Learning How to Learn applied to the learning process in swimming
Applied to the
learning process in swimming
Course description and keys to be successful
José L. Giráldez
“We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence, then is not an act, but a habit.”
Where we have to understand (what we are doing/practicing and why), learn the movements
involved in the act of swimming (crawl), and move water.
Upper body Including 4 different phases:
► Hand entry
► Pull through
► Rotation & Arm Recovery
Lower body: Kick Feet
Alignment & Position
Once we can perform technically the right chain of movements, we have to perform it faster.
This should be done in an efficient way. That means, maximizing the speed without
destroying the technique (Stroke rate & Stroke Length development).
What are we going to learn here?
How are we going to learn/train it? (I)
1.- The WET WAY
We will be working into the water feeling the smell of the chlorine and the taste of the salt.
The objective is to teach your body the way to perform the right movements at the right
speed (what we have been just training in the technical and physical phases).
Note that through these exercises, we are training our mind to deliver our body muscles the
right instructions to perform the desired movement at the selected speed. We will use:
• Fins & Flippers
• Pull Bouys
• Wetronome & Swimming watch
Not only in the swimming-pool, but also in
the special conditions of Open water:
• Managing anxiety
• Drafting the right way
• Swimming straight
• Turning around buoys
How are we going to learn/train it? (II)
2.- The DRY WAY
That is: the same that we have trained using the Wet Way, but… outside of the water … in
the gym (physically) and in our heads (through mental rehearse).
We will have the opportunity to rehearse/test our swimming technique, feelings, and
emotions... MENTALLY. Recall the desired information in any place at any time: While
travelling, relaxed on the couch, before going to sleep, …
It is scientifically demonstrated, that during the right mental rehearse of an action, the brain
send the exact same impulses to the muscles as if we were physically performing that
action. It is an incredible 24/7 training weapon.
How to be succesful in this course (I)
Test your evolution watching, analyzing and training with other fellows. It is a good way
to get feedback, learn from others, teach others, and gain self-confidence in your
training approach and method.
Take of video of you while swimming. You will get a valuable out of the box
perspective of your movements.
Space your repetition. Let your mind and your muscles to assimilate the training.
Include a DAY –OFF in your training. Allow the diffuse mode to do its work
By the way, have you heard about the concepts of TAPPERING?
OVERCOMPENSATION?. Be sure you understand the concept “DAY OFF” in training.
How to be succesful in this course (II)
Chunk your understanding in an inductive/deductive way of thinking. Try to understand
and explain the different chunks of movements. Then, put them together (connecting
the dots) and see the whole picture. Now, do it backwards, take the whole picture and
break it in small chunks. Does it make sense? It is like if you were trying to solve a
complex engineering problem.
Use the POMODORO technique. You must engrave the movements in your cortex. Be
“consciously active focused” on the task at hand.
If your life is imbalanced, your training will be also imbalanced and your learning
process will suffer. Close these open loops flying around your life before training (or use
your training to help you close them)
Do the technical part earlier in your training. It is when your mind is fresh. For more
advanced swimmers, could be also good to do the technical part at the end of the
session (so they will need to increase their concentration, and will train the recall under
the expected exhausting environment of a competition)
Practice each chunk isolated. Practice them randomly, mixing them, mixing levels, from
a to Z, from Z to A, at different speeds, … (think about the different orbital axis
movement of electrons)
How to be succesful in this course (III)
This is a PROCESS, so ATTITUDE is important. The more equipped you are to
accepting the process, the more successful you will be
Learn how to fail – learning how to fail isn’t fun…it’s vital (see: The elephant rope)
Be prepared for a set-back at first (remember, it is a process). Use it to build character,
learn to manage adversity
Think like a BUMBLE BEE race like a HORSE (see: appendix)
How to be succesful in this course (IV)
“The elephant rope”
As a man was passing the elephants, he suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these
huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no
cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at anytime, break away from their bonds but
for some reason, they did not.
He saw a trainer nearby and asked why these animals just stood there and made no
attempt to get away. “Well,” trainer said, “when they are very young and much smaller we
use the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow
up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still
hold them, so they never try to break free.”
The man was amazed. These animals could at any time break free from their bonds but
because they believed they couldn’t, they were stuck right where they were.
Like the elephants, how many of us go through life hanging onto a belief that we cannot do
something, simply because we failed at it once before?
Failure is part of learning; we should never give up the struggle in life.
“Think like a BUMBLEBEE, train like a HORSE” (I)
Think Like a Bumblebee
Bumblebees are huge, furry insects with tiny little wings that fly with incredible speed,
accuracy and agility.
For years, NASA scientists studied in fascination the bumblebee. How could something that
big and furry fly with such little wings?
They did several researches and determined that a bumblebee can’t fly. The physics behind
bumblebee state that they are too large and too heavy to fly. Their little wings simply cannot
carry the weight.
Here’s the interesting part: no one told bumblebee. The bumblebee goes on believing it can
fly and so it does. As the bumblebee has faith in itself, it is able to fly no matter what
NASA’s scientists have to say about it.
“The silly insects go right on believing that flight is normal for them despite what the best
minds in the scientific world know as fact.”
You, as a person (and an athlete), just like the bumblebee need to have unyielding faith and
belief in yourself. Don’t let anything or anyone limit what you can do and can achieve.
You can do it, if you just believe you can.
“The bumblebee thinks it can fly. Actually, the thought of anything else never even crosses
its tiny mind. It just keeps flying.”“We can learn a lot from the bumblebee. The single most
critical piece of this sporting puzzle is believing in yourself and your capacity to succeed.”
Train like a horse
Racehorses are just like any other athletes. They know they are athletes, and they know
they are different from the other horses. They train with heart-rate monitors. They do
intervals and lactate-threshold training. They eat a special diet designed to improve
performance. They have coaches, and they get nervous on race day.
The difference between racehorses and you is racehorses don’t second-guess their training
program or their abilities.
Racehorses go all out when asked to; they don’t save something for tomorrow. You’ll never
see a racehorse add unnecessary mileage as it's worried about its performance, neither
does it worry or fret after a poor performance.
Race horses don’t look at other horses and freak out because the other horses are doing
“On race day, race horses are nervous just as human athletes are; they know what is about
to happen, but they don’t magnify the tension by comparing themselves with the other
horse (“look at the legs on that stud!”). Instead they are very purposeful in their approach to
training and racing. There is but one reason for everyday existence – to get faster. If the
horse is physically strong and the trainer is smart, this happens.”
Racehorses just do exactly what is asked of them: nothing more, nothing less.
Racehorses have 100% commitment to being the best they can be. They have one purpose
in their lives: to get faster and stronger, to be better.
“Think like a BUMBLEBEE, train like a HORSE” (II)
The take-home message is to have complete belief in yourself.
Believing you are capable is the first and most important step in becoming a better athlete
and a better you.
Second, you should do things with purpose. If you are constantly second-guessing, you
undermine your accomplishments and will never reach the highest levels.
“[...] the first thing you must do is believe in yourself just as the bumblebee does. Without
this, all of the science in the world won’t do any good. You must also have a purposeful,
racehorse trust in your training.
Continuously second guessing and changing training direction after every race are a sure
way to fail.”
“Think like a BUMBLEBEE, train like a HORSE” (III)
Can we help you?
Some of the graphics come from public documents or web sites, and have been used with the sole intention of
delivering the messsage There are no commercial purposes behind this document
• This is the presentation of a Swimming Course
• You will be able to find a physical part, and a technical part.
• Moreover, you will find that part of the training will take part into the water (WET WAY)
and out of the water (DRY WAY)
• This last part (the dry way) is very close connected to what we have called (How to be
successful in this course). Here we teach the students how to understand, learn,
assimilate, interiorize, feel, and live (together) the art of swimming (being part of the
• We, as humans are not used to live, move, and enjoy the water. All the movements that
we have learnt are focused to be efficient out of the water (walk, crawl, run, …). We can
not apply the same principles and techniques to move into the water (in fact the
technique is totally the opposite). What we call “to move the water” is something that
should be learned (assimilated) as a child. As you can guess, this is a complicated
concept to teach and share.
• In this presentation, we have show the way we have added (incorporated) all the
different techniques and concepts that we have learned during the LHTL course. It will
be very easy for you to identify all them.
• Due to the intrinsic characteristics, of aquatic environment, SELF CONFIDENCE is an
essential part of it. The LHTL concepts and techniques are not only useful to share our
knowledge in this field, but to provide the students with the self confidence that they
need to enjoy being into the water and to advance in their personal lives.
• Remember that although here we are teaching how to swim, the deeper knowledge
(experience) that our students must experience is the opportunity to deal with theirs
“less positive side of their minds”: to recognize it, assimilate it, deal with it, and act in the
most efficient way (an invitation to develop their Emotional Intelligence?)
• One last thing: this is not a real Project. This is only an example (another way) of how
we could use the LHTL material to teach how to swim.