H2O SyncSwimming 'Splained

SyncSwimming is really a form of peer coaching. The coach pairs up swimmers of differing stroke length. The swimmer with the lowest stroke count is considered the leader. In general what we want is for the leaders to serve as swimming models and for each of the others (we affectionately refer to them as “lemmings”) to try to mimic the stroke timing and stroke length of their leader for one or more lengths of the pool.

Although a difference of two or three strokes per length is enough for lemmings to benefit from this exercise, we routinely pair lemmings with leaders who have much lower stroke counts.

Following are a few things we’ve found to be important when first trying to make this work:

  • For each length, the lemming should swim on the side where he can best see the leader – usually so he is breathing toward the leader. It is the leader’s responsibility to adjust his pushoff (perhaps giving the lemming a head start) and glide such that, as the leader begins his first stroke, the lemming is a bit ahead in the lane, with his head roughly even with the leaders hands.
  • The leader should take his first stroke with the same arm that the lemming normally takes his first stroke with.
  • As he glides, the lemming must wait and take his first stroke only when he sees the leader taking his first stroke.nb
  • From there, the lemming waits to take each subsequent stroke until the leader takes the stroke (i.e. the lemming must leave his lead hand out front as long as the leader does on every stroke).
  • The leader may need to attenuate swimming tempo in order allow the lemming to “hang” with him through as many stroke cycles as possible.
  • The leader should not shorten his strokes to make things easier for the lemming – it is the lemming’s responsibility to adjust timing and lengthen strokes to match the leader.

It will likely take several lengths to establish cooperation/coordination between leader and lemming. In well-executed SyncSwimming, observers will see two swimmers moving along in the pool with no hints to discern leader from lemming.

For much expanded/detailed information see the soon-to-be-posted article,See also the article Leaders and Lemmings by Coach Emmett Hines.

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