Somax has developed a special program for National Swim Teams based on its exclusive frame-by-frame measurement of underwater stroke mechanics. This new approaching to coaching is so effective that it comes with a money-back guarantee: If your National Team swimmers do not swim faster, with fewer strokes, we will refund your money.*
Conventional Swim Coaching
Conventional swim instruction is based on on-deck coaching, a technology that is more than 2,000 years old. On-deck coaching started when the first coach stood on the shores of the Aegean and yelled over the sound of the waves to his swimmer in the water. With on-deck coaching, a swim coach stands on the deck and tries to teach stroke technique while not being able to see exactly what the swimmer is doing underwater. Even worse, swimmers do not see their stroke either, and just assume they are doing what their coach has told them.
In addition, most stroke instruction is based on subjective opinion. Some coaches prefer this theory, some that. Nothing is measured.
Since each single stroke in swimming is less than one second, you can imagine the difficulty of training a large group of swimmers while standing on the deck, unable to see what is happening underwater.
As a result, most swim coaching is just physical training. Swimmers get faster as a result of ever increasing age and yardage, greater intensity of training, and dryland strength training. But the improvements are slow, and often swimmers plateau or even regress. The side-effects of this type of training are boredom, burn-out, shoulder injuries, and eventual defeat by swimmers who are accidentally more efficient.
Somax teaches swimmers to improve their stroke efficiency with frame-by-frame underwater stroke analysis coupled with its exclusive drills and training aids. When each swimmer on your team can see their underwater stroke compared to the underwater stroke of a World Record holder, when they can learn drills that will teach them to duplicate that stroke while they swim, and when their new stroke is videotaped and measured on a weekly basis, they will swim faster and faster because they will be more efficient.
The best measure of stroke efficiency is how much distance a swimmer can travel with each stroke. The longer the distance, the lower the stroke count. Average freestyle and backstroke counts for age group and senior swimmers is 14-24 strokes (single arm pulls) per 25 yards. Somax trained swimmers are so efficient that their average stroke counts are only 7-12 strokes per pool length.
This unique program of frame-by-frame stroke analysis grew out of 1500 hours of research Somax conducted during 1985-7 on underwater tapes of World Record swimmers, as well as measuring many Olympic swimmers and training 17 elite swimmers over the past 19 years.
Many of our findings were at variance with wide-spread assumptions about swimmers and swimming. Most coaches and swimmers think that the power in swimming comes from the arms. But Matt Biondi, for instance, while holding the five fastest times in the world in the 100m freestyle, had 10% less power output in his arms (as measured on a bio-kinetic bench), but 70% more power in his hips than other sprinters on his team. He also had a total of 70 degrees more range of motion in his shoulders. These, and similar, findings tell us that to dominate swimming you need flexibility (not strength) in your arms and shoulders, and that the power in swimming really comes from the hips.
Janet Evans' breathing ranges were at least 50% greater than her competitor's breathing ranges, while her VO2max was only 56, compared to her competitors with a VO2max of 70-80. At the time, Janet held world records in the 400, 800 and 1500m freestyle. This tells us that the flexibility in your chest and abdomen is more important for endurance than your level of fitness.
Based on our finding, the 17 elite swimmers Somax trained went on to earn 43 Gold Medals and set 11 World Records in international competition after their Somax training. Independent analysis of these swimmers (hand force output curves, reduction in stroke count, and speed trials) confirmed the improvements in each of these swimmers came from their Somax training.
Elite Somax Swimmers
Somax analyzed Matt Biondi June 1988 at the request of his coach, Nort Thornton. Matt had lost several 100m freestyle races that spring, despite holding the five fastest times in the world. Underwater videotape analysis showed that Matt had reduced his hip rotation on one side by just 15 degrees.
Over a period of two weeks, Somax increased the range, speed and advanced the timing of Matt's hip rotation. His stroke count dropped from 13 strokes on 25 yards to just 9 strokes.
His time in the 50m free went from 22.42 to 22.14 (1.2% drop) at the 1988 Olympics, a new World Record. His 100m free dropped from 49.62 to 48.42 (2.4% drop) at the Olympic Trails, also a new World Record.
Matt went on to win five Gold Medals, one Silver and one Bronze in Seoul. The Bronze was in the 200m free. Somax predicted his performance would be less stellar in the longer distance because of a decrease in his abdominal breathing range from doing numerous sit-ups.
Amy Van Dyken
Somax trained Amy Van Dyken at a week-long camp at Colorado Springs during the end of August 1995 at the request of her coach. Amy doubled her peak force output, and while she did not increase her stroke length at race pace, she was able to drop her stroke count while training from 30 to 15 on 50m, and went on to win four Gold Medals at Atlanta.
These graphs show that swimmers who increased the acceleration of their hips doubled the peak hand force (heavy solid line) they applied to the water after just one week of Somax training. You can see that neither swimmer produced much force until after they rotated their hips. The female sprinter was able to advance the timing of her hip rotation (thin, broken line) and thus doubled her insweep peak. The male sprinter delayed his hip rotation, and his initial hand force output was less. Then he doubled his peak force as he accelerated his hips. The female sprinter, Amy Van Dyken, won four Gold Medals and the male sprinter, Jon Olson, won two Gold Medals at Atlanta.
Amy dropped her time in the 50m free from 25.03 to 24.87 (.6% drop) and in the 100m free from 55.76 to 53.91 (relay) (3.3% drop). She won four Gold Medals at Atlanta.
Amy increased her AIR and hip extension ranges from 40 to 60 degrees with two sessions of Microfiber Reduction. She was able to swim free of shoulder pain after her Somax program.
Unfortunately, Amy injured her shoulder lifting weights after the Olympics, and had to recuperate for a year after shoulder surgery. She re-entered competition and won two Gold Medals at Sydney.
These photos show the improvement in shoulder and hip flexibility from just two hours of Microfiber Reduction. The shoulder range AIR (Abduction with Internal Rotation) is critical for keeping the elbows up during the stroke. Hip extension is critical for reducing drag.
Somax also trained Jon Olson during the same camp at Colorado Springs. Jon also doubled his peak hand force output during the camp. He went on to win two Gold Medals at Atlanta.
Stanford Swim Team
Stanford hired Somax to analyze and train eight of its top women freestylers and backstrokers, including Jenny Thompson and Lea Loveless, in the fall of 1995. Underwater analysis showed that Jenny and Lea, the best swimmers on the team, rotated their hips earlier than any of the other swimmers.
All the swimmers in this group were trained to increase the speed and advance the timing of their hip rotation. There was no Microfiber Reduction.
Times were taken for the entire team during speed trials before and three months after the Somax four-day training. Three months after the Somax training, the Somax-trained swimmers were going faster than the Stanford-trained swimmers.
This graph shows the speed of two Stanford swimmers at various stroke cycles. Times were taken before the Somax training (black line) and three months later (red line). As you can see, the Somax-trained swimmer on the left was swimming faster.
At the NCAA's the following Spring, Stanford Women won by 80 points. The prior year, with essentially the same swimmers, they won by just 19 points.
Swim National Team Program Goals
Our experience working with elite swimmers has shown us that just a five-day program of Somax analysis and drills doubles peak hand force output, increases flexibility and reduces times .6-3%. The goals of the National Team Program are to double peak hand force output, increase flexibility and reduce times by 3% or more.
While elite swimmers in our five-day camps doubled their peak hand force output and cut their stroke count at training pace 30-50%, they were not able to increase their stroke length at race pace. Amy Van Dyken, for instance, dropped her stroke count on 50m from 30 strokes per length to 15 strokes per length during training, but her stroke length at race pace was unchanged.
With our National Team Program, we will help swimmers increase their stroke length at race pace, so they can swim with the same ease and efficiency as Alex Popov.
This graph shows how Alexander Popov effortlessly swims world record times. The heavy solid line shows the amount of propulsive force generated by his right arm. The dotted line below shows the velocity of his right hip as it rotates toward the surface. Popov rotates his hip 5/30ths of a second before his insweep, and again 5/30ths of a second before his outsweep. Despite having a small hip rotation, he is able to generate 75-100 Newtons of force. Increasing the speed of his hip rotation would enable him to increase his peak force to 150 Newtons and swim faster. Our goal in our Swim Team Program is to do exactly this.
As you can see, Popov's stroke is 50% longer than most elite swimmers. This increase in stroke length comes from his early hip rotation. Popov rotates his hip 4/30ths of a second before his insweep, and again 4/30ths of a second before his outsweep. Amy Van Dyken was able, in one week, to advance the timing of her hip rotation 2/30ths before her insweep and outsweep. With constant practice of our exclusive drills and bi-weekly underwater videotaping and analysis of stroke mechanics, our program will enable swimmers in our Swim Team Program to advance the timing of their hip rotation to 4/30ths of a second before their insweep and outsweep.
National Team Program Content
We will teach your swimmers to increase their stroke efficiency through frame-by-frame underwater stroke analysis, our exclusive drills, training aids and stretches.
Unlike most underwater videotape analysis, we measure stroke mechanics by the degree every 1/30th of a second, and then we train swimmers to improve their mechanics, measuring their progress along the way.
Our drills have been developed over the past 19 years to increase the speed and advance the timing of hip rotation, the real source of power in freestyle and backstroke. We have found that the power in fly and breast also comes from the hips, and have developed drills and methods of analysis for these strokes as well.
Our training aids for this program includes the Somax POWERBELT, the only training aid that provides resistance to hip rotation, thereby increasing the strength and speed of this essential and critical movement.
The POWERBELT consists of a pair of fins that strap onto the hips and provide resistance to hip rotation and undulation, the real source of power in swimming.
In addition to the POWERBELT we will make available to swimmers in this program new training aids developed by Somax.
Program Training Schedule
Our performance specialists will train your swimmers to swim more efficiently. They will swim faster with the same or less effort. Each five-week camp concentrates on one stroke (except that freestylers and backstrokers can attend the same camp). We offer camps in each stroke.
We believe it is important that everyone on your team learn and understand underwater stroke mechanics. In this way, everyone will be on the same page. Your team will be more unified when everyone has the same goal: the most efficient stroke for each and every swimmer on the team.
Each camp consists of five five-day weeks, with three hours each morning in the pool or dryland training. Dryland consists of a frame-by-frame review of tapes made during the day and special dryland stretching and strengthening exercises. Dryland also includes our special Stress Reduction program to help your swimmers improve their motivation and reduce pre-competition stress.
The afternoon time is devoted to individual sessions of Microfiber Reduction for each participant. Each camp participant will receive one session per week of Microfiber Reduction in order to improve their flexibility and breathing far beyond what stretching alone can do. Those swimmers not doing their Microfiber Reduction session will return to the pool to practice their Somax drills.
Before any swimmers are analyzed, we show your swimmers underwater tapes of World Record holders, measuring and analyzing their stroke mechanics. Once swimmers see their own stroke compared to a World Record holder, they will clearly see what they need to improve. We then teach them how to improve their stroke with our exclusive drills, training aids, stretches and exercises.
We also teach your swimmers how to videotape with an underwater camcorder. If your swimmers do not already have underwater camcorders, we can direct you to suppliers who have excellent equipment for this purpose. A modern underwater attachment for camcorders allows a swimmer to stand comfortably on the deck while videotaping underwater. The attachment has a waterproof underwater lens. The waterproof lens is separated from the camcorder body by an extension pole that attaches to the bottom of the camcorder. The swimmer stands on the deck, lowers just the lens below the water surface, and can see the swimmers on the LCD screen. Each swimmer is taped from the side and front (and back with breaststroke). The tapes are then played back on a VCR with frame-advance so the swimmers can see what they are doing every 1/30th of a second. Every swimmer gets instant visual feedback to see whether or not they are doing their drills and stroke correctly. It is the fastest, most efficient way to learn swimming.
This may sound complex compared to on-deck coaching, but it is so much more effective, and actually very simple once you get used to the new approach. One ten year-old boy, for instance, reduced his stroke count on 50 meters from 62 strokes to just 15 strokes in just five days. Another 10 year-old who had plateaued for a year dropped his 200 free time from 2:19 to 2:09, and went on to win 9 Gold Medals at his state meet, setting three state records in the process. Once swimmers get to see their stroke underwater, they will never want to go back to on-deck coaching again. If a ten year-old can learn our system, then your National Team swimmers can also.
Also in each camp, we teach your swimmers how to measure their flexibility and strength. We provide Stretchcards and Strengthcards for them to keep track. We also provide Strokecards to keep track of stroke counts. In this way, the entire camp team will get to see their stroke and drills on tape after they return home. Every week they will measure their strength and flexibility for swimming. Each week they will see improvements. Week by week they will see their stroke counts dropping, they will go through the water more smoothly, and as they improve their drills, their pace will increase. Then they will see their times dropping as they take their new stroke to competition.
As you can see, the Somax National Swim Team Program engages the mind much more than current swim coaching. Swimmers will learn about muscles and physiology, stroke mechanics, how to measure and keep records, and how to set and meet goals--all skills that will help them in swimming and later in life.
Once your swimmers have completed a camp, they will continue to train with the Somax drills each day. For each stroke we have developed a 2500 yard or meter drill set consisting of 12 different drills that will develop and integrate the skills needed for an efficient stroke. While it is possible to teach an efficient stroke in five weeks, we find that it takes 3-6 months of daily practice of our drills in order to learn the new stroke well enough to be able to race with it in competition.
In order to race with an efficient stroke, your swimmers need to practice the drills correctly. For this reason, we recommend that every swimmer see their underwater stroke at least three times a week. After they have practiced for 2-3 months, it will be helpful for them to see their stroke at race pace in order to see which skills they are bringing to their racing stroke, and which skills are missing.
National Team Program Follow-Up
Somax performance specialists will be available for follow up if your team needs it. Our fees for follow-up are set on a team-by-team basis.
Instruction fees are $15,000 per swimmer for each five-week camp, for a minimum of 10 swimmers. There is also a bi-weekly Internet Stroke Analysis fee (25 analyses for the 52 weeks following the camp) of $17,500 per swimmer. Fees are due at the time the program is scheduled and are not refundable. Each five-week camp covers a single stroke. A Somax Powerbelt is made to size for each swimmer for a one-tme fee of $50 per swimmer. Travel and expenses for Somax staff, underwater attachments and camcorders and strength-testing dynamometers are extra. Fees include all instruction for the specific stroke and its starts and turns, and a Stretchcard, Strengthcard and laminated drill card and protractor for each swimmer. Fees are a license to use the information and POWERBELT for only the swimmers who attend the camp. All drills, methods of analysis and POWERBELTS remain the property of Somax. All swimmers, coaches and federation officials will be required to complete a non-disclosure form prior to the first camp.
Your team must provide a pool at least 25 yards in length with a minimum of four lanes (or a 50m pool with a minimum of two lanes) and 82-degree clear water. You will also need a nearby room with mats or carpets for stretching and a large television set to view underwater videotapes. Minimum age for the National Team Program is twelve. If your team wishes to train here in the US, we can provide pool space, lodging and meals for a reasonable fee. All fees and registration materials must be received by Somax at least two months prior to each camp so that our instructors can make travel arrangements and Powerbelts can be custom-made for each swimmer on your team.
Microfiber, Tension and Stress Reduction
Microfiber Reduction (our exclusive form of connective tissue massage that improves flexibility far beyond what stretching alone can do) and Tension and Stress Reduction are included in our National Swim Team Program. Each swimmer will receive one session of individual Tension or Microfiber Reduction each week to improve flexibility. The team as a whole will be taught Stress Reduction to help them reduce the stress of competition.
To register your team, please contact Somax. We have an information package that you can order that includes a videotape of our program, as well as articles and research results to distribute to your team coaches and swimmers. Somax can conduct similar National Team Programs for other sports such as running, tennis, soccer, baseball, basketball, judo, pentathlon, triathlon, rowing,softball, ice hockey, skating and skiing.
* Somax guarantees that your National Team swimmers who successfully complete our National Team Camp will swim faster within one year of completing our camp, or their individual fee will be refunded to the National Team. This money-back guarantee is extended to all able-bodied swimmers who complete our National Team Camp. To qualify for the guarantee, swimmers must be able to verify by videotape that they have completed our 2500-yard drill set each day, seen their underwater stroke on videotape at least three times a week, and corrected their stoke faults. They also must not do any training regimen that we find reduces their flexibility, causes them to be over-trained, or degrades their stroke efficiency. If, after one year, they do not improve their current times, we will refund their tuition on an individual basis. If a swimmer leaves the team for any reason, or suffers an injury, their guarantee is voided.