I repeat the word “streamline” at least a dozen times every I’m on the deck. I probably say it in my sleep.
What I mean by streamline is what Michael Phelps is doing in this picture:
It’s pretty straightforward (no pun intended).
A couple of seasons ago I showed my swimmers the Michael Phelps picture, and then photographed them imitating it. I got quite a few variations on the streamline theme.
We work on streamline at every single practice.
I demonstrate while standing on the deck. I show them pictures. I stand behind them on deck and squeeze their little arms against their head, holding them in the correct position. I have them watch other swimmers in the pool who are doing it correctly. Still, streamline is a struggle and ends up in conversations like this:
Me (speaking to Cute Little Swimmer –or CLS — after watching her forget to streamline): Hey, CLS — when you leave the wall for backstroke, I want you to hold your streamline.
CLS: I do.
I watched her again, and then tried different words to explain it to her.
Me: When you leave the wall for backstroke, you’re doing a good job getting those arms up into streamline, but what you’re doing immediately after is pulling them to your side.
CLS: No, I don’t.
Me (pretending I didn’t hear that): This time really think about holding your arms above your head until you’re ready to take that first stroke.
The next time, I took pictures. Here she is, leaving the wall. Her arms were heading towards streamline.But then she disappeared under the water, and I couldn’t see what was happening.
When I saw her right arm, it was out to the side. Not in streamline.
Then both arms were at her side.
She tried to get them back up into streamline.
But she pulled them down again.
When she came back to the wall, I showed her the pictures.
She looked at them, rather disbelievingly.
“I can’t do it,” she finally said to me. “I have asthma.”
It was my turn for disbelief.
Once I had a swimmer tell me she couldn’t kick at practice because she had gotten new boots. “My feet are still getting used to them,” she said. But she obviously wasn’t wearing her boots in the pool. And her feet looked fine.
I’ll keep working on streamline with my group.
At every practice.
Some day maybe CLS will get it.