Hopefully you were able to watch some or all of the 2016 Olympic Games' swimming competition in Rio. As an American, I was thrilled with our nation's performances on both the men's and women's sides and was taken aback by how some of the younger stars stepped up in a big way and gave us one of our most successful in-pool Olympics.
Over the next couple of weeks I'll be pointing out things I learned from the performances in Rio, both in and out of the pool. There are many, many things we can apply to our Masters swimming from just watching the 'pros'.
Here's my first 'Olympic Masters Application' - the 200 IM gold standard
Earning his 4th consecutive Olympic gold in Rio in the men's 200m IM event, it's fair to say that American Michel Phelps owns the race and performs the four lengths better than anyone. From start to finish, Phelps has the race under control and, in Rio, swam it exactly how he wanted to, save for not cracking teammate Ryan Lochte's 1:54.00 WR from 2011.
As thrilling as it is to watch the race from above the water, as swimmers we can learn so much from watching a race via underwater camera footage. Check out the entire 200 IM via underwater camera, courtesy of NBC Olympics.
Things to look for in Phelps' masterful racing that you can apply to your own swimming:
- Long extension out front in butterfly, with two, equally massive kicks.
- Head is LOW during butterfly breath.
- MP's underwaters help him gain even more of a lead on his competitors, especially when entering the final free length. As a Masters swimmer, you don't have to kick 7 or 8 times off of a wall to get a benefit. But, you MUST work on underwater kicking during every practice.
- Backstroke rotation - you can really see how much MP's body rotates in backstroke when watching it underwater. Sometimes we tend to swim flat in both this and freestyle, but the rotation is what helps drive our torque power and gives us leverage against which we can pull with the opposite arm. Very important.
- Check out his flexible ankles during kicking. Yes, he has huge feet that the rest of us probably don't come near to having, but that doesn't mean we can't make the most of what we do have. Keep your ankles loose so they can 'flick' during the kicking motion. Legs should not be stiff, but loose, so they can carry the reverberation initiated from your hip.
- Body position - no matter which stroke the elites swim, most of them maintain a high body position throughout. Meaning, if you were looking from above, the swimmer's bum would be skimming the surface. We want to imagine our bums being dry - that's the goal. High hips with the feeling of swimming downhill.
Have an awesome week!