Tips To Improve Your Breakout


Knowing how to properly breakout from the wall after a turn is a critical factor in how fast you swim. As you transition from kicking to swimming can make the difference betweening winning a race and coming up short. If you are looking to gain an edge in the water then check out these tips.

1) Workout your core

The breakout requires a great deal of power and strength, much of which you derive from your core. If you work on strengthening your core you will definitely notice the difference in speed as you breakout during your next race. Here are some suggestions for improving your core strength.

2) Improve your Thoracic mobility

The area between your neck and pelvis must have a high range of motion during the first two strokes of a breakout to propel your acceleration into the swim. The mobility is also important during the underwater segment because dolphin kicking uses a rolling potion in the abdomen to propel the body in a forward motion. Check out some of these workouts to improve your mobility.

3) Focus on Timing

If you do not have proper timing as you breakout of your turns then your speed and power are not going to be useful. It takes continuous practice to find the sweet spot in the turn between getting stuck too deep under water and breakout out too late while you already on the surface. Make sure that you practice at race speed so you are getting an accurate sense of what you want to do come race day. It may be helpful to begin practicing the breakout technique at a slower speed and slowly increasing each time to get a better sense of what you want to do.


Love Returning to Cavaliers

Lucky for Kevin Love, the pain in his surgically-repaired left shoulder has finally become manageable.  Now, however, the Cleveland forward now has to sit on the bleachers while the NBA Finals play themselves out.  Knocked from his first playoffs by injury during the opening round, Love spoke yesterday for the first time since undergoing an operation to repair the extensive damage caused after Kelly Olynyk of Boston yanked his arm from the socket.  So far, Love is happy with the progress of his recovery, and plans on being ready for the start of the next season.  And in Cleveland, of course.Todd Proa Kevin Love

Love has the choice to opt out of the one final year in his contract by the end of June, and either negotiate for a new deal with Cleveland or test the waters as a free agent.  As has been the case all season, Love has indicated that he has no intention of leaving Cleveland.  After losing 15 pounds during his recovery, Love has said that not being able to get on the floor with his teammates has been an emotionally difficult experience.  After six seasons playing in Minnesota, he finally made an appearance in the playoffs and appeared to be hitting his stride before Olynyk’s aggressive play put him out of commission in Game 4.  After this game, Love said he thought Olynyk had intentionally tried to hurt him, but says that he feels different now.

After Love was taken out of commission, the Cavaliers swept the Celtics and advanced without Love.  Cleveland went on to eliminate Chicago in six games, and then rolled over Atlanta in four to make the finals for the first time in 8 years.  Frustratingly for Love, he’s only served as a spectator for this, watching from the bench or on TV, an experience he’s called both difficult and humbling.  Love has been cleared to travel for the finals, and will be with his teammates for the first two games at Golden State.  After surgery, Love said it was a whole month before he got a good night’s sleep, and said that he’s been steadily increasing his exercise load during his recovery to get up his heart rate.

Lucky for Love, he’s been getting an outpouring of support from Cleveland fans, who have been giving him loud ovations whenever he’s been shown on the giant scoreboard during games.  So as not to expose his shoulder to any possible contact, he’s been relegated to the row behind the Cavaliers’ bench.  During the Cavaliers’ on-court celebration after sweeping the Hawks, however, one of Love’s teammates almost undid all of his rehab after good-naturedly hitting him on the shoulder.  But not foreseeing any additional brushes with injury, Love should be set to join his team in the upcoming season.

Great Drills For Open-Water Swimming

One fairly common group workout involves gathering with frieTodd Proa open waternds and then heading out into the open water for a swim.  When the weather’s nice, this can become a sort of weekly ceremony, where athletes get together out in the open water.  Most athletes will perform these sort of sessions without any structure, with the focus being simple aerobic development and socializing.  However, these athletes are missing out on a great opportunity to gain sport-specific skills for open-water swimming.  I recently came across an article that shares some simple drills for open-water swimming, as well as the skills needed to practice the next time you and a group of friends head out for the nearest ocean, lake, river or lane-line-less pool.

Surf Entry: Start on the beach and then run into the water.  Count the steps from the time your foot first touches the water until the water becomes too deep to hold your speed and you need to start swimming.  Repeat this until you establish a consistent number of steps that you can run before losing momentum.  Now you can attack the water with the intention of diving forward to start your swim after that specific number of steps.  This will help maximize your momentum and speed and then transfer it to your swim.  If your upcoming race features a beach entry, then this is a great drill to practice at that race’s location, so you can familiarize yourself with the start and give yourself an edge on your competitors.

Drafting: Either with a partner or a small group of three or four, form a line and follow the feet of the swimmer in front of you.  Try to hold their drafts as close as possible.  If you’re the leader, however, then take about 40 or 50 strokes before you pull off and allow the swimmer behind you to rotate to the front.  For fun, never swim in a straight line, forcing the drafters to pay attention.

Buoy Turns: Practice your turns at a buoy.  Start out solo, and then progress into small groups.  Experiment with different approaches to the buoy, always coming in for a wide turn or cutting the corner as tight as possible.  In addition, the angle of the corners can vary from race to race.  Check the course map of your upcoming race to know exactly what it is you should expect.  Make sure to practice both left and right turns, since we have dominant weak and turning sides of our bodies.

How to Be a Better Teammate

Todd Proa Swimming Team

The Oakland Grizzlies, one of the most famous college swim teams out there.

This is the season for championship swim meets, meaning that various swimming teams are now working to finish on top.  Of course, one of the easiest ways to do this is to compete as a cohesive team, with everybody participating as the best teammate that they could be.  I recently came across an article that shared some of the ways that you can be a great teammate, doing your part to help skyrocket your team to victory.

1. Trust: In many ways, a team transcends beyond just a group of people who swim together.  Instead, they’re like a brotherhood.  Your entire team has been through the exact same workouts and training, so put trust in your teammates and they’ll put their trust in you too.

2. Do the work: Pulling your weight in the team is essential; you need to put in just as much effort as your teammates to earn their trust and respect.  The best moments of team bonding come from test-set practices and tiresome training camps.

3. Listen to the coach: Even when you disagree with what the coach says, being a good teammate means showing respect for everybody on the team, including the coach.  Even if you don’t want to do something that the coach asks of you, it’s usually for the benefit of the team.

4. Be engaged: Ask your teammates how they’re doing, listen to what they have to say and interact with them.  If you and your team genuinely care about each other, the overall experience will be better for everybody.

5. Know each others’ strengths and weaknesses: To maximize your swimming experience, you need to utilize each other as effectively as possible.  There are limited coaches on deck during training, but there’s also a whole swim team right next to you who know a lot about swimming.  If one teammate has a good open turn, ask them to look at yours and figure out together what you can do to improve yourself.

6. Stay positive: As Monty Python once so famously said, always look on the bright side of life.  You don’t have to be unflappable happiness and optimism, but being negative will do nothing but bring your teammates down with you.  Having a good attitude is much easier when you pretend to have a good attitude in front of your teammates.

7. Don’t blame yourself: If your team ends up losing a big meet or championship and you didn’t perform your best, then don’t blame yourself.  As a matter of fact, it’s a bit self-centered and greedy to think that you single-handedly lost a competition for your entire team.  There’s no “I” in “team”, and every team both wins and loses together.

Exercises to Boost Your Swimming Ability

When you’ve devoted a solid amount of your life to swimming, it is not uncommon to hit a plateau in your aquatic development. At this point, even experienced swimmers may begin to wonder how to take their game to the next level. Or, you could just be crunched for time and worried about how to workout and increase your physical fitness in a most efficient manner. Well never fear, because USA strength and conditioning specialist Mike Mejia has a couple pointers on some awesome exercises you can do outside of the water.

Phelps swimming

Anyone– even Michael Phelps!– can do exercises to improve swimming.

The following exercise below are listed on the official USA Swimming tips and training blog, and Mejia reminds us that they are best done when completed in a circuit-type fashion. This is opposed to a normal gym routine, where you do a certain number of reps per set, rest, complete another set, then go onto another exercise. In a circuit routine, you do each prescribed exercise in quick succession, with no rest in between. Then, you take a short break before doing another set of each exercise again! The result is a high intensity-low time effort to really get your body into the groove of things. So without further ado the exercises USA recommends are…



After a 30-60 second rest, repeat these exercises no more than two more times.


Katie Ledecky Breaks Records

Earlier today, Olympian Katie Ledecky won two events and set two meet records on the first night of the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships.  The 17 year-old girl opened the night with a win in the women’s 200m freestyle when she turned in with a time of 1:55.74.  Later in the session, she returned to the pool to take the 800m free in 8:11.35.  This was Ledecky’s first big international double, and she wanted to see how she could handle it.  According to Ledecky, she couldn’t be happier with how she did.  She wasn’t sure if she’d do well in the 800, but she was proven wrong, and ended up doing great.

Katie Ledecky

Katie Ledecky, shown with one of her shiny new gold medals.

Ledecky’s swims made up two of the 10 medals won by the US on Thursday.  Other people winning gold for the US included Cammile Adams in the Women’s 200m butterfly (2:06.61) and Connor Jaeger in the men’s 1500m freestyle (14:51.79).  Overall, the US won four gold, one silver and five bronze medals.  Other winners for the US team included Matt Grevers with a silver in the men’s 100m backstroke, Missy Franklin with a bronze in the women’s 100m backstroke (1:00.60), Ryan Murphy with a bronze in the men’s 100m backstroke (53.27), Tyler Clary with a bronze in the men’s 200m butterfly (1:55.42), Katie McLaughlin with a bronze in the women’s 200m butterfly (2:07.08) and Shannon Vreeland with a bronze in the women’s 200m free (1:57.38).

Looking at Ledecky’s races, she led the field at each of the turns in the women’s 200m freestyle.  This allowed her to increase her distance over the rest of the swimmers with each length of the pool.  Ultimately, she won by a body-length over Australian runner-up Bronte Barratt, who touched in at 1:57.22.  Vreeland herself finished just 16-hundredths behind Barratt.  Ledecky claims to be looking forward to the rest of the meet; her wins so far have been able to build her confidence, and she’s excited to see how she does going forward.  Ledecky owned the 800m free, leading from start to finish, and for most of the race she was ahead of her own world record pace.  She ultimately missed it by 35-hundredths of a second, but beat the former meet record of 8:16.22, which the legendary Janet Evans set back in 1989.  Following behind Ledecky was Lauren Boyle of New Zealand in 8:18.87, followed by Brittany MacLean of Canada in 8:20.02.

Getting close to the world records is pretty great, and Ledecky thinks that she’ll be able to improve on what she’s done so far this year.  Adams came from behind in the final 50 meters of the women’s 200m butterfly to win in the last stroke, edging Japan’s Natsumi Hoshi by seven-hundredths.  McLaughlin, who is competing for her first time in a major international competition, finished about six-tenths of a second behind to earn the bronze.  Also emerging victorious out of a close race was Jaeger, after beating out Canadian Ryan Cochrane for the win the men’s 1500m free.  Jaeger’s victory margin was 18-hundredths of a second over Cochrane, who touched in at 14:51.97.  Right behind him was Horton Mack of Australia, who touched at 14:52.78.

Other Americans who swam in the finals include Conor Dwyer, who finished fourth in the men’s 200m free in 1:46.46, Ryan Lochte, who finished fifth in the men’s 200m free in 1:46.75 and Elizabeth Pelton, who finished seventh in the women’s 100m back in 1:01.37.  The women’s 800m free and men’s 1500m free were both timed finals.  In the 800m free, Becca Mann finished fourth in 8:22.45, Cierra Runge was fifth in 8:25.17, Haley Anderson was seventh in 8:30.87 and Leah Smith placed ninth in 8:32.38.  In the men’s 1500, Michael McBroom placed fifth with 14:57.15, Jordan Wilimovsky was seventh in 15:01.43, Sean Ryan was eighth with 15:03.82 while Andrew Gemmel was ninth in 15:11.92.  Tonight, Americans swimming in the “B” finals included Matt McLean in the men’s 200m free (9th, 1:47.16), Missy Franklin in the women’s 200m free (9th, 1:56.04), Kathleen Baker in the women’s 100m back (9th, 1:00.35), Maya DiRado in the women’s 200m fly (9th, 2:07.42), David Plummer in the men’s 100m back (9th, 53.19) and Caitlin Leverenz in the women’s 200m fly (12th, 2:11.64).

The Life of a Retired Athlete

Being a teacher is pretty great, no doubt.  If you do a good job, you can get things like tenure, so that your career will always be ensured.  Of course, that’s not a privilege that any athletes get.  As they get older, they can’t perform like they used to, and get replaced by younger athletes.  For those who have yet to retire, major game events (like the Commonwealth Games currently going on in Scotland) are a pivotal moment for athletes.  Depending on how they perform, some of them will become household names, while others will fade into obscurity.  Regardless, however, they will have made the same sacrifices and been through the same highs and lows that come with such competition.  Lucrative sponsorship deals and work as sports commentators are only for a select few, so what becomes of the rest of them?

Dame Kelly Holmes

The famed Dame Kelly Holmes.

At the current moment, there are thousands of athletes competing in Glasgow, and hundreds of medals will be given out.  However, medals don’t always ensure fame and fortune.  In fact, the exact opposite awaits many.  Athletes put everything into their sport, focusing on nothing else and often sacrificing relationships, education and work.  However, when it’s time to retire, all of that focus and structure has no outlet for the first time.  It’s a terrifying thing to think about.  And if funding gets cut, athletes face financial difficulty, and finding other work can be a challenge for somebody seeking employment outside of the athletic world.  Athletes, however, have a unique set of skills, and success after their career is just about using those effectively.

British Olympic swimmer Adam Whitehead currently works for a UK charity, the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust.  This organization supports athletes in their transition from post-sport lives through training and coaching, and the athletes are deployed as mentors to disadvantaged young people throughout the UK.  Those skills necessary for competing at top level: focus, determination, confidence and resilience, are those that many young people lack, and so they’ve ended up unemployed, with no qualifications and little hope of finding work in a crowded market during this global recession.  Through the charity’s programs, young people are taken through their paces with team building and confidence-boosting activities.  They look into their health and well-being, prepare for interviews, write up resumes and gain work experience.  The mentor role of the athletes is to inspire young people to work hard and believe in themselves.  So far, the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust has over 240 athletes on their books, through whom they have touched the lives of over 170,000 youngsters.

Scotland Brings Home Gold

Being a host nation for a global sporting event puts a lot of pressure.  As we saw in Brazil at the World Cup back in July, that pressure can deflate in a horrible way if the country loses.  At the Commonwealth Games out in Glasgow, there have already been certain falls from grace, and various people who proved disappointing.  Yet it’s not going too bad for Scotland, as they have so far scored a decent amount of medals.  The moment earlier this week, when Ross Murdoch realized that he’d won gold in the 200m breaststroke finals, will probably be one of the more lasting memories of the game for Scottish fans.  In addition, he sliced another five seconds off his personal best.  The shock on his face when he realized this was obvious, as he became a Scottish hero overnight.

daniel wallace

Daniel Wallace, shown here, currently swims for Florida.

Hannah Miley also seems unstoppable, beating Aimee Wilmott of England to claim gold at the 400m individual medley.  She couldn’t even feel her legs for the end of it, as she was over two seconds ahead of her counterparts.  Daniel Wallace’s gold for Scotland even got political, as he shouted “This is for freedom” as he hit the wall to seal his 400m individual medley gold victory.  This was misconstrued as an act of support of Scottish independence, yet in reality it was a salute to William Wallace, the historical figure made famous by “Braveheart”.  Wallace’s career as a swimmer nearly came in jeopardy shortly before the Games for urinating on a police car, and he was nearly suspended from Team Scotland.  However, he still made it to represent his home country.  All eyes are currently on Scotland, with its athletes providing drama as well as medals.

The Benefits of Summer Swim Meets

The cold weather can be awful for a swimmer; often-times, being cooped up in an indoor pool can take all the fun out of swimming.  Therefore, most swimmers wait with bated breath for the summer, since that equals outdoor summer swim meets.  I recently came across an article talking about the top 7 reasons that outdoor swim meets are so great.  Soaking in the sun, competing to thousands of other swimmers, sitting on blankets outside, concession stands, sunscreen, card games, stories and drinking an awful lot of water.  Outdoor Swim Meet

When you’re outside waiting for a race, you sometimes spend hours waiting in-between races, and therefore have a lot of time to kill.  However, because everybody’s saving up their energy for the swim meets, you need to be able to do something that doesn’t take much energy, or much space.  Therefore, card games become very popular.  In the Midwest, people play hours of Euchre (according to the author, the best swim meet card game of them all).  You’re not a swimmer, according to the author of this article, unless you spend every Saturday morning in July playing cards with your teammates.  Another great way to kill time between events is escaping to the corner of the warm-down pool to perfect the art of underwater bubble rings.  In addition, with everybody spending time with each other, there are a lot of chances to get to know your teammates; telling jokes, listening to crazy stories and just having a lot of fun.

While heavy thunderstorms don’t really lend themselves to swimming, swimming in the rain can really be an awful lot of fun.  It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but it really is true.  It’s hard to explain, but whether you’re swimming for a meet or just playing around in the pool, nothing beats swimming in the rain.  Of course, it isn’t always that great, as sometimes it gets too rainy to perform, or lightning becomes a problem.

A lot of people aren’t really into going to the beach; the sand is hot and gets everywhere, not to mention that the water can get really dirty.  But when you go swimming in an outdoor pool, you don’t have to worry about that.  You can just sit out by the pool with your friends and teammates; outdoor swim meets give you an excuse to sit and relax outside while also having something to concentrate on.  Plus, it allows you to build that swimmer tan!

Summer is long course season, where you can compete the same distances as Olympians.  It gives you the chance to plot out your times and think to yourself, “gee, I only have 36 more seconds to drop, and I can make it to the Olympics!”.  Most of the long course pools are outside, meaning that you only get to swim in them when the weather’s nice.  Long course is like swimming in a lake; there are fewer turns, which means more swimming.  They might be a bit more difficult, creating more lactic acid and pain, but it also is a great opportunity to compare yourself to the rest of the world.

Rick Schavone to Retire

Just yesterday, Stanford diving coach Dr. Rick Schavone announced his retirement after 36 seasons as Stanford’s head diving coach.  One of the premier diving instructors in the nation, Schavone is the architect of the Cardinal diving program, while taking the team to unprecedented heights during his time on The Farm.  According to Schavone, he knew that his time was coming anyway; he’s in his mid-sixties, so it’s high time to retire.  He wished to thank Stanford divers for a wonderful and rewarding journey, and hoped that he had added something to their lives.

Rick Schavone

Rick Schavone, shown here, has been an institution at Stanford University for nearly 40 years now.

Since first starting in the 1970s, Schavone has molded Stanford into one of the top all-around diving programs in the nation.  A four-time NCAA Diving Coach of the Year (1992, 1993, 2007 and 2013), Schavone is also nine-time recipient of the Pac-12 Diving Coach of the Year award (1995 – men, 1995 – women, 1997 – women, 1999 – women, 2000 – women, 2007 – women, 2008 – women, 2013 – men, 2014 – men).  Schavone served on Team USA’s Olympic coaching staff during the 2012 Olympics after two of his divers earned their first Olympic nods.  Kristian Ipsen won the 3-meter synchro, and Cassidy Krug won the individual 3-meter event at the US Olympic Trials.  Krug was seventh off the 3-meter springboard at the 2012 Olympics.

Ipsen then went on to win the bronze medal in his respective event at the 2012 Olympics with his partner, Troy Dumais.  The duo’s medal, along with David Boudia and his partner Nicholas McCrory’s bronze in the synchronized 10-meter platform were the first Olympic medals of any kind for the United States in diving since 2000.  Schavone was then tabbed to coach Team USA and Ipsen at the 2013 FINA World Championships.  In many ways, Rick is an icon in the aquatics world; he led an unprecedented four Stanford divers to the 2013 NCAA Championships, as Ipsen was named the 2013 NCAA Diver of the Year after winning the springboard events and took second in the platform.  The Cardinal diving corps then named Rick Schavone the NCAA Diving Coach of the Year.  He also earned the 2013 Pac-12 Men’s Diving Coach of the Year award as Ipson was named Men’s Diver of the Year.  Schavone is one of the few people to be named the Pac-12 and NCAA diving coach of the year in the same season twice, having also earned it in 2007.

Schavone has coached men and women divers to 18 team national championships, 50 conference team championships, 40 individual Pac-12 titles and 92 All-America honors.  He has coached at least one All-American diver in 30 of the past 32 seasons.  Schavone has coached NCAA champions in 2013, 2012, 2008, 2007, 2001, 1996, 1995, 1993 and 1992.  In addition to his work at Stanford, Schavone served as the head coach for several US diving teams.  He has coached in top events such as the 2006 FINA World Cup in China, competitions in Rome and Vienna with the US National Team in 1999, the 1997 World University Games in Sicily and the 1990 Goodwill Games.  He’s also headed the US National Team at the 1993 World University Games, four World Age Championships (1984, 1987-89) and the 1985 European Youth Championships in Aachen, Germany.  He is one of the few coaches nationwide to coach at the last seven US Olympic trials.

In the summer of 1995, Schavone traveled with the US National Team to China and served as a coach at the World Cup in Atlanta.  He has also held many positions with USA Diving, and received the prestigious Whosam Award in 2003, given annually to a coach that adheres to the highest standards of physical and mental well-being.  One of the few Ph.D. holders in his profession, Schavone was named head diving coach on The Farm in 1977, and completed his Ph.D. at Stanford in 1978.  After leaving Stanford to become the head diving coach at Princeton for one season, he returned to his alma mater as a coach.  Later this summer, he will be inducted into the University of New Hampshire’s Hall of Fame.

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