The High Performance Bodysurfing Project

While we love bodysurfing in real waves, the beach is not always the best training spot. Sometimes there are no waves at all or beaches crowded, leaving us land-locked for weeks on end.

Even when conditions are great, bodysurfing training in a pool should be part of your bodysurfing routine too. It allows you to train, experiment, work on form, and practice safety and fitness in a safe, controlled environment; plus, the conditions never change, so it’s easy to mark progress.

At LeblonFins High Performance Bodysurfing Project, we believe that specificity is the cornerstone of modern sports science.

One of the great challenges for sports professionals is to observe an athlete's performance and to deciding where a particular technique needs correction and how to improve it. In the ocean this challenge is even more complicated as generally most of a  bodysurfer´s body is covered by the wave's foam. We're working in a pool with top bodysurfers and swimmers to identify, acquire, improve, and automate the fundamental skills that come together in bodysurfing.

Detailed and immediate feedback from videoing movements eliminates the doubts and guessing that plague efforts to coach athletes in natural environments. And, of course, it save lots of time and energy to spend on specific training techniques, instead of using that energy crossing the surf repeatedly.

Our program uses a mixed modal training where we recreated the bodysurfing motor pattern and bring up several way to overload and refine it.  Also it target breath enhancement training (high CO2 tolerance, Hypoxic Threshold, Mammalian Dive Reflex and Heavy Lactic Acid levels). LeblonFins allows  us the accomplishment of specific drills in water that are hard to be performed with anyother gear. Works wonderfully to core, ankle and heel strengthening into the water. At the moment we are integrating the bellow activities into one structured and organized system.

  • Bodysurfing, finswimming, swimming techniques for speed, drive, thrust and drag management.
  • Underwater rugby, Brazilian underwater jiu-jitsu and underwater acrobatic for development of low oxygen/high CO2 level management and emotional balance training to improve time perception and bare with multi-wave hold downs, and the gnarly conditions that come with taking on big waves that the watermen and waterwomen may face when under wipeout pressure.
  • Falls Training: the principle of "mutual welfare and benefit" requires learning about break falls before start training on trampoline. Acrobatic sports teach how to land not how to fall. Most of the surfers just count on instinct and luck when fall of a big wave. Down here we make sure everyone knows or learn about break falls. Many have to go through the basics Judo break falls on mat (break falls, rolls, combined falls, etc). Together improve our ability to bear with the different phases of a real wipeout such the fall, the impact on the water and the after impact
  • Rescue, recovering a drowning victim techniques.

Several studies show that conditioning is best if it is specific for the techniques  of your sport. An example would be running does not really improve your swimming and swimming would not improve your running endurance. It helps, but not enough.

The program includes drills from the Militairy Water Competency Trainning that can be helpfull to build up our teammate confidency and comfort under risk situations (as during wipeout). Our training sessions occur under professional lifeguard supervision and medical response with lifesaving equipment, and 1 to 1 buddy ratio, that means one dive buddy per teammate conducting underwater risk training.

This program was created by LeblonFins founder, JSC Mauricio over decades of lessons learned as long time big wave bodysurfer and finswimmer, CMAS certified finswimming coach, former lifeguard, Underwater Rugby player, and black belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.

Deal with drag and energy consumption

Usually, bodysurfers deal with energy consumptions and drag during all phases of catching a wave and surfing its line by developing stronger kicks and strokes. Bigger lungs and muscles can be a partial solution, but fitness training only solves a small part of the problem. It’s not enough to bridge the gap in advantages that surfers and bodyboarders enjoy. This is where finswimming enters the picture.

Speed and Thrust

Finswimming it’s essentially considered the “Formula 1” of the swimming world. Traditional finswimmers use monofins, that don't lend themselves to bodysurfing practice. But it´s their undulatory body motion principle that has allowed our bodysurfers to reach fantastic speeds, 25m in 7.8 sec. We are bodysurfers, not finswimmers or free divers and so we don't use monofins. Instead we use a special bi-fins (Leblonfins) that can come close to the propulsion of a monofin.


Swim-Start

Swim-start on bodysurfing is the moment when preparation for take-off begins to the moment when the bodysurfing pattern begins. Bodysurfers can’t rely on the edge of the pool or starting blocks. Also, don't have a board to minimize drag. Speeding up from inertia is hard.

Bodysurfing swim-start and take-off expertise with LeblonFins is distinct from what is done with any other fins.That´s why a part of our swimming training is dedicated to perfecting entries into waves that help one develop “momentum.”

Setting yourself up for a perfect start is not easy, but practice will help you dramatically improve your technique and speed.

Swimming is now one of the most investigated physical activities. Based on the results of published research articles, the start time and turns on swimming competitions can account for up to 26% of the total race time. The contribution of the swim-start to overall bodysurfing performance is equally significant. Due to a bad swim-start, most of the bodysurfers stay locked into the foam.

Effective swim-start techniques enable bodysurfers to exploit its generated speed into the take-off and are in line with the principle of efficiency that drives every phase of bodysurfing the waves line.

Analysis determined that underwater body undulation and dolphin kick using LeblonFins in a streamlined body position It allows a very rapid acceleration from the inertia.

Breaking down a take-off into its component parts can be challenging as the phases are not always clear-cut. It can be defined as the moment when the head and arms break out the wave surface. Determining the end of the swim-start phase, during which bodysurfers need to accelerate as much as possible and travel the maximum distance at the high velocity following the waves momentum. 

Bodysurfers must generate the correct angular momentum in relation to the waves surface to make a clean take-off.

Swim-start is classified in accord: with or without fins, on the surface or underwater, dolphin kick or freestyle kick, leg propulsion or arm propulsion, with or without hand board, and so on.

We have observed that swim-start influences coordination after take-off into the wave line and also its velocity its related with the speed of bodysurfer displacement on the wave line.

Each of our training session is recorded with GoPro cameras placed over the surface, on the wall and the bottom of the pool, perpendicular, and parallel to the direction of movement and also mobile cameras on the board of the swim pool and underwater.

We have done it for over a year and a half. The data collected enables our coaches to closely observe the performance of team members and thus traces the correct strategies in order to achieve goals.

We're now using also using mobile cameras and drones to analyze performance on the surf.

Due to a confidentiality agreement and copyright and image rights,  between team members, coaches, and club staff, at the moment we are not able to share as much as we would like. Most of the images show the author performance. 😉

The Rocket kick-off

Take-Off

soon...

Apnea

How fast and how long can you swim or hold your breath underwater during a bodysurfing session or a wipeout? At our facility, intense apnea-handling sessions are incorporated into our training, helping you to develop extra breath for wipe-outs, or when you need to cross a series of waves in a rough sea and get out to the lineup.

We aren't training for slow freediving or spearfishing. We are training for big waves bodysurfing situations, with no jet ski to help you and when swimming underwater as fast as possible to cross several huge waves is the only way to be safe.

 

The program works  CO2 tolerance, how to deal with O2 low levels (Hypoxic Threshold), mammalian dive reflex and how to use lactic acid during dynamic apnea training as well aerobic and anaerobic land workout.

As you will see in the next videos, we not just swim under CO2 and O2 tables, what's already hard. But we overload drills by adding ankle weights up to 6kg as well wrist weight. The Dragger is an underwater swim device created by JSC Mauricio whose purpose is to create the maximum possible drag (while maintain streamline body position), is wonderful gear that makes very hard to swim 50 meters underwater, in any speed without ankle and wrist weights. Image all together.



 

Next videos  record fun sessions of UW Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and UW Rugby that is part of our Progressive Bodysurfing - breath enhancement training (high CO2 tolerance, Hypoxia Threshold, Mammalian Dive Reflex and Heavy Lactic Acid levels, etc.).




We play in different depths, each with different specificity, all equally demanding.

It's a lot of fun, and it improves our preparation to better absorb wipe-out situations. In such training bodysurfers are constantly hit by knees, head, elbows, shoulders, etc. It is difficult to leave this training without many bruises. Underwater Rugby is a soft exercise if compared with the underwater fight. LOL

Drill

In the next video, you will find land drills. This type of work is fundamental to the  perfection of undulatory body movement. And consequently to minimize frontal drag and maximize propulsion.




Progressive spinner.

Through the biomechanical analysis of movements specific to bodysurf practice, it became possible to suggest necessary changes to this maneuver in order to create less drag and have more speed.

Watching JC Rodrigues' first attempt to perform the progressive spinner, it's possible to glimpse how much progress can be made in a short time.

 Echoes

The peculiarity of the elements of our training routine awaken the attention of everyone present at the facility, whether they are swimmers, coaches, or visitors. 

Swimmers of all styles approach us, interested by our technical skills in underwater dolphin and by the speeds we reach. As a result, excellent swimmers are becoming interested in practicing bodysurfing and finswimming as real sports and not just as playful activities.

If you live in Rio de Janeiro or come for a visit, we would love to have you joining us. But if not, don’t despair! Take advantage of this course no matter where you live. We are excited to share our insights with you through our website and social media.

If you are a bodysurfer or a swimmer interested in taking part of this project, just reach us by email.


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2 comments

  • Bodysurfing is my passion and I´m willing to learn finswimming techniques. Hugs, Alex. @alexxsj

    Alex de Jesus
  • I’m a bodysurfer interested in learning your techniques. I’ve met Mark and live close to Encinitas; please keep me posted on John’s clinic….

    rick

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