Swimming intel from Coach Dave

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Vaughn Ridley/Getty (more photos here!)

It's no secret that we three swimmers have been glued to the Olympics over the last two weeks. What an amazing showing by the Canadian women. Penny Olesiak is truly a marvel.

And making the experience even better, was Mark Tewksbury's reporting and insight, and having the amazing Canadian swim coach, Dave Ling, answer all of my swimming questions on Twitter throughout the races!

I met Dave once upon a time at the University of Toronto pool. He swam on the Varsity team and lifeguarded, and I tried to swim in the fast lane. Now he's new coach of the St. John's Legends Swim Club and former assistant coach at the Toronto Swim Club (where Olympian superhero, Penny Oleksiak trains! He chatted with CBC here!)

Here are the things I learned over the last few weeks:

On bilateral breathing during freestyle (because, as Rhya noted, in both the sprints and longer distances, the swimmers were breathing on one side): 
DL: As swimmers get older they typically choose to breathe to 1 side based on comfort.  Coaches try & teach breathing on both sides.

On strategy for pacing a long swim (like the 1500m):
DL: Depends on the coach & the swimmer...my kids will tell you that we try and descend 1/3s 500-500-500

On kicking + long distances (because, did you notice the lack of kicking during the 1500?) 
DL: Legs take up A LOT of oxygen so the legs will really come in the last 400m.

On relay takeovers (and the the other team members do NOT tell the 2nd swimmer when to go, ahem, Park Lawn Piranhas!):
DL: As long as the entering swimmer has contact with the block when the swimmer in the water touches then all is legal.

On butterfly technique (I was always told that your knees had to stay together, turns out NOT SO!):
DL: (You made it up) … or otherwise a rule much older then your years.  Sounds like bad teaching back in your swimming lessons years.

Dave also inspired me to watch the 10km open water marathon swim and I couldn't believe how compelling it was! A pack of white water for nearly 2 full hours. And it turns out it's a crazy mind-game filled/physical race under the water (more here – I had no idea!) The photo finish was bananas! 

Thanks, Dave!

Additional Olympic+swimming reading: 

Why Simone Manuel's gold-medal swim in Rio was so historic by Andray Domise. This is a vital, important read. 

On potential currents in the Rio pool. 

On why there are so many ties in swimming (hello three-split silver!)

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