Lesson Series August 2019

Forums Personal Discussion Zone TC.Kwong Discussion Zone Lesson Series August 2019

Please type your comments directly in the reply box - DO NOT copy/paste text from somewhere else into the reply boxes - this will also copy the code behind your copied text and publish that with your reply, making it impossible to read.  Our apology for the inconvenience, but we don't see a convenient way of fixing this yet.

Viewing 7 posts - 1 through 7 (of 7 total)
  • Author
  • #24713
    Mat Hudson

    First Session – August 12

    Hello Tom & Chia (Connie),

    It was a pleasure to begin working with you today at MJCC.

    You came with a request to learn how to add breathing to your stroke. I explained how breathing is an advanced skill because easier breathing depends the fundamental stroke skills being firmly in place. So I took a moment to review your strokes and see what parts of that we could improve, to prepare you for the main breathing lessons we will do. You clearly had some TI lessons and have been practicing. Your body alignment, streamline and arm switch timing showed me you knew what to do. And I observed some things we should work on to get you into better position for breathing.

    In particular, the action of rhythmic breathing in freestyle depends on holding a long, straight, stretching Skate Position (stretched but not strained), and holding it for the entire breathing action, from turn to return of head to face-down position. So we worked on improving some details with your Skate Position.

    Drills We Used:

    • Standing rehearsal for Skate
    • Standing rehearsal for Superman
    • Deadman Float
    • Superman Glide
    • Superman to Skate
    • 1-Arm Swimming (with rubber donut in hand)
    • Superman plus a few whole strokes
    • Rehearsal for nasal exhale and turning head to air
    • Superman to Interrupted Breathing

    I also introduced you to the Interrupted Breathing Position which may be very helpful in your pool practice time and prepare you for Rhythmic Breathing in the following lessons.

    Focal Points

    • Weightless Head (keeping head in neutral position at surface)
    • Reach with the shoulder (feel stretch down to the pelvis)
    • Tippy Toes (feel stretch down abdomen and into thighs)
    • Hands at Target (poking into layer of water just below the body’s layer)
    • Turn head with turn of the torso (hip and head together)
    • Keep reaching with lead arm while turning/returning the head
    • Keep small stream of bubbles coming from the nose (while turning the head)
    • Only empty about 1/3 to 1/2 of lung volume

    Below I am adding some notes that I give to students as we go through the fundamental skills. These will give you another perspective on how we image the stroke to come together, leading up to better breathing.


    Welcome to our Freestyle Lesson Series

    To review the concepts we are working with in this lesson series you may view our Freestyle Lesson Series Overview and the article Four Essential Features, where the skill objectives for each lesson are explained.

    In our first lesson we have worked on those first two of those Four Essential Features. You may review these to understand more about our first lesson and prepare for those to come:



    You may view the outline for our first Balance and Streamline Lessons, which list the skills, the drills and the focal points we used in our lesson together.


    Practice Guide

    You may view the Practice Plan for Balance and Streamline for some guidance on how to work on these skills on your own before our next session.


    Some Additional Reading

    Below are some links to articles in our library that may help you. And, I do hope you will take advantage of this discussion zone to ask me specific questions about what and how to practice. This space is meant to support you in your personal training time.

    You may review our introduction to the Balance Streamline Propulsion Pyramid. You’ll use this BSP organization to help you set priorities in your skill learning process.

    A central feature of our Total Immersion method is our use of Focal Points to create a super-learning situation for your brain. You may review our introduction to Focal Points.

    As you do your personal practice between our live sessions, you may appreciate some guidance on how to organize your efforts. You may read How To Practice.

    I did not mention this in the lesson, but you might enjoy using short swim fins to assist while working in the drills. You may read some thoughts on this in the article Should I Use Fins? Now you can do drills the full length of the pool, without stopping and you may breathe as you please.

    And, as you consider how much drills versus how much whole stroke you may do in your personal practice time you may view Transition From Drills To Whole Stroke. If you are feeling some tension between your need for drill work and your need to maintain fitness you may view Focal Point Swimming for some suggestions on how to balance those.


    Mat Hudson

    Second Session – August 13

    Today we made some more very good progress on breathing.

    Drills Used:

    • Superman to Skate
    • 3 Strokes to Skate
    • Standing Rehearsal for turning the head to air

    Focal Points

    • Hand at the (deeper) target
    • Turn head on shishkabob axis
    • Keep head flat (while turning to air)
    • Tilt side of head ‘downhill’ (to make it more flat)
    • Head turns immediately as catch hand begins to pull
    • Use the torque of the torso to turn head sooner, a bit more quickly
    • Turn toward air ASAP!
    • Squeeze air from diaphragm
    • Clear the airway (like dolphins!) as face breaks the surface
    • Take a quick sip of air
    • Return head to face-down position quickly (but not whiplash speed!)

    Below I am adding the notes I give to students once we have gotten to Rhythmic Breathing, after working through the fundamental strokes skills…


    Rhythmic Breathing Lesson


    In today’s lesson we worked on Rhythmic Breathing which depends on the Four Essential Features of the freestyle stroke. You may read the introduction for Rhythmic Breathing.


    Lesson Outline

    You may view the outline for our third Rhythmic Breathing Lesson, which list the skills, the drills and the focal points we used in our lesson together.


    Practice Guide

    You may view the Practice Plan for Rhythmic Breathing for some guidance on how to work on these skills on your own before our next session.

    Mat Hudson

    Third Session – August 14

    In today’s lesson we worked on underwater Catch (a.k.a the underwater pull) as a bonus to the Four Essential Features of the freestyle stroke. After spending some time working on the catch, we applied those skills on Rhythmic Breathing for the end of this lesson.

    You may read the introduction for the Catch and Hold.


    Lesson Outline

    You may view the outline for our fourth lesson on the Catch and Hold, which list the skills, the drills and the focal points we used in our lesson together.


    Practice Guide

    You may view the Practice Plan for Catch and Hold for some guidance on how to work on these skills on your own.

    Mat Hudson

    Fourth Session – August 15

    In this final session, we took our time to reinforce the skills we’ve already introduced and help bring those together to improve your breathing action.

    Sequence Of Skills

    The main skills we introduced in this lesson series:

    1. Improving the ‘torpedo frame’ of the body
    2. Improving the length and stability of Skate Position
    3. Improving the torque of the catch and torso rotation
    4. Improving the breathing action (turn and return of the head)
    5. Improving the air management

    You may look the notes above and the additional lesson outlines to review the focal points for each of these skills.

    Stages Of Challenge

    There are stages you can work through to increase the challenge for your skill:

    1. short series of strokes with no breathing (just work on stroke skills)
    2. short series of strokes with just one turn to air
    3. short series of strokes with a couple turns to air
    4. a longer series of strokes alternating between Rhythmic Breathing and Interrupted Breathing
    5. a longer series of strokes with just Rhythmic Breathing

    Sequence Of Drills

    There are drills you can work through, of increasing level of complexity:


    And, you may appreciate watching these videos on the Video Tutorial page.

    How To Form The Catch and Increase Power
    Improving the Timing of the Breath in Freestyle
    Maintaining the Elbow Orientation in Freestyle
    Though we did not have time to do a lesson on the recovery swing, we did talk about it briefly. I want to share the notes I give after a lesson on the recovery swing in case you want to work on that on your own.


    Recovery Swing

    In this second lesson we continued working our way through the Four Essential Features, in the freestyle stroke.

    We focused on the next two features:



    You may view the outline for our second lesson on Recovery Swing, which list the skills, the drills and the focal points we used in our lesson together.


    Practice Guide

    You may view the Practice Plan for Recovery Swing for some guidance on how to work on these skills on your own before our next session.

    Tom & Chia Kwong
    This reply has been marked as private.
    Mat Hudson

    It was a pleasure and honor to help you with these skills!

    Which Practices To Follow?

    I gave you those specific (personal) practice outlines to go with the particular lessons we did, which could guide you while reviewing the skills and drills of our lessons.

    However, you may appreciate taking some weeks to gradually work through the sequence of Practice Guides for the freestyle lessons, since I shared the notes for the Freestyle Technique lesson series. You could do 2x to 4x for each of those lessons to review and reinforce the fundamental freestyle skills, which are the foundation for breathing easier.

    Interrupted Breathing To Skate

    One of the particular objectives of using Interrupted Breathing in your drill work is that it requires you to maintain a stretched, straight spine line before you turn, as you turn, while on your back, while you turn back, and then finish in Skate. Something in your frame is collapsing either just before or while you are turning, so that when your body turns over into Skate you feel the lower body sinking.

    Make sure to keep the head deep in the water.

    Keep the spine extended slightly while on your back and while turning back to Skate.

    You will need to flutter with the feet (as if fluttering with the feet, with long fairly straight but flexible legs) to help hold the legs up near the surface while on your back, and use a twist of the feet to help you turn the torso.

    After you turn back to Skate, get the head into neutral position ASAP, and keep that body line stretched (tippy toes).

    More soon… got to board my flight now…

    Mat Hudson

    Fish Hook Mouth on Breathing

    The ‘ideal’ breathing position for the face is with a head deep in the water and the most minimal amount of the side of the face touching the air, and the side of the mouth reaching and opening like a hooked fish.

    However, think of this as something you work towards gradually, as your skills increase and your brain gains confidence that air can be find in a smaller space, in a more brief amount of time.

    You need to turn toward the air far enough that you can get your mouth and nose clear enough so that you don’t take in air. And you need to stay there long enough to get the replenishing sip your lungs require – but realize that the later you arrive at the air and the longer you stay there, the more disruptive it will be to your body position and your flow through the water.

    So, just aim for being a minimalist in breathing and over time, you’re brain will strip the action down, making it  more refined, minimal.

    Also, you need to work with the body you have – your respiration capacity is affected by age, your ability to get more satisfying breath in a limited moment of time. I think you should expect more of yourself because neurologically there is great room for improvement in all of us and you certainly are not at your cardio fitness potential, but be patient with the process of getting there because the vascular system doesn’t develop as quickly or as far as the neural system can go in older age.

    Dragonfly Fingers

    Dragonfly Fingertips refers to the position of the fingers while the arm swings forward on the recovery. The fingertips should stay low and possibly brush the surface of the water – this is intended to help you keep the hand low and the elbow high during the swing. As the hand passes the ear, it should start to surrender to the pull of gravity and start slipping in the water. That hand and forearm should be eager to get back down into the water and extend forward where the work begins for parting water molecules.


    Video Tutorials


    101 Focal Points


    If you recall where, please send me the URL of the page where you find these broken links I can more easily find them and check.
Viewing 7 posts - 1 through 7 (of 7 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.