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From the Deck: Climbing the Water

Do you frequent the pool? What do you see stepping on to a pool deck as you gaze at the water? Most likely you will see a big bath tub. At tweak we see a wall of water. Imagine, a 75ft wall of water encased in a giant tile structure, lane lines going straight up into the air, water standing there. You can walk right up to it. You can place your hand into it. You can place your whole body into it and then you can travel through it. Which way shall we go first? Let’s go up!

The Wall of Water:

Raise your arms with your hands above your head and walk up to the wall of water. If the goal is to go up, which way would you press on the water? How would you maneuver your arm inside the wall to go up? You would do so by pressing your arms down your body, in a fashion very similar to the way you would press with you arms to get your body out of a pool with tall gutters. Unfortunately, this is not what our video would look like if we turned our cameras at tweak and displayed the video as if the swimmer was moving in the vertical direction. What you would see would blow your mind. We see people visualize walking up to the wall of water with their hands raised above their heads, ready to try to move up the wall; however, their arms do not press down along their body – they move out and away from their body, towards the sides of the pool. By pressing sideways, the swimmer will not go ‘up’ the wall, but will use energy moving laterally.

Battling Evolution:

It can be difficult for the swimmer to trick their mind into thinking in such a way about their stroke; but when it comes down to it, in swimming it is expected that your body is horizontal, and humans are built vertically. Swimming takes place in water, and humans are built to breath air. These two things create huge issues of conflict with a humans primal instincts, proprioception and general perception of reality. Humans can’t swim, we aren’t built to. Can a fish walk? (flopping up and down and progressing along the deck doesn’t count) You wouldn’t call that walking or running, would you? However, humans can climb. Climbing has been a core part of our evolution, and similar swimming it requires a fantastic strength to weight ratio and a great cardio vascular system. But, unlike swimming, our primal instincts are ‘A-OK’ with climbing. Instead of thinking about moving across a pool, we have to think about using our bodies to move straight up the pool, to ‘climb’ it.

Climbing the Wall:

Thinking vertically about moving through the water is not easy at first. Neither is thinking horizontally, actually. In our swim analysis appointments we often see athletes struggling with their orientation as they move through the water. The coaches at tweak have been able to greatly expedite the learning process, largely because we’ve found that coaching vertically generates better natural results. That is, we instruct the swimmer as if they are moving ‘up’ the pool instead of ‘across’ it. We help them see the water as a wall and then let them climb on their own at first. In their first trial they often produce at least a single technically excellent stroke, and produce a number of strokes that are technically better than those before they visualized climbing the wall. It’s pretty amazing. We show the swimmer this excellent stroke and break down the way that they can successfully repeat this motion which leads to improved performances and reduces their incidence of injury.

Want to try firsthand? Think about this at your next swim, or come into tweak at either our Cole Street or Canton location for a free 10-minute trial in one of our in-line pools! You can also schedule an appointment right on our site!

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