ISCA Coach Education Program

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Butterfly with Hand Paddles

This interview is an interview with Thiago Telles. Thiago has a great background in swimming with swimming and research and is applying his practical knowledge towards swimming research (see his research here). This interview mainly discusses his work on hand paddles and parachutes in butterfly (see here for the article).

1. Please introduce yourself to the readers (how you started in the profession, education, credentials, experience, etc.).

I started on swimming in my childhood in Brazil, I was swimmer for some years on my teenager and after that, I decided to go forward and study it for my professional life. In the college I knew the biomechanics and thought why don’t I use both together? At the same time, I was invited to assume a job of coach assistant in my hometown swim club. For some years I have had hard work in both sides: academic and swim club. I had a biomechanics course, master and doctor; and in the swim team I became coach, head coach and director of the entire team. At one point, I had to choose between the swim team and the academic life and I decided to dedicate my life to my passion about academic works.

2. You recently published an article on the effects of paddles and parachutes in butterfly. First, what characteristics make an elite butterfly swimmers?

Actually in swimming it is too easy to separate the elite swimmers and the non-elite swimmers: the time. If the swimmer is capable to swim fast or not. But we might separate some skills that they must know how to perform. In my opinion, the first thing is about the undulation. They must know how to use it. After that, the coordination is also important: two leg kicks for each stroke. The relationship between the head and the hip along the undulation and the head recovery before the arms recovery in the breathing. But all these things depends directly in which amount of water the swimmer can move in each stroke. Others skills on the start, and a lot of details on the turn are also required to the high level.

3. What do we know about paddles and parachutes in freestyle swimming?

In the “academic world” there are several studies using front crawl with hand paddles and it is a little bit smaller using parachutes. The hand paddles increases the hand surface, so the swimmer is capable to move more amount of water in each stroke; to it, they must perform more strength in each stroke. It increases the size of each stroke and decreases the number of strokes to cover the same distance. Some studies shows that the direction of the strength application with hand can change in a good way, and the electromyography activity is similar with and without hand paddles. On the other hand, the parachutes increases the total drag. It increases the total resistance to be overcame by the swimmers. It also can change the hand trajectory. Both changes the coordination in front crawl, they induces the swimmers to keep the propulsive continuity.

4. What do we know about these resistance devices in other strokes?

We know that these implements also modified the front crawl coordination. It became better when the same gear sizes were used.

5. What did your study look at?

My study have tried to understand how the overload might change the coordination during their use. And after the results, we have tried to suggest some useful ways to put it on the training.

6. What were the results of your study?

We found that some conditions (using implements) improved the coordination on butterfly swimming.

7. What were the practical implications for coaches and swimmers from your study?

We have showed which experimental conditions are better to use and which is not for the overloaded butterfly training.

8. Do you think the results would be different if you had older, elite or untrained swimmers?

Yes, for sure. The coordination changes with gender, age, skill level and velocity (and distance).

9. What does the research suggest about the power rack or power tower and swimming (free and any other strokes)?

These devices can be other options to be used for the overload on swimming. My main concern about these devices are the displacement on the swimming pool, the load should be accordingly with the swimmer, and have to allow the swimmer to move along the pool. They can’t be swimming on the spot. But I’m unaware about scientific researchers using it.

10. How much resistance with a parachute or how large of paddles should a swimmer wear? Does that depend on their speed, if so how can you figure an appropriate application?

It is a good question and a hard task. The coaches have to know that only swimmers with a good technique should use these implements. In addition, the coaches have to balance stroke rate and strength application by the swimmers. This way, they must swimming in almost the same way without gears. If they improve velocity, they will have to put more strength in each stroke.

11. What makes your research on butterfly with hand paddles and parachutes different from others?

Our research was the first one to analyze butterfly with hand paddles and parachutes.

12. Which teachers have most influenced your research?

My Professor guide in Brazil was my main inspiration to do that and, on the other way, the lack of information about the use the implements by the teachers (actually coaches) in Brazil have inspired me a lot. It is good to contribute a little beat to improve the Brazilian swimmers training.

13. What areas of swimming research still need investigating?

When we put the implements on the spot, many things still need to be investigated, but for it, the researchers have to understand which the main concerns of the coaches are. The first step was the behavior with the implements, and now on the task is understand exactly how and why all this things have happened.

14. How would you implement parachutes and hand paddles for a fully developed elite 20-year-old swimmer?

They have to be adapted to use it and they have to put all the steps on a training program (almost like on the gym). The first step is the body’s preparation, they can use little load during big times in slow velocities (small rest times). After that, is possible to improve velocity and decrease the volume (rest time accordingly to the specialty of the swimmer), and the last step is to increase the overload (or the coaches can to that in each step before move to the next).

15. At what age do you feel these external aides can be used?

My suggest is to use it for high-level swimmers since 15, but the coaches have to use the right overload sizes, exposition time and set purpose.

16. What research or projects are you currently working on or should we look from you in the future?

Other studies evaluating resisted swimming with others kinds of implements, sizes of them and others perspectives (other methods) of evaluating will help the coaches to improve their training. I am already working on that and they will be soon be online.

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