing to be mindful of is pacing. Pacing is how the swimmer is to distribute speed during the race. When racing,lactic acid builds up in the muscles which is what causes them to hurt. This process iscalled acidosis. Swimming “slower in the earlier stages of a race reduces the rate ofanaerobic metabolism so that lactic acid accumulates more slowly and acidosis does notoccur as quickly.” Basically, swimming slower at the start of the race will save yourmuscles from getting sore closer to the end of the race. This is known as swimming in anegative split because your split times will decrease. Swimming fast at the start of therace can get you a lead in a race, but that lead will diminish as acidosis sets in. Swimmerswho swim slower at the start of a race can compensate for their lack of speed in thebeginning by swimming faster in the second half of the race resulting in a faster time.Swimmers can practice finding the best way to distribute their speed while they train. The
Norton 3best time to find what works for the individual swimmer is during practice, not at a meet.Doing all of the aforementioned techniques will make a swimmer, but there is adifference between swimming quickly and swimming efficiently. Being fast in the waterdoes not always mean that the swimmer is being efficient. A swimmer that is efficient inthe water is “one who is slicing through the water with the smoothest stroke, creating theleast water resistance, and using the water to get the most forward momentum for theleast physical effort possible” (Fox). A burst of speed will only go so far in a race; it willbe over almost after it starts. An efficient race will carry the swimmer further with lesseffort and will deliver more constant, peak races. An efficient swimmer is also a fast one.However, fast swimming does not come solely from a fast pull or a fast kick or even fromperfect stroke technique. The foundation for swimming quickly starts in practice. If swimmers do not focuson swimming well in practice, then they cannot hope to swim well in meets. This meansthat swimmers have to focus on every set while they are swimming and must not getcaught up in the multiple things surrounding them. Swimmers who want to become thebest that they can be must practice hard. “To train like a champion, [swimmers] mustconcentrate like one. [Swimmers] must discipline [themselves] everyday in practice tostay focused on what’s important, on the quest that [they’re] on…and let everything elsego” (Goldberg). When swimming a set in practice, swimmers must put everything theyhave into it. If they hold back or do not take it seriously, it is only going to hurt themlater. Even when the set is challenging, stopping during the middle of it will only hinderthe swimmer’s development. Training through pain is what makes swimmers drop timeand evolve into swimming machines that do not stop for anything. They must learn to
Norton 4focus on what is happening at that moment, not on what has already passed or what iscoming. “Allowing [their] focus to leave [their] lane…before or during [their] races willshorten [their] stroke, fill [them] with self-doubt, and completely distract [their] focusfrom where it needs to be” (Goldberg). If swimmers allow their focus to leave the lane,they will lose their technique and slow down. If they start to concentrate on the swimmersin the lanes beside them, they have stopped swimming the race for themselves and willhave started racing for other people. While it is beneficial to pace off of other people andeven race them, it is a hindrance to concentrate on how they are swimming. In doing so,the swimmer will not be thinking on how they are swimming the race. “The ability tofocus- to be in the right place at the right time, mentally- is such a critical aspect ofswimming success” (Wiersma). Swimmers could be concentrating on their goals, on aparticular part of their stroke, or even on a precise part of their body while they arewarming up. Whatever they choose to concentrate on, swimmers must focus on thisaspect and that aspect alone. Shifting focus can have negative effects on races and,ultimately, final times. Most problems that swimmers encounter are mental: not beingmentally tough and letting their focus shift. There are some problems, however, that areoutside of the realm of mentality. Practicing as much as swimmers do can have a detrimental effect on their bodies.Sore muscles are commonplace in the swimming community, but pass with relative ease.Pulled muscles are harder to be rid of, but will also pass in time. Swimmer’s shoulder issomething seen often; however, it does not go as quickly as it comes. Swimmer’sshoulder is, in essence, shoulder pain. It can lead “to a spectrum of overuse injuries... themost common of which is rotator cuff tendonitis” (Young). Unlike most football, soccer,
Norton 5and most other sports, swimmers use their upper body and, most importantly, shouldersfor movement. This requires above average shoulder flexibility. Water offers moreresistance than air which is what causes swimmer’s shoulder. Swimmer’s can seek outphysical therapy to increase shoulder strength and tolerance to water. Nevertheless, theonly cure to swimmer’s shoulder is to stop swimming altogether. When watching Olympians swim in the Olympics, most people are blissfullyignorant into what goes into it. The training, both physical and mental, eats up themajority of the swimmer’s day. They must be disciplined in what they consume and howthey train. They must give their all in every aspect of their sport and never hold back.While racing, their ability to focus on multiple things instantaneously can be thedifference between first and last. Coach Nick Baker sums it all up when he says “An eliteswimmer posses the mental prowess to remain focused, the technical expertise tomaintain near perfect form, and the physical fitness to go the distance.”
Norton 6 Works CitedFox, Martha Capwell. Swimming. N.p.: n.p., 2003. Print.Goldberg, Alan, Dr. "Getting the Most Out of the Season." Splash Magazine Sept.-Oct. 2011: 16. NXTBook.com. Web. 13 Oct. 2011. <http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/usaswimming/splash_20110910/index.php#/ 16>.- - -. "Swimming at Championships." Splash Magazine July-Aug. 2011: 16. NXTBook.com. Web. 13 Oct. 2011. <http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ usaswimming/splash_20110708/index.php#/16>.Hays, Kelsey Savage. "Freestyle." Splash Magazine May-June 2011: 30. NXTBook.com. Web. 17 Oct. 2011. <http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ usaswimming/splash_20110506/index.php#/30>.Maglischo, Ernest W. Swimming Fastest. N.p.: n.p., 2003. Print.Satterstrom, Meghan Foley. "100m Freestyle." Splash Magazine Sept.-Oct. 2011: 10. NXTBook.com. Web. 13 Oct. 2011. <http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/ usaswimming/splash_20110910/index.php#/10>.Sokolovas, Gendijus. "Changes of Swimming Velocity during the Swim Cycle." Student Resource Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Oct. 2011. <http://web.ebscohost.com/src/ detail?vid=3&hid=122&sid=2411680f-f7c1-4f35-b1e7-59c122b3e665%40sessionmgr111&bda ta=JnNpdGU9c3JjLWxpdmU%3d#db=mih&AN=43153917>.Wiersma, Lenny, Dr. "Focus." Splash Magazine May-June 2011: 16. NXTBook.com. Web. 17 Oct. 2011. <http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/usaswimming/ splash_20110506/index.php#/16>.Young, Craig C. "Swimmers Shoulder." Medscape. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2011. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/93213-overview>.