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500yd CSS - Critique Needed

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  • 500yd CSS - Critique Needed

    5'8 175lbs

    I've spent the past four months focusing on my freestyle to build a good swimming base, and I began working on the CSS a couple weeks ago. Below is the video, time stamps on each lap, the number of strokes for each lap, and the averages for my left and right side.


    I would really appreciate any advice.

  • #2
    work on your legs many time the top foot (one closest to the water doesnt extend very far) also right after the kick you want a arm pull dont wait until you slow down. personally i do the kick and the top arm pull at the same time then the bottom arm pull then the kick again. you might also want to work on speed once you finish the kick and the arm pull do another quickly i think you are letting yourself glide to long you could probably take upwards of a minute off your time if you just fixed your form in a few areas watch as many videos as you can on youtube then practice then by going so slow you are allowing your body to sink and slow even further you can see yourself compensating for it with the little flutter kicks you are doing in between kicks. your glide off the wall i also feel is a little long try to start the css before you slow to much.another huge thing you are doing is lifting your head out of the water and doing so you are causing your feet to sink all you need to do is turn you head to get air start exhaling before you head even comes out of the water then just turn you face to get air then repeat i think lifting your head out of the water is the biggest thing you could fix. once you fix your form a little and stop lifting you head out of the water like i said i bet you could take upwards of a minute off of your time. best of luck to you bro.


    • #3
      -Your head is coming up a little too much, you might want to stop just above the surface.

      - Hands CANNOT come out of water. At all.

      - On the last stage of your streamline, you take one arm and keep it by your side, while your other arm is out straight. Dunno if that helps you with your glide, you might just want to stay in your streamline.

      -Turning your head too much. Use your back for most of the turning power, not your head.

      -You're doing really good, but I'd recommend analyzing Stew Smith's CSS videos, and other random ones on the web.
      "Discipline Equals Freedom" - John "Jocko" Willink


      • #4
        Finally have a chance to check in with some critique here. Travel has been crazy.

        The good:

        Body position is pretty good.

        Swimming on both sides.

        Good strong launch off the wall.

        Effort being made at staying long (though the streamline needs work)


        Streamline is weak.

        A little over-rotated on breath. Look directly at the side of the pool and keep one eye wet.

        You seem to be worried about stroke count. Not just because it's on the screen, but I see evidence of artificially extending the strokes. It isn't working. I suspects it's why you are heaving for air at the wall. That reminds me - the turns are atrocious.

        Inconsistent double arm pull. If you are going to do the DAP, do it right, and do it EVERY TIME.

        Start-stop-start-stop (SSSS), and sinking straight down in the water when you stop.

        Legs - drag: Your lower legs are curving backwards behind the body. Almost all the time. You are pulling against that drag. If you are not kicking, your legs need to be TIGHT together, and hidden behind your head. This is one of the things causing SSSS and is the first thing you need to fix. You are also doing way too much flutter kicking, which is a compensation for your scissor kick's ineffectiveness.

        You are doing a long second pull which needs to be shortened to the sprinter's sidestroke pull. Also contributing to the SSSS. A shorter second pull means a faster recovery, so you won't have so much time between strokes to sink straight down. The long pull is also pulling you straight down in the water at times.

        Kick - it needs independent work with drills and a kickboard. By the end of the swim it's almost 100% ineffective.


        Toward the end of the swim, the effects of swimming against your own drag are starting to show. Your recovery became very slow and lazy, apart from the body, and you just look beat.


        My proposed order of going after these would be:

        1 - Learning to keep the legs tight in back. Keep the glutes tight and concentrate on a return to streamline after every scissor kick, remembering that streamline has a front AND a back.

        2 - Sprinters sidestroke pull, and forgetting about stroke count.

        3 - Kick and leg work. Stopping the crazy legs and making the scissor kick stronger. The form isn't terrible except for the backdrifting legs. It just needs power and conditioning. Kickboard drills (Stew has a vid) and the hand lead scissor kick drill from the official NSW video at the top of the swim section.

        4 - Turns. So many good videos on open turns are out there, there's just no excuse.

        5 - Streamline - This is more of a discipline issue.


        • #5
          Originally posted by fargo007 View Post
          Finally have a chance to check in with some critique here. Travel has been crazy.

          Streamline is weak.

          Start-stop-start-stop (SSSS), and sinking straight down in the water when you stop.

          You are doing a long second pull which needs to be shortened to the sprinter's sidestroke pull. Also contributing to the SSSS. A shorter second pull means a faster recovery, so you won't have so much time between strokes to sink straight down. The long pull is also pulling you straight down in the water at times.
          I've spent the last week working to fix my CSS, but I haven't been able to get the sprinter's sidestroke down. I did another 500yd CSS yesterday and got a 9:56. Although a couple of my splits were slightly faster, I was considerably more winded than during my previous 500yd CSS. Also, I know you said that a shorter second pull will make it so I don't sink as much, but I find myself sinking more as I rush to do my scissor kick. Alongside conditioning, I think my main problem is with timing.

          Given that only fins are used upon arriving at BUD/S, do you think it's worth switching from the full CSS to sprinter's sidestroke? I really appreciate your advice.


          • #6
            Tell me what your plan was going into the week, how you executed it, and what the outcome was. We can work on each of those and it's important to do so because that's the way stuff gets changed/fixed.

            I watched that swim again, and I stand by the order of attack I prescribed: Legs, short pull (to reduce recovery time), kick conditioning, turns, and streamline.

            If you are having trouble pulling it all together (acknowledging I did give you a tall order) , put another video up and let me see what's going on. If I can see it, I can tell you how to fix it.

            Please also realize this may take a lot more time than one week, and a lot more discipline to fix.


            • #7
              I swam three times last week, but I'll start swimming M-F. Each session would start and end with a 200yd warm up of CSS/FS along with 100yd of scissor kick drills. Monday I worked on the form, Wednesday intervals, and on Thursday I did the 500 yard CSS. I'll get a video up for you tomorrow.


              • #8
                Here's my 100yd CSS.


                • #9

                  The sprinter's pull really isn't the biggest issue here.

                  First, I noticed there are no double arm pulls. These need to come back. Done correctly they make all the difference, and make the best use of the fastest part of the pool (off the walls).

                  There is a body position problem with your legs. You are allowing the lower legs to drift backwards, completely ruining your momentum. You are pulling against that drag.

                  Next, you are taking your entire head out of the water and looking straight up to breathe. Sometimes you had both ears out of the water.


                  Timing: The main part of the sprinter's sidestroke that isn't right is the timing. You are breathing very late in the stroke cycle.

                  You should be rotating to breath with the first pull, just like freestyle. As it is now, you are adding breathing in as a separate thing, and it is creating a dead spot where you are sinking straight down.

                  The second pull should have a horizontal forearm. You are pushing water DOWN most of the time instead of pulling yourself forward. This is what's causing your head to rise up like that. Take a look again with this in mind.

                  I would also suggest that you should start your kick recovery sooner. There is too much dead space after the second pull. As that second pull is coming to the chest, that kick should be ready to go, or much more nearly so.


                  • #10
                    I stopped doing the double arm pulls because I was getting out of breath. I'll start doing them on my sub 200yd swims, but I didn't do them on this 350yd. I worked on the breathing issue, and I think it's a bit better in this video. I'm still doing the kick board drills and working on reducing the happy feet.



                    • #11
                      I do see some improvement with the head issue. It's not coming out of the water as much, but there's still some work to do. The timing of the breath is improved as well here. The lower legs drifting backward is still there. Keep the core engaged and turn your legs into two pencils, side by side.

                      Make an effort to look directly at the side of the pool when you are breathing. You should have a little view of the underwater world through your low eye. That eye should be wet the entire time. As it is now, your head is rotated almost vertically when you are breathing.

                      As this swim unfolded, you kept taking more and more time at the wall. Even without the double arm pull, it's apparent that it's taking a lot out of you.

                      Improving the kick will help with this. Keep going with that.

                      The other part of it is how you are running your lungs. Make sure you are exhaling underwater completely. I mean past where you'd stop with a normal breath. Push ALL the air out, and when your mouth hits the surface, inhale fast, and as deep as possible. This takes a conscious effort to do it right.

                      More oxygen is more fuel. It's also helps you balance because you can "lean on" that air. I suspect you aren't breathing this way (hard to tell on the video) if you are getting progressively winded on only 350Y at that pace.

                      You are on the right track. Keep working on this stuff for now and when that's all fixed, we will go after the double arm pull and turns, and then begin conditioning.


                      • #12
                        This is my current progress:

                        100yd w/ flutter kick

                        100yd w/o flutter kick

                        150 yd fin swim dolphin kick + flutter


                        • #13
                          Sorry I missed this one.

                          Of the two slick swims, I like the "without" a LOT better.

                          Even so, I'd work on these things with you:

                          1 - Too much head out of the water on breathing. One wet ear, one wet eye. You are almost picking your head up so far that the other ear is nearly surfacing. Focus on looking directly at the side.

                          2 - No real streamline. You are still getting far out front which is good, but it's definitely not a real streamline there. Off the second wall you also pulled one arm and didn't break into the stroke correctly. Frog kick to streamilne, then two pulls.

                          3 - Aside of the streamline off the wall needing work too, the DA pull mechanics are wrong (see my video on that) and you are also initiating it way too early.


                          On the fin swim, drop the dolphin kicks until you have a chance to work on them. They are incorrectly driven with the quads and knees when they should be done with the core.