Understanding Physics and Swimming with Team USA Swim High Performance Consultant Russell Mark

Russell Mark is a high performance consultant to the US national swimming team.He is a consultant for the development of team USA Olympic swimmers, working directly with them and their respective coaches, providing training feedback and careers and steps to improve.

For nearly the last 10 years, Russell Mark has studied countless hours of film and discussed technique with the world’s best coaches and swimmers in order to understand the complexities of all strokes. With this knowledge, he has worked directly to assist the US National Team, given hundreds of lectures on swimming technique, and contributed to many books and research articles.

While swimming at the University of Virginia, Mark graduated from aerospace engineering. He then pursued a career in engineering, working briefly on Pratt & Whitney’s experimental military jet engine programs. This unlikely career has served Mark well in the world of swimming, using his knowledge of physics, fluid dynamics, and engineering to identify and assess what makes swimmers the fastest.

Q. It seems such a diverse background to your current position, could you explain the synergies between your previous studies and profession and your current job?

A. Actually, everything went quite well. My college swimming experience and my aerospace engineering degree were the perfect tools for me to keep a passion for professional swimming in my life and bring real value to help the USA swim team, it could be say it’s my dream job. There is more physics involved in swimming than I think people realize and my education provided a knowledge base for viewing our athletes’ movies in a different light. I analyze the mechanics and forces to give our swimmers the best opportunity to perform at their optimal human level.

Q. What is your overall impression of USA Swimming from the 2012 London Olympics?

A. It was a tremendous Olympiad in London for Team USA, not only did we achieve our goals, but we had a diverse group of medal winners, young and old, and we feel like we have a good collection of swimmers for the future. .

Q. Training or Race Day, which one do you prefer?

A. For me, it’s all about the journey. The film analysis, preparation, training, and thought process that are required build up to race day – or the results of everyone’s hard work!

Q. Could you explain some of the technologies that the US swim team uses in training? Which gadget, app, or tech gadget do you think provides the most important information for your swimmers to analyze?

A. The technology is pretty simple for US team swimming, our most effective devices include underwater video recording with waterproof camcorders, our Ipad for video analysis and pace clock. We have recently developed software that tracks and stores stroke count and tempo or frequency to analyze our athletes. Below is an example of a Missy Franklin race chart using our London 2012 Olympics Race Stats software.

Q. For the novice swimmer looking to improve their performance, is there a consumer fitness device or app that you would recommend?

A. If you have the capabilities, I would definitely suggest an underwater camera, but I know it is not available to everyone. A pace clock would be a good start for anyone looking to improve their speed, endurance, and track interval times. There are a couple of tools that I will mention in detail later that can be used to work on technique, but they are not based on technology, such as a snorkel and fins.

Q. What awaits USA Swimming and the 2016 Olympics?

A. USA Swimming is very exciting and interesting, there have been many cases in the tests when a (publicly) unknown individual comes out of the dark and surprises even the field. We are very confident in our young swimmers for the London Olympics going forward and we have one of the best youth programs in swimming.

Q. Any basic swim technique tricks from an Olympian you can share with our readers looking for that little extra edge or just starting to swim?

A. The position of the head and body is the basis of swimming; I’d hone those techniques before moving into swimming. Some of the recommended tools I would suggest are fins (keeps your legs up and increases strength) and a snorkel (head down). When the head is raised to breathe, above the water, the hips and legs move downward and begin to crawl and slow down. To become a good swimmer, it is important to work on your breathing technique. Use a snorkel every now and then to improve your style without having to focus on breathing technique. exercises to lengthen the amount of time you can keep your head submerged and your body working. Everything in swimming happens underwater; Once you begin to get comfortable with these basic techniques, you can start thinking about technicalities with pace tracking and video commentary.

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