2 minutes reading time (447 words)

Becoming a “Grand Master” Swimmer

Why does it take so long to master the sport of swimming? With the rare exception of those born with a feel for the water, most people take years to become a truly proficient swimmer. Experts say that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become a grandmaster in chess. My gut feel is that becoming a "grand master" swimmer is probably on par.

Why is swimming so hard to master? 

Swimming is a highly technical sport by necessity. It is the only sport where the medium in which you compete actively resists you. Air is 784 times less dense than water. Dirt is about 2.5 times more dense than water. That means we are only 2.5x away from swimming through dirt! No wonder it is hard. This explains why drag forces make such a huge difference in swimming and why good technique focuses on minimizing drag. Improvement requires learning and learning requires feedback, but getting feedback in the pool is challenging!

 We are only 2.5x away from swimming through dirt!

How can we speed up the learning curve?

Swimming is difficult to master because instant and accurate feedback is hard to get in the pool. It is hard to learn what works and what doesn't because in swimming, the feedback is so far removed from the action. If you make a change (e.g. keep high elbows during the catch or keep your hips higher – less drag!) you have to wait until the end of the repeat to find out if you actually went faster. Depending on the length of the swim, that feedback could come :30, 1:00, 5:00 or more later.

Additionally, feedback in swimming can be counter-intuitive. The way that drag forces work, when you go faster you experience more drag and thus feel more resistance (remember the dirt?). But if you swim with worse technique, such as a high head & low hips, you also feel more resistance. When you swim fast but with low resistance, it can actually feel slower even though the time says you went faster. Without instant and accurate feedback, it takes longer to learn the right feel for the water.

Instant and Accurate Feedback

Firebelly can help you improve your swimming by giving you that instant and accurate feedback. By hearing times each length you can tell right away if you are going faster and just how much keeping your elbow high helps. Hearing stroke count and stroke rate feedback gives you a measure of your efficiency. If you start to fall off your targets, with Firebelly you immediately hear the difference in the numbers so that you can adjust. 

Get feedback early and often with Firebelly and become a grand master swimmer in no time! 

Congrats USMS Nationals Swimmers!


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Thursday, 30 June 2022
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