Tribute to Catherine Fox

A tribute to a legend: Catherine Fox

For the first half of the season, Stanford coach, Richard Quick, trained Catherine Fox primarily as a middle-distance swimmer with a focus on IM training. Sprinting and speed development came later as training became more and more individualized. “Catherine is very versatile,” says Quick. “She doesn’t work exclusively in any specific group or with any particular individual.” In the second half of the year, she rotates among the long sprinters, backstrokers, and flyers.

Underwater training was a key part of the Stanford program, particularly for those swimmers, like Fox, who used underwater techniques as a major weapon at NCAAs. Says Quick: “Catherine is very good under water. That’s due primarily to her core body strength, which she developed with her club coach, Pete Malone, by doing gymnastics. She’s a very strong and very coordinated athletic woman: she can do a large number of pull-ups, walk on her hands, and she jumps really well.”

Synchronized swimming teaching- where should you start?

When you know some basic synchronized swimming elements, which I hope to help you with, you are all geared up to start your own team, please take into account the following advice, which comes from 25 years of experience.

Please bear in mind that what you want to teach is the awesome Synchronized Swimming sport, not swimming.  For example, because it is your first experience in building a team, maybe you or your club is more interested in knowing the interest of the community in the sport, so you do some trials.  Good, this is the right track.  Let’s continue.

Now, you have a few swimmers that heard about the sport and want to give it a try.  You are interested in them and they are in the sport and you want to keep it this way.  When you test them you want to pay attention to a few things….they need to:

  1. Know how to swim – Not an awesome technique, but the correct one.  I will explain later the importance of this.
  2. Feel comfortable with their heads underwater – You would be thinking “duh” and yes, I share the thought, but a lot of swimmers that want to do synchronized swimming do not really think about this specific aspect of the sport and having to keep their heads underwater for relatively long periods of time.
  3. Have the age to pay attention – This starts I believe around 8 years old.  Before this age, what you will have is recreational synchronized swimming or you can call it, Introduction to Synchronized Swimming, which is awesome also, and you can use it as an introduction for competition synchronized swimming.

Synchronized swimming for 5th graders

Do you remember this funny video where 5th-grade boys team “showcased” their synchronized swimming skills?

It was a nice joke, in practice, however, synchronized swimming means a lot of work. It starts by creating a routine.

Usually, when you begin to think of ideas for the first time, you have young girls in your team who are enthusiastic and supported by their parents. Maybe they are about around 10 years old or less.

So, here are some ideas for that age group. There is a theme for these group and you will always find in any competition girls swimming to Disney music.  What is famous now, has been or what are the classics?  If ever in doubt I would use Mambo from Perez Prado, the swimmers find it funny and refreshing. …

Rogers “Tiger” Holmes- A swimmer, an innovator

A swimmer, an innovator, a provider, a visionary, Rogers “Tiger” Holmes, at 94, is everything that is positive about swimming, a man who oozes passion toward a sport that has supplied him with so much. How do we even begin to describe this man, an individual who has maxed out every day of his life? You could say he’s a diehard swimmer, dedicated to his sport on countless levels. But that description would be an unfair tag, particularly for a man who has contributed so much to the aquatic world, whether it be on a grass-roots basis or in the Masters world.

Yes, he’s a swimmer, and a darn good one at that. He’s also an innovator and a provider. He’s a visionary, never content to settle for the status quo. Quite simply, Rogers “Tiger” Holmes is everything that is positive about swimming, a man who oozes passion toward a sport that has supplied him with so much. Holmes’ movement through the water slowed with every passing day. Yet, as the clock ticked a little longer, Holmes’ legend grew. Such is his impact, an influence that has stretched through Florida, across the United States, and around the world.

The Tiger still growls…

Basic Butterfly Technique for Kids

Who said butterfly is just for kids? Why can’t Masters and fitness swimmers experience the exhilaration and feeling of freedom of the fly (short for butterfly) in their workouts? Why shouldn’t we add variety, challenge and extra conditioning benefits to our swim routines?

It’s true that many adult swimmers are intimidated by the butterfly. For most people, fly is the most challenging of all the strokes. Upper body and back strength are necessary, and both flexibility and good stroke coordination are vital. But most fitness and Masters swimmers have the ability to learn to swim butterfly. Don’t be shy about the fly. Begin training with water exercise drills to add strength and develop stroke technique and coordination.

A Reversal of Fortune – Suzanne Heim-Bowen

A tribute to a legend: Suzanne Heim-Bowen

Although most swimmers first swim in the pool and may switch to open water swimming later, Suzanne Heim-Bowen reversed that trend. It wasn’t until she was in her mid-30s that she took up pool swimming, where she is now turning in lifetime bests. Suzanne Heim-Bowen cuts smoothly through the wild chop of San Francisco Bay on a September evening, lifting her head periodically to set her sights on Alcatraz, the infamous prison island, or the various old-fashioned boats that bob in the bay not far from the Dolphin Club.

Heim-Bowen, 55, has been coming to the Dolphin Club for 30 years. The walls of the 121-year-old club are adorned with photos of her three crossings of the English Channel, among the countless pictures of luminary swimmers who have come through the club over the past century. She now helps young students reach their goals, supports online GED education, and helps them with online Math practice tests.

Heim-Bowen, a native of Marin, Calif., actually spent the majority of her career as an open water swimmer, dominating shorter (one- to three-mile) rough water races in the Bay Area and Southern California as well as crossing the English Channel three times, winning the U.S. 25K nationals (in 1988) and turning in top times in other long distance, cold water races.

She was Just That Good! – Caroline Krattli

A tribute to a legend: Caroline Krattli

Caroline Krattli, 55, holds 12 world records and is ranked among the top 10 all-time Masters swimmers for her age group in every stroke. She’s more than just the best in the world, she’s redefining what is possible in her sport. Her most recent club is Wind-n-Sea Masters Swimming (WIND). Some things that Caroline Krattli does not do:

  • Two-a-day practices
  • Year-round weightlifting
  • 7-8,000 yard practices
  • Organized nutritional and supplement plans
    Things she does do:

  • Work
  • Travel (she loves to plan meets based on her travel interests)
  • Spend time fixing up the 1930’s house that she and her husband of 20 years share

It’s January. The weather, even in Southern California, has changed. The UC San Diego swimmers file out of the locker rooms at 5:57 a.m., side by side with the Masters swimmers who share the pool with them on weekday mornings. In the early-morning winter light, swimmers look the same. They all come out huddled, their arms crossed over their chests, shoulders hunched forward, with a high-stepped scurry across the cold deck. Masters swimmers pass for college athletes, and 19-year-old kids move just like middle-aged accountants.

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The Fly Finish

In butterfly swimming, there is a reverse alchemy at work that can make silver out of what was destined to be solid gold. We call it “coming in long.” Its image is still fresh in our minds from the Olympics in Seoul:

“They now have ten meters to swim! Going for the gold! Biondi looks like he’s going to take it to the wall! And . . . uh . . . Nesty! takes it at the very last moment.”

On the instant replay, we were told:

“Biondi’s going to take two more strokes, and he coasts from here in. He coasted three meters! Look at that glide!”

Can there be an emptier feeling in all of swimming? You take a last, forceful stroke, slicing your hands toward the finish. Then, as if to tease this moment of triumph, the wall retreats from your expectant fingertips.

What makes the fly finish such risky business is the great stride length of the butterfly arm stroke, as the hands sail forward to bite off long stretches of water. In Seoul, Biondi took but 21 strokes to devour the final 50 of his 100 fly, versus 36 in freestyle.

Portrait of a Grand Master – Gail Roper

Gail Roper, a 1952 Olympian and Masters pioneer, looks at her swimming as an art. “When I’m in a race, I’m trying to paint the perfect picture, with the perfect start, the perfect turn and the perfect everything-in-between.

Gail Roper (born in 1929) had just returned home from the USMS Short Course Nationals in Tempe, Ariz. Over a long, hot weekend probably more conducive to inner tube lounging than day-in and day-out of all-out swimming, the 87-year-old legend swam in four different events. To the surprise of no one, she touched the wall first in each.

This, in and of itself, is probably the greatest barometer of Roper’s dominance. Whenever she’s in the competition pool, it’s rarely a question of if she will win. Instead, the focus shifts to her margin of victory and whether or not she will approach any national or world standards.

On this occasion, there were no new records. She did, however, once again prove herself to be the class of her age group. In the 400 yard IM, she outdistanced her nearest competitor by over 36 seconds. In the 100 fly and 100 IM, it was by 11 and 7 seconds, respectively. And in the most miniature of all events, the 50 freestyle, she beat the runner-up by an astonishing 5.55 seconds.