POSE IN PRESS A collection of articles about Pose Method and Dr.Romanov in various publications.
COMPETITOR SOUTHEAST (US)
The Force Moment in Swimming
by John Robson
An exclusive Competitor excerpt from Dr. Nicholas Romanov's forthcoming book, "The Pose Method of Triathlon Techniques."
Author’s Note: In 1996, during my short stint as editor of Florida Sports (FS) magazine (now Competitor Southeast and part of the Competitor network of magazines) FS Publisher Jim Woodman introduced me to the man behind the Pose Method concept (which Jim, a big fan, laughingly called Russian Running) the globe-trotting triathlon coach-at-large, Dr. Nicholas Romanov. Over the years, I got to know Dr. Romanov, then I got to write about him, and ultimately I got to write with him as the co-author of his first full-length book, “The Pose Method of Running,” which has now been sold in over 150 countries and is currently being translated into Spanish, Russian, German and Dutch. Three years later, we’re proud to present this exclusive excerpt on swimming from Chapter 49 of the follow-up book, “The Pose Method of Triathlon Techniques.”
…In the previous chapter we redefined the concept of swimming and recast it as the interaction between the body and the hand, with each playing a role in supporting the other. If we go way back into the book, we’ll recall the great quote from the Greek thinker, Archimedes, who, when talking about the power of levers, said: “Give me a place to stand and I will move the Earth.”
In swimming, that place to stand is the anchor created by your hips in the water and what it allows you to move is your body. To create a mental image of this, it can be helpful to think of an environment that is truly free of gravity — a spaceship. We’ve all seen video of astronauts or cosmonauts, flailing about the bay of their ship, only able to move in a given direction by pushing off a fixed object, generally the wall of the cabin.
|Click on the image to enlarge
The reason they can’t move without the assistance of a fixed object is that in a truly gravity-free environment, there is no support. Without a reliable source of support, there is simply nothing against which we can apply the energy of our body mass, no way to generate forward momentum.
While we tend to think of water as being almost like outer space in regard to its ability to diminish the effects of gravity, we have already demonstrated that gravity is in fact hard at work when we’re in the pool or the ocean. But it is this phenomenon of reduced effects of gravity that makes it vital that we are as efficient as humanly possible in establishing — and working against — support in the water.
What Your Hips Really Do In Swimming
This is where the hips come in. It is a common misperception that the hips are the source of power in swimming. The thinking holds that the drive of the hips as they rotate from side to side generates the power that pulls the arm backward and moves the body forward. There most certainly is a vital interrelationship between the arms and the hips, but that’s not it.
As we discussed in the last chapter, when the active hand finishes its work under the general center of mass of the body, it begins to unweigh and lift out of the water. In turn, this causes the weight to come off the anchored hip and transfer to the opposite hip. The quicker this weight transfer takes place, the sooner the next hand can begin its work.
The key is that the hip must be set in place to provide the support against which the hand will work. Once the hip is ‘set,’ the hand can then establish its own support in the water to apply the weight of the body. This establishes a relationship between the floating support of the hip and the active/moving support of the hand onto which the body weight is being transferred.
It is in this relationship where our ability to swim fast and efficiently is developed.
As it is with all other sports, in swimming we are only as strong as our ability to use our body weight. The hand enters the water and actually exits the water ahead of where it entered, but it is the ability to move the body relative to the hand that makes for fast and efficient swimming. The interaction between the use of the hand as support to move the body, and the use of the body as support to move the hand, is the true demonstration of the skill of swimming.
The skill of any movement is the skill of shifting the body weight from one support to the other. What we feel is the pull of the hand toward the body and the shift of our weight to the other side. But what really happens is that — balanced on the support of the hand — we lift the body past the hand. During the pull, the hand/arm serves as a support for the body and the body as a support for the hand/arm to pull toward. It is a mutual relationship — neither one can do its work without the other.
The Force Moment
This mutual relationship leads to the force moment in swimming, the instant when you apply the maximum force possible in your stroke. With the hip and the hand locked into support, the weight of the upper torso begins its pass over the support hand. As it passes, the energy of that weight is pushed down on the hand, driving the swimmer forward. It is exactly the same phenomenon as in cycling when the foot passes through the three o’clock position.
To get a clear picture of how closely the swimming stroke resembles the cycling stroke, visualize the ‘clock’ of the cycling stroke, where the foot at the top of the stroke is said to be in the 12 o’clock position. In swimming, the point where the active hand first makes contact with the water correlates exactly — that is the 12 o’clock position for the swimming stroke. As the hand presses down and the weight of the upper torso is transferred onto the support of that hand, the hand passes from two o’clock through four o’clock, with the position of force moment peaking at three o’clock.
By the time the hand is at six o’clock, the weight of the body has passed the hand, which can then no longer provide support. The hand is no longer ‘loaded’ and it is important to quickly transfer the body weight to the next hand…again, just like in cycling. At this point, any effort to push back toward the hip is wasted effort and only serves to delay the transfer of support to the other hand.
|Dr.Romanov and Arturo Garza
Channeling Body Weight
So the strength of our swimming comes not from the strength of an independently ‘pulling’ arm, but instead from the swimmer’s ability to channel the body weight through the arm and hand, transmitting that potential energy as completely as possible. Without the strength and the skill to channel the energy, the swimmer will use a smaller percentage of the body weight as a power source and consequently swim slower.
The power source boils down to the communicative abilities of the arm and the body, which must work together as a single unit to achieve the best results. It is not a case of strong arms dragging the body along, but instead a case of a strong framework being established between the body and the arms that allows the body to pass most quickly through the water. Paramount in this is the swimmer’s own perception of what is happening, as the weight is transferred to the hand and his concentration to make the most of that relationship with every single stroke at the peak force moment.
This relationship and the ability to maintain it, is the key to an efficient and powerful swim stroke. The extent to which the arm is able to move the body weight or become a spring for the body, determines the efficiency of the stroke. The better you can channel your body weight and its power through the arm, the more efficient your swim stroke will be.
How much of your own body weight do you think you are channeling through the connection between your arm and your body? Most of us don’t have the skill to perceive this. In Pose Swimming we learn how to manage our own body weight by heightening our perception of feeling it and then transferring it to the next support.