Tips and Techniques

Improving Breast stroke kick... Flexibility 

Improving Kick ... ankle Flexibility !

A few good articles. First 2 on mental skills and the 3rd on Nutrition.

Building Mindset 

Self Talk by Caleb Dressel

Sugar A Worldwide Epidemic


Posted - April 25th, 2016

Building Greatness - Jon Gordon 

I wrote a book called The Carpenter but it's really about being a craftsman/craftswoman. What's the difference? A carpenter builds things. But a craftsman/craftswoman puts their heart and soul, spirit and passion into their work to create a masterpiece.

The truth is it's easier to just show up. It's easier to go through the motions at work, at home, in your job, or sport. It's easier to be mediocre.

But nobody remembers average. Going through the motions won't make an impact. Just showing up doesn't lead to greatness.

Michelangelo said, "If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery it wouldn't seem so wonderful at all."

It's hard to be great. It's difficult to create a masterpiece. But it's well worth the effort.

So if I just work hard I can become a craftsman many ask? Actually it requires more than effort. It's not just about hard work. It's about what drives you to work hard in the first place.

I was speaking to a group or professionals one time and I asked, "Who believes they can work harder than they already are?' Everyone raised their hand.

So what's the next question? Why aren't you?

We discussed it and decided that to work harder you have to care more. When you care more you will do more, create more and become more.

When Steve Jobs was a boy his father was building a fence in the backyard. Steve noticed that his father was using the finest wood and applying special care for the back of the fence just like the front. Steve asked his dad why he was doing this since no would see it and no one would know. Steve's dad looked at him and said, "You will know. I will know.'

Steve said it was a defining moment in his life and is the reason why he designed Apple products with such craftsmanship and care. Even the inside of the iPhone is designed beautifully because Steve was a craftsman. In fact Apple's Chief Designer Jonathan Ive famously said, "We believe that our customers can sense the care we have put into our product and design."

When you are a craftsman in a world of carpenters, people will clamor for your product or service and your craftsmanship.

And here's the great news. We can all be a craftsman or craftswoman. It doesn't happen right away. There's no such thing as an overnight success. You will have to try new things, fail, learn, improve and grow. You'll face countless challenges and tons of rejection that make you doubt yourself and cause you to want to quit. But if you see yourself as an artist dedicated to your craft with a desire to get better and you show up each day and put your heart and soul into your work you'll get there and the world will be better for it.

There's a word I love and it's called Meraki. It sounds like it's a Japanese word but it's actually a Greek word and it means to do something with love, creativity and soul; to leave a piece of yourself in your work; to leave something behind.


Being a craftsman/craftswoman is all about Meraki.

Put your love and soul into it.

Leave a piece of yourself in whatever it is you are building.

Leave something behind.

Create a masterpiece that reflects the essence of your love, energy, effort and craft.

-Jon Gordon 



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April 20, 2015


Climb That Mountain

I rode my mountain bike the other day with my three year old son in the child's seat. As we rode along the edge of the TPC golf course we noticed a boy running up and down these three little hills on the edge of the golf course. I knew what was coming next. My son said "Daddy, I want to run up the hill." So, I stopped the bike, helped him get out of the seat and said, "Go ahead and climb that hill."

He stood at the bottom looking at the hill. To him I could tell it seemed like a mountain. He started up the hill but then stopped. His momentum could not carry him up the hill. It was pretty steep and he looked nervous and scared. I wasn't sure if he would be able to climb it and neither was he. Then I said, "step back and then run up it," so he did fearlessly.

When he reached the top his face beamed with pride. He just stood there looking at the view from the top; his view and perspective changed by a few seconds and a climb up a little mountain.

From the look on his face, which I will never forget, I could tell his confidence was at an all time high. He proceeded to run up and down the three little hills like a human rollercoaster. When he reached the bottom of the third hill we walked back to the bike and went on our way.

I realized at that moment why we all need to climb a mountain every now and then. When we climb mountains, face challenges, hurdle obstacles and learn from difficult situations we are reminded that we have the strength and power to overcome life's challenges.

At first even a little mountain may seem like a big insurmountable mountain. But when you step back and climb it you realize, "I can do this."

The mountain, no matter how big it is, is no match for your faith and desire to climb it. Mountains are meant to be climbed. Wounds are meant to be healed and problems are meant to become learning experiences. They all serve a purpose. They make us stronger mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

While we often can't control what happens to us we can control how we see and climb the mountains in our life. We can look at mountains as being in the way or as "the way" to growth.

We have a choice. We can stand at the bottom and say, "it's too hard, it's too high and I can't do it" or we can dig down deep and find the very best in ourselves and fearlessly run up it.

-Jon Gordon (author of Energy Bus) 






Swim Videos !!! This is a good inspirational video - How Winners are Made.

Winners Are Made

Open Turn - We have been working on the "jab" arm coming off the wall and going deep for leverage to get yourself off the wall and deep on the push off - Have a look at the depth of the "jabbing" arm. 

Fly Turn Underwater 


Swim BC technical Observations from Short Course season - 

Good day, Coaches,

Last year, Vince and I received good feedback when we shared some of the things we noticed in watching some of the winter championship meets, so I thought I’d send out something similar again this year. (Same thing in .pdf format available here: )

Body position in general: 

Streamline position from hands-head-shoulders is generally very good.  We do a good job at teaching that.  From the waist down, though, there is a lot of “softness”, particularly once you get past 100m.

Similar to the Breastroke comment below, most kids rely on the force of the water to push their feet into a streamlined position. Particularly when coming off a wall, the amount of drag can be significantly reduced by being active and strong in pointing toes – like the way divers and gymnasts do.  This also helps to hold legs and hips in a tighter, more streamlined position.

Across the board, underwater kicking off walls is vastly improved from where it was even just a couple years ago; more swimmers are carrying more speed longer off walls – and this was observable in at least a few swimmers in each age group.  

I’d conjecture that from wherever a swimmer is right now, it probably takes the better part of a year to get one more metre of “faster than you can swim” underwater kicking out of a swimmer; so, while results are sometimes hard to see, keep working at it with your swimmers – it’s certainly getting better.


Across the board are fairly hit-and-miss.  You see one swimmer nail the breakout, but then on the next turn, they could easily be too early or too late.  Some are consistently too deep when they start swimming, but many more start swimming too late, or are breathing with their head too high on their first breath – in doing so, “popping” or almost “bobbing” to the surface instead of cutting up to the surface cleanly and maintaining speed.


The most common issue is still that swimmers’ heads are still looking forward to much.  This causes waist/hips to be artificially low, creating a big sway in the lower back, which causes unnecessary drag.

Freestyle breathing:  Most tend to be too late getting their face back down into the water after they breate.  Just as with fly, getting the face down should lead the recovering hand into the water.

Flip turn:  Once you get past 100m, almost everyone has their hips come too high out of the water as they flip


Kicks appear to have gotten narrower, which is good.  

While there aren’t nearly as many “starfish” strokes, there still aren’t many who are achieving that “zero” (fully streamlined) position at the end of the kick.  Again, this frame capture of Kitijima epitomizes the position we're striving to achieve.

Part of that is having eyes looking down at bottom of pool as kick finished; most still have eyes looking forward – like bad freestyle.

Very few fully finish the kick by actively and forcefully pointing their toes; if you ever go for a swim, try it out – surprising what a huge difference this makes to the power out of the finish of the kick. (Thanks to Scott Dickens at our Regional Camps for making this point – it’s a big thing he emphasizes.)

Lots of swimmers still recover their hands too deep, though.  Another thing that Scott has mentioned is that as the arms are extended forward on the recovery and the head is coming down, the swimmers need to feel as if they are squeezing their arms and at the same time lifting them upwards; this counteracts the downward trajectory and keeps the hands/arms closer to the surface.

Turn: Time between hands touching wall and feet pushing of wall is too long – typically related to not being aggressive enough in pulling knees into chest and pivoting torso


The height of hips across the faster 16-18yr. boys is pretty good; most other ages, plus the girls, though, still tend to swim a little too up/down. Lots of kids still have their ankles breaking the surface of the water as they prepare their second kick; kicking air like that does nothing for propulsion.


Body position still is poor almost across the board; very few kids swim with their chins up, chests up at the surface, and hips right near the surface

I think I saw maybe 8 kids who truly jumped off the wall on the backstroke start; most did something ranging between a “push& plow” to a “push and arch back” (but still dragging feet).

Relay starts:

I don’t know for a fact, but I think I could take a pretty good guess at which clubs regularly practice relay takeovers and which ones simply do the “hey, it’s the week before AAAs; let’s do some relay takeovers”.  Some clubs had a consistency to how their kids started, while most varied widely and seemed to “hope for the best” with some combination of an armswing and maybe a step into the jump.

Starts in general:

Particularly on the girls side, there is a large percentage of kids who push off the blocks and then let gravity do the work, instead of actively jumping.  Most do something with their arms and get them well-streamlined when the hit the water, but the arm action while jumping typically isn’t optimally coordinated (bringing arms/elbows into side and then shooting hands forward from that coiled arm position).




Swim Info | Training & Technique | Working Out | Freestyle

The Flutter Kick
One of Swimming's Mysteries

by Marty Hull

Legs are very powerful on land, able to move us around with quickness and grace. In the water, legs do not always work very well. This article explores how the flutter kick works, why some swimmers have very effective kicks and others do not, and how to make your kick better through specific stretching and strengthening exercises.

The amount of leg power swimmers can transfer to the water depends primarily on the forward range of motion of the foot. The farther your foot bends forward the more leg power you will be able to transfer to the water and the farther you will travel with each stroke. This is why learning how to develop a good kick is so important.

The flutter kicking movement involves alternately separating the legs and then drawing them back together. The moment the legs separate, the surface of the legs encounter drag from the water which slows the swimmer. When the legs are drawn back together, they produce a force which tends to push the swimmer forward. If the kick produces considerably more forward force than it causes drag, the kick will be propulsive.

Individual differences in foot range of motion determine how propulsive a kick is. A (poor) kick that produces little or no propulsion is of little use. A moderately propulsive (fair) kick will work well when sprinting but not as well on longer swims. A very propulsive (great) kick is worth using a lot. This swimmer will appear to flow almost effortlessly through the water when swimming.

Poor Kick: If your foot flexes to less than 90 degrees, it is necessary to bend at the knees to get the foot to an angle that will push you forward. Bending at the knees causes enough additional drag to cancel out the forward force produced by the kick. For the amount of effort kicking takes, this kick is not worth using.

Fair Kick: If your foot flexes to 90 degrees or slightly more, you will have a moderately propulsive kick. The knee must bend a little to make the kick work but it provides enough propulsion to be worthwhile using. For this swimmer, it is often necessary to keep the calf muscle contracted so the foot flexes forward far enough to produce maximum propulsion. This may result in cramping in the calf, but it lets you go faster. It works best for sprints and is less effective for longer swims.

Great Kick: If your foot flexes to significantly more than 90 degrees, very little knee bend is needed to kick. As the foot kicks against the water, the pressure from the water against the top of the foot keeps the foot flexed forward. The calf muscles need not be used. The blood flow which would have gone to the calf muscles is then free to be used in the upper body. This kick causes very little drag and generates excellent propulsion.

Foot range of motion can be increased through stretching. For each degree you gain past 90 degrees, the amount of forward force you produce with each

kicking movement increases and the effort required to kick decreases. In essence, you get more propulsion for less work. The swimmer with great plantar flexion may not only go faster, he/she may not even be working quite as hard. Life is not always fair.

            Ankle Stretching 

Swimmers have been stretching ankles for a long time. I used to stretch mine by bending them under a couch. World record holder Jeff Rouse uses his body weight (photo #1), rolling back on his feet to stretch. Classical ballet dancers have been using simple boards with straps attached for decades to stretch feet.

There are two areas where stretching is possible: the ankle joint and the joints down farther in the foot, the tarsal-metatarsal joints. These joints are the most difficult to stretch, a limit being reached by many after a fairly small improvement. Stretching the tarsal-meta-tarsal joints allows the bottom portion of the foot to move to a better position, further improving the kick.

Stretching Exercises

Ankle joint: Soak ankles and feet in hot water (108 to 118 degrees Fahrenheit) for several minutes. Adjust the strap on a board so that it fits snugly over instep. Sit on foot and slowly slide the board away from you by straightening the leg. This will begin to stretch the joint. The more force you use to straighten the leg, the more stretching force you will put on the joint. Begin gradually, using low force. Stretch each foot for 45 seconds to one minute. Stretch every other day. Gradually, over a period of several weeks, increase the amount of time per foot, the force levels and the number of days per week.

For the first couple of weeks, you will have some tenderness on the underside of the ankle joint. After this passes, you can significantly increase stretching force and duration.

Tarsal-metatarsal stretch: Place foot in the strap attatched to a board so the strap runs over the lower portion of the foot, just above the toes. It is usually necessary to tighten the strap a little. Stretch this area the same way you stretched the ankle joint.

Once you increase ankle range of motion, your kick will change. You will kick with a straighter leg and your foot will move up and down a shorter distance but will move faster. This new kicking movement greatly increases the use of hip flexor muscles. Specific stretching and strengthening exercises are needed to help the hip flexor muscles stand up at this increased demand.

Hip flexor stretch: Place your left leg on a chair (photo #4) while supporting yourself with a hand on the chair back. To stretch, bend the right knee, allowing your body weight to press down on your right leg. As you press down, also lean your torso back. This places excellent stretching forces on the hip flexor muscles.

Move into this stretch gradually so you do not injure or pull any portions of the muscles being stretched. Hold this position 60 to 90 seconds per leg. Do both legs. Do three to four times per week.

Hip Flexor Strengthening

In the deep end of the pool, kick (with fins) in a vertical position. Warm up with a couple of minutes of easy kicking. Then, kick hard for 30 seconds followed by a 20 second rest. Keep you legs straight while kicking. This isolates the hip flexor muscles. You will feel the muscles working in the front of your pelvis. If you allow the knees to bend, the hip flexors work less and the quadriceps muscles work more. Try kicking both ways and you will notice the difference. Begin with 1 x 30- or 2 x 30-second kicking periods with rests in between. Over a period of several weeks, work up to eight to 10 periods of 30-second versicle kicking. Do this three times per week.

When will you improve? This often depends on the range of motion of your foot when you begin. Many swimmers notice some benefits within one to two weeks. If you stretch aggressively and regularly, you will improve for many weeks. The versicle kicking exercises will start to pay off in two to three weeks.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------- Marty Hull is a top Masters swimmer and a consultant to the Stanford University Swim Team. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- Reproduced from the July/August 1995 issue of SWIM Magazine. To purchase this single issue contact 1-800-345-SWIM. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

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SwimBC’s third Regional Camp of the season took place in Chilliwack on November 2-3, as 32 of the Lower Mainland’s best swimmers came together to learn about and work on their swimming skills and gain inspiration.

We were very pleased to have Canadian Record-holder and two-time Olympian, Scott Dickens assisting at the camp, as he provided significant insight for the swimmers on what it takes to make it to among the very best in the world.

His key message was that it was NOT solely hard work, and that in fact, just getting in the pool and working as hard as you can may be detrimental to swimming performance; rather, there is the need to swim better and smarter, not harder, that will ultimately make the difference.

The swimmers were challenged to set aside the “first to the wall” mentality that often sets in when competitive kids get together, but rather, to take that message to heart (and head) and think about what they were doing and how they could change their strokes.

Much of the camp focused on core activation, once again using the same activation protocol developed and promoted by the Canadian Sport Institute’s staff of physiologists, trainers, and biomechanists.  While there was some “going through the motions” during our first couple of sessions, by the time we got to Sunday, the execution of the exercises had improved immensely.

Regional Coach and Interim Provincial Coach, Mike Flegel, once again led the sessions, with each one focusing on each of the strokes and the “Big Ideas” of the camp, 

Big Ideas:

  1. Fish Kick (four fish kicks / two dolphin kicks EVERY wall)
  2. Body Position - Be able to balance in the water and hold that while moving and (maybe even more challenging) NOT moving (aptly and ably demonstrated by Scott Dickens, despite still having a cast on his arm from a recent fracture in his forearm)
  3. Anchor - Anchor the hand/forearm in the water before starting the pull
  4. Recovery - Recover the arm (not the hand, not the forearm)

As with our other camps this year, it was great to have Graham Olson, video guru with CSI-Pacific there to have underwater video on a big screen running on a delay so the swimmers could review their performance after they touched the wall.

Our 25m underwater fish kick / dolphin kick test saw four swimmers get under the "Killer Kicker" (we're still working on the name) standard which we've created to encourage swimmers to develop this skill and recognize those who put up solid times.

 From Chad - Have a look at the underwater dolphin Kick - particularly of the first few swimmers. Watch the UP AND DOWN motion of the kick. It occurs in 2 directions - not just down. Also watch the hip movement - the kick is generated from the hips and the legs are "flexed" not bent while they kick. Firm core, firm legs with flexion. Here is the link....




"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better."
Samuel Beckett


As a young man, Abraham Lincolnwent to war a captain and returned a private. Afterwards, he was a failure as a businessman. As a lawyer in Springfield, he was too impractical and temperamental to be a success. He turned to politics and was defeated in his first try for the legislature, again defeated in his first attempt to be nominated for congress, defeated in his application to be commissioner of the General Land Office, defeated in the senatorial election of 1854, defeated in his efforts for the vice-presidency in 1856, and defeated in the senatorial election of 1858. At about that time, he wrote in a letter to a friend, "I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on the earth."

Winston Churchillfailed sixth grade. He was subsequently defeated in every election for public office until he became Prime Minister at the age of 62. He later wrote, "Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never - in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never, Never, Never, Never give up." (his capitals, mind you)

Socrates was called "an immoral corrupter of youth" and continued to corrupt even after a sentence of death was imposed on him. He drank the hemlock and died corrupting.

Sigmund Freud was booed from the podium when he first presented his ideas to the scientific community of Europe. He returned to his office and kept on writing.

Robert Sternberg received a C in his first college introductory-psychology class. His teacher commented that "there was a famous Sternberg in psychology and it was obvious there would not be another." Three years later Sternberg graduated with honors from Stanford University with exceptional distinction in psychology, summa cum laude, and Phi Beta Kappa. In 2002, he became President of the American Psychological Association.

Charles Darwin gave up a medical career and was told by his father, "You care for nothing but shooting, dogs and rat catching." In his autobiography, Darwin wrote, "I was considered by all my masters and my father, a very ordinary boy, rather below the common standard of intellect." Clearly, he evolved.

Thomas Edison's teachers said he was "too stupid to learn anything." He was fired from his first two jobs for being "non-productive." As an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, "How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?" Edison replied, "I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps."


"Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall."