SwimLabs Issaquah Swimming Blog

Issaquah – (January 27, 2016)

Since the grand opening of SwimLabsNW in June 2015 we have had an opportunity to see a lot of underwater stroke videos of adults and kids for analysis from a variety of angles. This unique rich data allows us to analyze, hypothesize and see trends and themes that others might not get to see. One common theme we see repeated over again is too much drag from inefficient body position.

At SwimLabsNW we talk about swimming technique from two aspects a) propulsion – forces moving the body forward in water and b) drag/resistance – forces slowing the body down in water. We often look at drag first because it does not make sense to put a bigger better engine into a dump truck. One of the biggest factors we’ve seen in drag forces that needs work is head position. A human head weighs about as much as a bowling ball (8-12 lbs), and while being the lead part of a swimmer in the water, the head generates bow wave drag and can make a swimmer more inefficient if the head is lifted out of the water at inappropriate times. One reason submarines are actually faster underwater becuase they have the bow wave drag forces being applied at the surface. Inefficient head position causes drag in two ways a) wave drag – if you lift your head too high a large wave in front of it causes large wave drag and b) form or frontal drag – we have seen evidence in videos that lifting your head often leads to arching the back and lower hip position in the water causing less streamline and more drag. In our experience, this means that a proper head position can greatly reduce drag.

Proper head position boils down to proper posture; keeping your head in line with your spine. Keeping a straight spine and head helps to create a horizontal line in the swimmer’s body, allowing said swimmer to move in a straight line (the fastest path from one end of the pool to the other). To figure out what posture feels like, go stand sideways in front of a mirror and then roll your shoulders back… then down (if your back is arched, you may be trying too hard). This position may feel awkward to some, and perfectly normal to others, but is necessary for swimming fast and efficiently in all four strokes.

Beyond drag reduction, good head position can even make the propulsive aspects of the stroke even more effective. Proper posture also allows for better range of motion (mobility) in joints, allowing a swimmer to move more freely through the water and adapt more quickly to the fluid environment around them. This means that no matter if you’re at the front of the pack, cutting through glass, or in the back and sitting in the chop, you’ll be more ready to handle whatever lies ahead.

If you want to swim fast more easily, go check out your posture in the mirror and get a good feel for what a truly straight spine and neck look like, and then be sure to look at the mirror on the bottom of our pools when you stop by SwimLabsNW for your next stroke analysis and lesson.


Issaquah  – (March 4, 2015):  With the arrival of SwimLabs in Issaquah, Washington in early May 2015, becoming a safer and faster swimmer just got a whole lot easier. SwimLabs Issaquah, owned and operated by former Olympian Chris Chalmers and Northwest native Andy Hill, promises to provide a unique swimming environment for swimmers of all ages. From learn-to-swim to Olympians, and everything in between, SwimLabs Issaquah is changing the current of the Swim School world.

Relying on the controlled environment of warm constant current pools, SwimLabs Issaquah employs certified adult coaches who are never more than a few feet away from clientele. This ideal setting is fortified with the latest in high-tech swimming software, which trained instructors use to provide instant feedback to swimmers of all ages.  The result of this unique swim school is that SwimLabs’ students learn water safety and improved stroke techniques in less time than with traditional methods. SwimLabs Issaquah’s proven progression provides both learn-to-swim and competitive clients the proper foundational mechanics to be successful at any level of the sport. Whether a learn-to-swim client wants to become safer and more comfortable in the water, or a competitive client wants to qualify for the next big meet, SwimLabs’ proven techniques, training and facility will get them there faster.

SwimLabs is for swimmers of every level and ability, and this breadth of clientele is what prompted owners Chris Chalmers and Andy Hill to open SwimLabs Issaquah. Chris’s passion for swimming is rooted in the technical side of the sport. Raised in London, Canada, Chris’s passion for the sport took him from a 16 year-old Olympic Trial Qualifier to a 16th place finisher in the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. In between these career landmarks, Chris competed at the Common Wealth Games in Scotland and the Pan Pacific Championships in Japan. Andy, meanwhile, has an adventurous and outdoor passion for the sport. Growing up in the Northwest, Andy’s admiration for swimming is rooted in his love for the areas’ waterways and mountains. If up early enough, one can spot Andy breaking the crystal surfaces of lakes in Glacier National Park, and gliding through the fog of Puget Sound’s passageways.

The swimming backgrounds of both Chris and Andy are compounded with their love of family and community. Chris, a father of three girls, was brought to Issaquah through his wife’s extended family in the Seattle and Bellevue area. His three girls keep him busy to say the least, as Chris spends time shuttling them between swimming, soccer and softball; all while officiating and timing local swim meets. Andy, a father of a rambunctious kindergartener, has lived in Issaquah for over 20 years. When asked about his new business he says, “I’m proud to be opening a family business in my home city. Bringing the safety and benefit of swimming to children and friends has always been a passion of mine, and I’m thrilled about that opportunity in this great community!”

Opening in early May, SwimLabs Issaquah will utilize the latest in computer software and video technology to provide immediate feedback for its students. When asked about the importance of this technology Chris beams. “The video imagery and SwimLabs’ powerful Dartfish software, the same software used by the Olympic Training Center, can be used to instantly compare clients’ strokes to one that exhibits ‘flawless’ technique.” That’s just the start though, as Andy is quick to point out that the software is equally effective for learn-to-swim clients. “When a toddler gets in the pool and sees himself or herself on the monitors, he or she quickly internalizes what is being taught, and becomes a stronger swimmer faster.”

It is this kind of technology and pedagogical approach to swimming that makes SwimLabs Issaquah unique and a must try. Come into the location and you will see warm constant current pools, a comfortable waiting area overlooking the water, retail area, and a menu of instructional programs for swimmers of every age and ability—from youngsters to adults. To start, though, book group, semi-private or private lessons by visiting SwimLabs Issaquah’s website at www.swimlabsnw.com or by calling 425-654-0910.

Learning to Float

Learning to float is the first real swimming skill that any swim program addresses. It is one of the most fundamental skills to master and build upon, all the way up through elite competitive swimming. Back floats are also one of the first survival skills for kids to master, to help manage any water crisis. This means that bath time is more helpful as a foundation for learning to swim than most parents may realize. A swimmer’s comfort in the water, on their back, getting eyes and ears wet, is all integral to teaching a beginning swimmer how to float, and eventually swim. A swimmer that can’t get their ears in the water, can’t get their body flat, and then can’t float. After our instructors help swimmers get comfortable with bubbles, kicking, and rudimentary arm pulls, the back float is the next hurdle to overcome. To help your child surmount this hurdle, try turning bath time into games where they get their head and face wet, learning to be comfortable with getting their ears wet. As silly as it sounds, another helpful skill for comfort with water on a swimmer’s face, is to learn to squirt water out of the mouth. This skill helps kids understand what to do when water slips or splashes into their mouth during float time, and prevents many more of the choking and coughing situations that can cause a negative experience for a new swimmer. Floating on the back, squirting water, and bath time are all ways to help your child learn to swim. Conveniently, SwimLabs NW has warm pools that aren’t much deeper... read more

Grand Opening!

SwimLabs Swim School Grand Opening Saturday, June 13th from 10:00am-2:00pm Join SwimLabs and Issaquah Mayor, Fred Butler for a ribbon cutting ceremony at 11:00am and then stick around to meet 2-time Olympic gold medalist Mary Wayte Bradburne, Olympic gold and silver medalist Tom Malchow, Olympic gold and bronze medalist Wendy Boglioli, 2-time Olympic silver and bronze medalist Margaret Hoelzer, and Olympic bronze medalist Rick... read more
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