WHO REMEMBERS LEARNING TO RIDE A BICYCLE …?
THAT FIRST TIME- JUST YOU ON TWO WHEELS
A BALANCING ACT, NO LESS!
Just guessing… but there were probably a few scary moments, wobbles, skids, crashes, bumps, or bruises?
Macavity might mysteriously manage it, but most of us can’t defy – OR IGNORE – the laws of Gravity.
LIKE ME YOU WILL HAVE WATCHED YOUR LITTLE AQUANAUTS’ FIRST ATTEMPTS AT A MUSHROOM FLOAT OR WHEN THEY TRY CHANGING SHAPE FROM A STAR FLOAT TO A NARROW ‘PENCIL’ FLOAT THE FIRST TIME.
We can sometimes forget that it can actually be a bit scary.
We see a few ‘bug outs’ at first, and then as they get more confident and relaxed with their floats we see little twitches, kicks, wobbles and readjustments.
Those little twitches, kicks and wobbles are mostly re-balancing movements.
It always reminds me of watching someone learning to ride a bike.
AS SOON AS WE ‘GO HORIZONTAL’ IN THE WATER, EVERYTHING CHANGES WITH OUR BALANCE AND CONTROL.
IT’S ALMOST AS IF WE ARE IN A DIFFERENT DIMENSION!!
Our little aquanauts are simply trying to STABILISE  their floating and horizontal body position. When they lose that stability or balance, it can feel as if they are going to flip or tip over – or sink.
What would you do?
It’s a familiar sensation in a relatively unfamiliar environment.
This is STATIC BALANCE. In other words, we are STATIONARY, we’re not going anywhere. Like standing on one leg.
If you think about it, our response is very similar, any time we lose our balance. Arms and legs twitch or fly out, heads lift and twist as we try to regain control, and avoid colliding with the hard ground at all costs if we can.
NOW fast forward to when your little aquanauts are trying their first STREAMLINED PUSH AND GLIDE with arms extended to the front.
HOW MANY find themselves ‘ROLLING OVER’, spread their arms and legs out wider or put their feet back down, long before they run out of breath?
The roll or tip-over comes mostly from trying to balance along their centre line or longitudinal  balance line. This runs from the centre top of our head along the spine and to the tips of our toes.
See Joining Up the Dots.
Think of a gymnast lying on a balance beam or a baby rolling from front to back and back onto their front again.
We call this sort of rotation, ‘log rolls’ or ‘pencil rolls’- and that’s a good way of getting the idea across.
We have to find a way of controlling that rolling action if we want to stay on our front or back.
This is a balancing act on the move – DYNAMIC BALANCE.
Swimmers on the move, like cyclists, tend to travel forwards. Front ‘end’ and back ‘end’ in line, balanced and keeping to a more or less straight line
Pushing on through the water is harder than pushing through air of course.
But both swimmers and cyclists know full well the importance of STREAMLINING and PROPULSION if they want to be more efficient and effective.
Moving forward, for the cyclist the legs do the heavy work – arms and hands are sort of secondary.
For the swimmer, arms and hands do the heavy work; legs are in the mix, but mostly just to provide better balance and support for ‘putting down’ the power.
For swimmers and cyclists, the name of this game is “Minimise resistance – maximise propulsion” but above all…stay balanced and in control.
FAST FORWARD AGAIN AS OUR YOUNG SWIMMERS BEGIN TO USE THEIR ARMS AND LEGS TO ‘SWIM’.
THEY CAN STILL LOSE THEIR BALANCE.
THEY CAN STILL ‘FALL OFF THEIR BIKE’.
See Part Two: When Swimmers Fall off Their Bike.
That’s what stabilisers do on toddlers trainer bikes. Lots now have no stabilisers and no pedals. They are training their sense of balance, CENTRE OF GRAVITY, going in a straight line on two wheels and leg power all at once. How good is that?
Referred to in the textbooks as the ‘LONG AXIS’. There is of course a SHORT AXIS too, roughly around the waist Also see JOIN UP THE DOTS where I also talk about Core Stability.