Years ago, when I first entered the world of competitive swimming, I would get very frustrated at my inability to see my form and techniques. I had to rely on coaches or other swimmers to observe me and note any flaws; it helped, but it wasn’t a perfect system. Someone telling you to straighten your arm to a certain angle is not as effective as seeing it needs to be at a different one. Luckily technology has made great strides in this field and there are now underwater cameras to track your every stroke at every angle. All competitive swimmers should use them, you’ll see an immediate improvement in your performance. Let me share what I’ve found works best so you can get the most out of using underwater cameras.
You should have three camera’s set up underwater. One at each end and one in the middle of the pool. This set-up will give you all the views you need. The head-on view will show you how fluidly you cut through the water. It can highlight if your stroke is too choppy or how much splash you make when you start swimming. A front-end camera shows the lines of your body and your head placement and motions in relation to your arms. For me, this view helped me to see I was taking too big of a stroke, slowing my swim time own.
The camera at the back-end of the pool is similar to the front-end camera, it just highlights your leg movements instead. With this camera angle you can see how quickly you’re kicking and if your kicks are in sync. It will give you a good an idea if you need to improve leg strength or if there is too much drag. Your kicks should be powerful but light; a camera at the end of the pool can help you adjust the speed and force of your kicks.
Your most important view is the one provided by the camera in the middle of the pool. This camera gives you the best view of your swimming technique since it shows both your upper and lower body. You see how your strokes and kicks work in tandem. If your legs and arms are out of sync, even just slightly, it will make all the difference. This view will give you a good indication of what you’re doing wrong. It will show you things like if your head needs to be down more or if you need to shorten your stroke.
Using these three cameras together is the key to using this technology to your advantage. They can be expensive, each one is usually $200 or more, but they are definitely worth the money. I recommend Swim Pro, which has top of the line cameras. You can analyze your stroke, kick and the line of your body from every conceivable angle. You will see everything you’re doing wrong, so you can make the necessary corrections. Any swimmer who is serious about competing should make this a part of their training routine. It will change the way you approach your workouts, improve your overall form and have you ready to compete.
Competitive swimming comes down to thousandths of a second, so I’m always looking for gadgets and equipment that will help me keep my competitive edge. There are some really cool electronics on the market that can help a swimmer compete at their highest level. There’s no magical gadget to make you win every time, but there are instruments to help train more efficiently. Here are my top 3 must-haves to help you improve and make your training a little bit easier.
For me, keeping track of my different lap times can be frustrating and time consuming. I’d much rather be doing laps than trying to remember how many of them I did. That’s why I love The Chrono 100 by Splashwear Aquatics. For $39.90 you get a compact counter/stopwatch that works in depths up to 50 meters. It fits on your finger, so it’s light and easy to carry. Plus there’s a pause button, so if you need to stop mid-lap you can still get an accurate time for your lap. I found it to be a big help for me while I was training. I was able to go back and compare lap times to see where I needed to make adjustments and see which of my swim techniques needed tweaking.
Another electronic equipment I can’t live without, and you shouldn’t either, is the FINIS Aqua Pulse Heart Rate Monitor. There is nothing I find more disruptive when swimming than stopping to check my heart rate. Now I don’t have to: this monitor is worth every penny of its $129.99 price tag – although you can save a few dollars by buying online. Place the device inside your goggle strap, attach the clip to your ear lobe and start swimming. The monitor detects your heart beat through the blood flow in your earlobe and announce is out loud to you while you swim. You can also determine how often your heart rate is said aloud: from 10-second to 5 minute intervals. It allows you to focus on your form instead of your heart rate.
Last but certainly not least is every swimmers dream: the Amigo Fitness Bracelet which is currently in preorder at the time of writing. I know, you’re probably thinking: “why is this fitness bracelet such a big deal?” Well I’ll tell you: it’s actually a two-fold device: a bracelet for your wrist and a clip for your shoe so you can track both your upper and lower body movements! Now you can pinpoint which movements work by analyzing data for individual and combined body movements. This is perfect for getting your stroke as fluid as possible. They can also be worn and work independently, so you’re getting the most out of your money. It retails for about $200 and is a solid investment for dedicated swimmers.
These 3 electronic gadgets can help you make the most of your workout. You’ll spend less time recording your times/laps/vital signs and more time working on your problem areas. These gadgets are affordable, lightweight and easy to use, so you can put all your energy into getting ready for your next competition.