One of the best ideas I had when I began my swim training and improving my freestyle, was recording video of my swims during my pool sessions. This was an indispensable training tool, since it allowed me to see from a third person view what I was doing, it is the fastest way to improve your swimming. Today there are even big name swim coaches that do on-line coaching and use these videos as part of their coaching.
In swimming because its so critical on the technical part of the stroke its hard to “See” what your doing when your just moving through the water, since so much of it happens outside your field of view. You may not really see what your body is doing, where your arms are , how your head is turning, your stroke posture is etc. This is where the video can help.
Most people have a general idea on where they can improve , but seeing yourself makes it much easier to visualize your improvements, next time your in the pool.
easy way to record video
The easiest way today is simply to hand your smartphone to a trusted person in the pool and have them walk along the Pool deck besides your lane and video record one of your sets. (Note: some pool facilities frown upon video recording, because of privacy concerns of their members, so do check if in doubt).
Above the water recording:
From above the water, you can see :
- your tempo,hand entry (Are you crossing the dreaded center line, causing fishtailing down the lane?),
- body rotation,
- if your pulling “bubbles” ,
- how well your breathing, is your head coming out of the water., if so is it too much etc.
- Your kick, how frequent and how strong and near the surface it is..
- Your Flip turns if you do those how coordinated they appear.
Then go back and take stock of what you did and look for areas to improve. If you have a coach or knowledgeable friend share the video with them and ask for their input.
After a few more sessions in the pool refining your technique, again record your session and see if you notice any improvements.
A better way – Below the water using a submerged selfie-stick
One of the draw backs with just using a smartphone camera and someone walking besides you on the pool deck, is that you don’t get any video of your arm stroke under the water, where it counts. For this you need to either put your smartphone in a waterproof case (you can find many cheap one on Amazon ~$11), or use a waterproof action camera like a GoPro. This is where the proverbial telescoping selfie- stick can help.
Go pick yourself a simple telescoping selfie stick on Amazon (get one with a cell-phone holder) or Tripod (Goro mount), then attach your recording device (smartphone in a waterproof case of course, waterproof action camera), and have someone on the pool deck walk next you with the selfie-stick submerged in the water.
Now (assuming the water is relatively clear) you should be able to see your under water arm catch and pull. If possible have the person line the camera directly in front of you , behind you , above you etc. Take various angles underneath and above the water to maximize your coverage. A selfie-stick makes this real easy.
Underwater views should allow you to see:
- Arm pull
- Sinking legs
- Arm, wrist and hand entry
- sculling directions
- body roll
The fancy sophisticated way…
If you’re really intent on improving your swimming performance and are looking for one of the most sophisticated technological ways to have your swim stroke analyzed consider swimming bio-mechanics analysis. There are coaches, camps and clinics out there that will for a fee film, record sensor data and then analyse your stroke. I actually went to one of these in my case it was with Swim Technology Research .
Basically this is Olympic style analysis where the video of your stroke underwater is married up against force sensors that are placed on your hand. So as you move through your stroke you can see how effective your catch and pull are. At the end of my session Dr. Rod Havriluk (Swim Technology swim coach and technical expert ) spent some time analyzing my stroke and commenting on areas where I can improve.
Swimming is all about technique.
At the end of the day swimming unlike running or cycling is very technique based, you need to spend time in the pool applying good form and improving your stroke , so use that smartphone in your pocket to help out.