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Non-competitive swimming Dad vs jr. National Olympic coach…..

August 5, 2015

My son is not a butterflyer…its by far his worst swim stroke.  I told the coach who seems insistent on entering him in 50yd/m races he doesn’t enjoy swimming the fly. Nevertheless, every meet has a 50 fly.   I’ve watched over an entire year of swimming under a jr. national coach guidance my son’s butterfly swim times get slower!! i.e. 12 months after joining the team my son’s fly has not improved one iota. The coach’s attitude is reflected by what he  tells my son: he thinks he’ll become a great flyer. I 100% disagree.  I anticipate he’ll never swim an A time  in any butterfly event.  We’ll see who’s right. That is a pretty bold prediction for a non-competitive swimmer like myself vs a coach who coaches junior nationals.  We’ll see who is right.

I can swim the butterfly even though I never raced competitively.  Its a hard stroke to do right.  I have taken my son to the pool on off days to try to coach him myself to improve his fly.  I’ve basically given up.  It cannot be taught.  Either you have the motion down or you don’t.  Either you feel it or you don’t. So what is it that inhibits my sons fly development.

  1. mainly his kicks.  He has little ankle flexibility in the fly direction…plantarflexion.
  2. He doesn’t grasp the rhythm and undulation contribution from one pull to the next….hes kind of klutzy
  3. he doesn’t maintain momentum from one pull to the next…he is not stream lined.

The breast stroke….my son is a very good breast stroker, and he has awesome breaststroke kicks.  I can’t do the breast stroke if my life depended on it. So what makes him a great breaststroker….its another short axis stroke:

  1. mainly his kicks.  He has great ankle flexibility in the breast stroke kick direction…ankle eversion.
  2. He grasps the short axis rhythm and undulation contribution from one pull to the next….he looks smooth and coordinated.
  3. He uses the momentum and streamlined glide of one kick to get him through the pull to set up the next kick effectively.

OK, since one stroke is related to the other (fly evolved from breast), how can he grasp the rhythm and undulation of one but not the other. Good question, I suspect its all about the kick.  The fly kick should originate from the core and travel down to the ankles which should snap. My son’s fly kick originates more from his thighs.  I suspect that and his lack of plantarflexion is why he doesn’t get much power from his kicks and why he’ll never be more than an BB swimmer in back or free. The breast stroke is unique.  My son totally gets it…his ankles bend way out, grabbing a lot of surface area of water to thrust him forward.  But the breast stroke kick is totally unrelated to the fly, free, and the back stroke kicks. You might argue, ok, work on his ankle flexibility.  Fine…great solution.  Its got to come from him.  I can’t push him to do it.  improving your flexibility is like going ot the dentist. He isn’t motivated in doing so…..we’ll see if maturity changes this, but I suspect on his hours away from the pool he’d rather play guitar than stretch. Thus I rest my conclusion that my son will never be a flyer…..I’m ok with that.

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