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Breakthrough Swimming

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Never before has one book taken such a comprehensive look at the evolution, science, and coaching application of competitive swimming. In Breakthrough Swimming, legendary swimming coach and researcher Cecil Colwin provides a rich perspective on the development of the sport and explains major advances in stroke mechanics, training methods, and racing techniques.

Accompanied by richly detailed illustrations, this engaging text is one of the most insightful written works on the ...

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Breakthrough Swimming

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Never before has one book taken such a comprehensive look at the evolution, science, and coaching application of competitive swimming. In Breakthrough Swimming, legendary swimming coach and researcher Cecil Colwin provides a rich perspective on the development of the sport and explains major advances in stroke mechanics, training methods, and racing techniques.

Accompanied by richly detailed illustrations, this engaging text is one of the most insightful written works on the sport. It makes clear sense out of the scientific principles and puts into context the historical changes in the sport. Not only will you gain a greater understanding of competitive swimming through its origins and evolution, but you'll also gain these valuable skills:

- Improve your stroke technique, starts, and turns.
- Improve your feel of the water by learning to anticipate and effectively manipulate the reacting flow of the water.
- Understand the hydrodynamics of swimming and learn how water reacts to the forces you apply with each swimming stroke.
- Improve your conditioning and develop a better training program by understanding the principles of training.
- Learn how to design different types of workouts to produce specific physiological effects.
- Learn how to plan a seasonal program and how to relate your training to the pace of the race you intend to swim.

The book includes a chapter contributed by Dr. David Pyne, sport physiologist to the 2000 Australian Olympic swimming team. Pyne covers the physiology of modern swimming training and the preparation of swimming teams for top-flight international competition.

Breakthrough Swimming covers every aspect of competitive swimming from its spawning ground in early 19th-century England to the present day, including the profound changes that occurred in the last decade of the 20th century. The book also explains the societal changes of recent years, such as the advent of professional swimming and the specter of performance-enhancing drugs.

Combining history with the latest innovations, Breakthrough Swimming is the definitive work on the past, present, and future of competitive swimming.

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What People Are Saying

Phillip Whitten
In Breakthrough Swimming, Cecil Colwin has called upon all of his years of experience as a coach, teacher, historian, scientific analyst, writer and iconoclast to create a brilliant, comprehensive and eminently readable work of art. Colwin's unique insights make this book an absolute must-read for every serious swimmer, coach, and lover of the sport.

Breakthrough Swimming has reconfirmed Colwin as the dean of the world's swimming scholars.
— Phillip Whitten, Editor-in-Chief Sports Publications, Inc.

John Leonard
Cecil Colwin continues his major contributions to the thought processes of swimming in a fascinating book that gives meaning and relevance to a mountain of information.
— John Leonard, Executive Director, American Swimming Coaches' Association Editor, American Swimming Magazine
Paul Bergen
What a marvelous undertaking! Readers can use as much or as little of the information as one would want; those just beginning their careers can gain enough relevant data to get started on a correct course, while seasoned coaches and swimmers will certainly be challenged by the book's in-depth information.
— Paul Bergen, Member of the International Hall of Fame, Has coached 10 swimmers to 22 world records
Murray Stephens
Like Counsilman's The Science of Swimming, Colwin's Breakthrough Swimming serves as a comprehensive technical manual on competitive strokes and training, and is certain to stimulate creative thinking on the part of novice and veteran coaches alike.
— Murray Stephens, Director, North Baltimore Aquatic Club, USA Olympic Coach
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780736037778
  • Publisher: Human Kinetics Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/20/2002
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 262
  • Sales rank: 1,227,139
  • Product dimensions: 8.54 (w) x 10.88 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Meet the Author

Cecil M. Colwin, who passed away in summer 2012, is a legend among swimming coaches. He had a distinguished international coaching career in which he developed Olympic medalists, world-record holders, and national champions. Colwin is also acknowledged as one of the swimming world's most influential coach educators and historians. His indelible mark on the sport spans from pioneering swim training in South Africa to coaching Canadian national and international competitors.

A former national technical director of Canadian swimming, Colwin was instrumental in researching, designing, and implementing Canadian Swimming's National Plan for the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games as well as the Canadian National Apprenticeship Program for training coaches in all sports. He also designed and conducted coaching certification courses for Level III coaches in the United States and Australia. In 1985 and 1986, he received the American Swimming Coaches Association's (ASCA) certificate of excellence for outstanding coaching achievement in the United States. In 1993 he was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

Colwin authored hundreds of articles, papers, and books on competitive swimming, and served as a consultant to administrators, coaches, and swimmers worldwide. He was a regular contributor to several swimming magazines, including Swimnews, Swimming World, Swimming Technique, and The American Swimmer. Known as one of the swimming world's most inspirational lecturers, he addressed the World Swimming Coaches' Conference on several occasions and gave hundreds of lectures and clinic presentations worldwide. Colwin was the founder of Cecil Colwin's International Swim Camps, a leading stroke clinic and training experience for swimmers and coaches from many countries.

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Table of Contents

Part I Development of Stroke Fundamentals
Chapter 1 History of the Swimming Strokes
Chapter 2 Breakthroughs in Stroke Techniques
Chapter 3 Strokes, Starts, and Turns

Part II Movement Through Water
Chapter 4 Understanding Hydrodynamics
Chapter 5 Propulsive Mechanisms of Speed Swimming
Chapter 6 Coaching a Feel for the Water

Part III Advances in Training
Chapter 7 Progression of Training Methods
Chapter 8 Principles of Modern Training
Chapter 9 Training Applications of New Research
Chapter 10 Development of a Training Program

Part IV Past, Present, and Future of the Sport
Chapter 11 Evolution of Competitive Swimming
Chapter 12 Doping, Testing, and Modern Efforts to Gain an Edge
Chapter 13 Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Appendix: A 400-Year Bibliography of the Historical Development of the Swimming Strokes

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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2002

    History, Hydrodynamics and Training

    The average swimming book prescribes stroke techniques, then offers a sample training routine. In 'Breakthrough Swimming', Cecil Colwin sets his stroke and training advice amid much firm background and some speculative discussion. Coach Colwin covers three subjects: History, Hydrodynamics and Training. The history is broken into two parts which begin and end the book. The first is a history of swim technique (sidestroke, trudgen, overarm, etc.) which leads to a description of the four current strokes. As in Swimming Dynamics, he illustrates a "typical" way of swimming each stroke even though he admits a wide range of technique possibilities. (Colwin is an excellent draughtsman, but there seems to be a drawing error: In the text and in his side view drawings of the crawl, he describes a full body rotation of 35 - 45 degrees each way as desirable. His front view, however, shows the swimmer almost dead flat throughout the crawl.) Continuing the exploration of hydrodynamics that he began in Swimming Dynamics, Colwin discusses the bow wave, lift, his vortex-shedding theories of propulsion, strategies of streamlining, using the hands to direct the water and many other ideas. In covering training, Colwin (and Pyne) offer the usual ideas of aerobic vs anaerobic, interval vs distance, etc. I find myself thinking of his section, "Development of the Will to Overcome Fatigue," as I swim. I realize that I have rarely reached Hurt, much less Agony or Pain since high school (at least not in the pool). The book ends with a history of competition that discusses rule changes, better pools, the World Cup tour (he's not impressed), national team vs club-based coaching, a chronicle of doping, fistgloves, the problems with bodysuits, a ranking of the stars of the 20th century and a look forward. I definitely found the book worth reading.

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