4 Swimming Mistakes You Only See Using Underwater Video Analysis

Underwater Video Analysis is a super power for swim coaches. We can use it to show, rather than tell, our swimmers where their swim technique is out of alignment. But did you know that nearly 60% of swimmers HAVEN’T seen themselves on video? This is a problem for the swimming community as a whole. The reality is that standing on deck while swimmers are in the water can only get a swim coach so far. There are swimming mistakes that can ONLY be identified using underwater video analysis.

But first, in order to correctly identify the mistakes swimmer are making underwater, you have to capture the footage. Here’s a video that teaches you which underwater filming angles you should be aiming to take:

You can only catch crucial swimming mistakes using effective underwater filming angles.

Let’s Get Started With These Swimming Mistakes:

#1: Feet Separate During Dolphin Kick

My old coach used to tell my swim team to pretend we were pigeon-toed when Dolphin Kicking. That cue meant to keep your big toes touching and it helps swimmers keep their feet together! A swimmer has a much stronger kick when the legs are working together in tandem. Not to mention, it’s illegal for them to separate. When a swimmer’s feet separate during a Dolphin Kick, the stroke technically becomes a Freestyle Kick! To practice keeping the feet together, I encourage coaches to program Dolphin Kick On Your Side and Your Back into your drill routine.

This mistake is a fairly easy one to check during underwater video analysis. Use a camera pole and walk behind a swimmer – pointing the camera at their feet as they swim away from you. You will be able to see both their feet and if you don’t see them moving together, or spy a little “flutter” kick – that means they’re separating.

Coach Abbie Demonstrating Using a Camera Pole to Record a Swimmer’s Swimming Strokes!

#2: Uneven Freestyle Kick

This mistake occurs when one leg of a swimmer’s Freestyle Kick is going lower than the other. Basically, one leg has a larger width (or amplitude) of their kick, compared to the other. You want your swimmers to have an even-width kick, and that requires the legs to be covering the same distance up and down. An uneven Freestyle Kick leads to a Galloped Stroke (which you should NEVER swim with) and an inefficient course down the pool. After all, it is possible to swim more than 25 yards or meters – if swimmers swim a little bit side-to-side.

When using your underwater video analysis tools, set the video camera on the side of the pool and have a swimmer swim past it perpendicularly. You will be able to see their full body in the frame and quickly notice if they’re kicking to the same depth. If not, there’s an imbalance!

Video Example of Side-View Swimmer Swimming

Not Sure If You’re Making These Swimming Mistakes? We Have Underwater Video Analysis Packages To Help YOU!

An example of an Uneven Freestyle Kick caught by underwater video analysis! Let us analyze your stroke today.

#3: Exhaling Out Of The Nose

For this mistake, you’re going to have to check where the bubbles are coming from a swimmer while exhaling underwater. Most swimmers are taught to blow bubbles starting with their nose, but eventually – we want to transition them to blowing bubbles out of their mouths. The mouth allows swimmers better control of their air flow. Underwater video allows you to quickly see where you’re swimming is exhaling from and if they are a nose breather – we need to fix that!

#4: Timing Issues

This is a very broad mistake that translates to every single stroke. Incorrect timing is about an incorrect correction within the stroke. When a swimmer is stronger on one side of their body, or one half of their body – timing issues often occur. We have blog posts about common timing issues for all four strokes and flipturns below:

1.) Butterfly: Non-Existent Second-Kick. I’ve always said that when it comes to Butterfly, your kick is your metronome. The kick is quite literally what keeps the Butterfly moving and grooving. Have you ever seen a swimmer start to sink and swim really vertical at the end of a race? That’s because their second-kick isn’t doing its job and the entire beat of their stroke is off (or non-existent)!

2.) Backstroke: Pull Problems. Without a proper rotation, the pull in Backstroke is thrown off. Therefore, the timing of the entire stroke is out of alignment. It’s tricky because to most swimmers, the pull seems relatively simple, but in reality there’s a whole host of issues with the pull being too shallow, too deep or incomplete (not pushing their hand past their hips) – which are commonly rotation-based timing issues.

Swimmer Swimming Backstroke

3.) Breaststroke: Star-Fishing Instead of Hitting Your Bodyline. The Bodyline is the ideal position for a Breaststroker to get into at the end of their stroke, even for a brief second. This allows them to glide forward with minimal drag. When a swimmer “Starfishes,” their arms and legs are slightly too separated and it makes them slow down. Starfishing happens when a swimmer initiates their pull too quickly, and their legs haven’t finished kicking. It is fixed by correcting the timing.

4.) Freestyle: Not Connecting Your Stroke. When you walk or run, your arms and legs move together with timing that causes each next step to be more efficient. It’s the same in Freestyle. When our Freestyle is connected (between the arms and legs) and has correct timing, our distance per stroke gets longer and stroke becomes more efficient. Most swimmers are never taught what the proper cross-connection should be in Freestyle and therefore, can have horrible timing!

5.) Flipturns: Not Getting The Hands Into A Streamline! Although, we as swim coaches preach a tight streamline all day long, it can be hard for swimmers to figure out how to get their hands in a streamline – before they push off the wall after a Flipturn. Below is a video of Coach Abbie working 1:1 with a client on perfecting this exact timing component of Flipturns:

These are all common swimming mistakes that can be verified with underwater video footage. Sure, as coaches we come to have a sort of sixth sense about when a swimmer is making these mistakes, but it becomes a collaborative conversation between you and your athlete when you can show them exactly what is happening.

Until next time,

Abbie Fish and the Swim Like A. Fish Team

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.