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Swim Training: Start here

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  • Swim Training: Start here

    Q. I am new to swimming and learning the CSS and I don't know where to start. What resources exist to learn the Combat Side Stroke?

    A. See the official Combat Side Stroke Guide and the instructional video (19:27 long):

    The video covers basic swim principles, the mechanics of the Combat Side Stroke (CSS), and practice drills to isolate and improve stroke components.

    Q. I am in excellent cardiovascular shape, but when I try to swim I get exhausted very quickly. What am I doing wrong, and how can I fix this?

    A. A swimmer in otherwise excellent physical condition experiencing this is most likely not fully exhaling and is operating off of sub-maximal volume with shallow, inefficient breaths. It's not a conditioning issue. You are just not getting enough fuel (O2) to the motor (your muscles).

    The exhale should take place entirely subsurface, and should finish *right before* your head rotates to breathe. The exhale should be complete, to flat lungs. The inhale should be as deep as possible, as full as possible and as sudden as possible. It should make a "sound" almost like a gasp. Every single breath you take in that pool needs to be like this. Every one of them from 100% flat lungs to 100% full with new air.

    Another possible cause is that the swimmer is overextending the stroke cycle and introducing too much delay between breaths. Decreasing the delay between breaths may help.

    A third contributing factor can be lack of relaxation. A swimmer who is unnecessarily tight and anxious will experience this effect sooner than a relaxed, efficient swimmer.

    Many "dry land" athletes struggle with this same issue. Swimming properly should feel like you are in a weightless environment and can be as easy as walking. Most often what happens with many newer swimmers is that they use their arms and legs vigorously to just keep their body from sinking. A LOT of energy is wasted this way. In the water the arms and legs should be used for forward propulsion and not buoyancy.

    Understanding how to use one's own body to float, controlled and regulated breathing and the amount of air needed in the lungs to help one float effortlessly is critical to feeling comfortable and effortless in the water. Understanding the correct head position and knowing how to use the body's natural buoyancy while swimming is crucial to saving energy in the water. Any swimmer becoming more comfortable with the principles mentioned will feel more at home in the water and the energy needed to swim will be dramatically reduced.

    Q. I have been swimming the CSS for a while and would like to get some peer critique. What is the best way to do that?

    A. Record and post a video on YouTube, and post the link on the forum. You'll get the best and most accurate critique that way:

    1. The video should show a complete 500Y swim. If that isn't possible, at least 100-200Y including turns.

    2. The video should be of sufficient quality so as to show detail of the stroke, and optimally fill the frame with the swimmer, unobstructed.

    3. You should swim on the video with the exact same intensity, and exact same technique that you apply to your 500Y PST swim.

    A video tape of swimming the CSS from the side and from the front should be sufficient to critique any stroke.

    Q. I have been told my turns are slow. What is the most efficient way to turn at the wall?

    A. See the multi part "Open turn" sequence on youtube.

    Q. What is a "streamline?," is it permitted, and how do I know that I am performing it properly?

    A. A streamline in swimming is a pose used by competitive swimmers to conduct an efficient underwater glide. It is commonly employed when a swimmer pushes off the wall, but can also be employed during the CSS stroke after the kick to "glide" for a second or two before the arm pulls. There are numerous videos on youtube available which illustrate and describe the streamline.

    Extending both arms above the head while squeezing the ears with the arms will let you know you are in the proper streamline position. Hands should be one on top of the other with the top hands thumb locking below the pinky of the bottom hand.

    Q. Am I allowed to push off the wall and perform underwater strokes (e.g. dolphin kick, breast stroke pullout) on the 500Y CSS swim?

    A. Yes. Underwater kicks and pulls are permitted. The official conduct standards of the swim portion of the PST is available on this site and specifies how each portion of the test is conducted. Refer to that.

    Q. What should I do when pushing off the wall to improve my swim time?

    A. There is no single technique advocated, but a lot of swimmers perform what is called a "breast stroke pullout." Push off the wall, maintain a streamline position and coast until you reach stroke speed. Perform a double arm pull, recover the arms to streamline, and perform a breast stroke or scissor kick to initiate the CSS stroke cycle. Recommend including dolphin kicks if you are proficient at doing them.

    Q. Can I do flip turns on the PST swim?

    A. Flip turns are not permitted. Refer to the PST conduct guidelines.

    Q. I am doing the CSS correctly but my swim time is not improving. Why?

    A. Having good form is only one part of the equation. In order to swim faster, your kick and pulls must be strong and productive, and your turns and pull outs (push off the wall) must also be efficient.

    Q. When I perform a breast stroke pull out on every length, I get tired very quickly. Why?

    A. Most likely you are not breathing correctly. See above ref. breathing. Another possibility is that you are trying to go too far underwater on each length.

    Doing a Breast Pull out after each turn requires holding ones breath much longer and is harder to maintain over longer swims unless swimming efficiently.

    Q. How can I keep my head from lifting out of the water during breathing?

    A. Refer to the official guide and video and re-examine the drills.

    Q. I don't understand the terms being used on this site. LSD, CHI, INT. What are they?

    A. These are defined in the NSW Physical Training Guide (PTG), available in the Training section of this website.

    Q. I typically do my swim workouts after a strength or cardio workout. Is this correct?

    A. No. Your swim workout is separate and equal to those other conditioning elements. Refer to the PTG. You should mix up when and in what order you are doing all of your workouts.
    Last edited by Admin; 05-04-2015, 12:16 PM.
    Navy SEAL & SWCC Scout Team

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