LeblonFins High Performance Bodysurfing Training Program or just "Progressive Bodysurfing" is a pioneer sports project focused on research and development of effective techniques and training program for watermen swimming at large surf, with focus on bodysurfing.
Why perform such training, if you're already a fantastic bodysurfer?
For reasons as to get into the wave you choose, as surfers does, instead of having to be happy with the party' leftovers? Or, after the take-off, be able to quickly get away from the foam, rather than being quickly swallowed by it? Or, get in and out of tubes? Or, getting out the wave from its shoulder, instead of having to duck dive? It's possible to go on and on.. Sounds too good to be true? But actually it's not. Instead, It is a matter of being genuinely interested in the subject. And be willing to challenge current ideas. Aiming for demonstrable and reproducible data. Not opinions or personal preferences. We are not conducting academic research, but we have a thesis and evidences to prove our thesis.
Do we swim like elephants or like dolphins?
Roughly speaking, terrestrial mammals swim front crawl
Seals and dolphins can swim really fast. Sometimes, faster than the waves. Also they are supreme bodysurfers. Many bodysurfers dream about having the same performance. But the fact is that we already start all wrong. Most bodysurfers, in the pursuit of speed, rely mainly on the technique borrowed from terrestrial mammals, I mean the front crawl, believing it to be the fastest.This could not work at all. Terrestrial mammals are not known for their excellence in aquatic ability. Even a Polar Bear, that is a great swimmer, should not be take as the best example of a surfer. They are good runners, on earth. If you do not imitate a whale when you run, whether it's a marathon or 100 meters, why imitate an elephant to swim or bodysurfing waves?
Front crawl is totally outdated.
Most bodysurfers come from a swimming and surfing background -- both placing emphasis on the arm stroke and flutter kick. The belief that the front crawl is the fastest and most efficient form of swimming is already outdated by almost half a century
Most people didn't realized that if in 1989, FINA (the international governing body for swimming) were not made a rule that limited the distance a swimmer could travel underwater to 15 meters, swimming competitions would have naturally become finswimming¹competitions², with no fins, already in the 80's. Several Olympic champions broke records swimming underwater (with no fins) a huge part of the race. Hill Taylor even had a record denied for swimming all the race underwater.The side effect is that people in the West world, including bodysurfers, keep attached to an outdated concept of moving from point A to point B in the water, whether in the pool or in the surf.
As bodysurfers, we´re attached to an outdated concept of moving from point A to point B in the water. But our performance is not restricted by rules.
Other watersports have evolved in technique and gear...
Other sports like lifesaving and its equipment and technique, whose ILSA (the international governing body for lifesaving) has about 5 million members in Europe alone, have already liberated themselves from the predominance of crawl and have evolved tremendously by including the underwater undulatory body movement, a technique whose the major evolution happened into finswimming.
Surf is another sport that has evolved in the absence of rules restricting the surfer' performance. The awareness of what was done in other sports, such as skateboarding and snowboarding, influenced the perception of boundaries allowing the evolution of the sport. Along with this, surfing equipment has expanded dramatically over the past 50 years, amplifying the performative possibilities.
While other sports have evolved in technique and gear, most bodysurfers and watermen still deal with energy consumption and drag in the surf, resorting to crossfit, apnea training, carrying weights underwater, etc., to be fit and increase breath, in the pursuit of became a better and faster bodysurfer, increase survival chances in case of been wiped out or just for increase the fun time in the water.
Bigger lungs and muscles can be a partial solution as fitness training only solves a very small part of the problem. Also does not enable you to recover quickly after the gnarly conditions that come with taking on big waves that the watermen may face when under the huge wipe-out pressure of a big wave.
The collective imaginary and the bodysurfing development
Sports visualization or sports imagery training is an experience, a warm-up experience, a training experience and a performance experience. Visualization for bodysurfer is a skill from where they can improve and benefit from. Also, having a multi-sensory approach when visualizing its vital for survive. Mental imagery or visualization involves the bodysurfers imagining themselves in an environment performing maneuvers, using all of their senses (sight, hear, time perception, etc). The images should have the bodysurfer performing successfully and feeling satisfied with their performance.
To become skilled in the use of imagery you should practice daily: on your way to the beach, during and after bodysurfing sessions. In every session, before you execute any maneuver or combination of maneuvers, first do it in imagery. Our coaches insist with LeblonFins team members, that we must see, feel, and experience themselves moving through the actions in our mind, as we would like them actually to unfold.
Our strategy is that through repetition of each technique and tactics, in the same controlled environment, video assisting and coaching, etc., we can building the correct imagery in the pool and take it to the surf.
Bodysurfing collective imaginary is deeply limited.
With a few exceptions, nothing is done today that has not been done 30 or 40 years ago. Besides sporadically someone else gets a bit more speed, or charge a bigger wave, most of the bodysurfers are slow and remain lost into the foam. Most bodysurfers rely on flippers that have been created around 50 years ago! If you take a look at social media Vimeo and Youtube, most captures are about to be similar to the images below. From head and upper body, being the rest of the body covered by the wave.
Easy to agree that images from bodysurfers doing the all the wave' line, away from the foam for about 1 or more bodies, are rare. If there are any. And as exceptions do not make the rule, it can be said that bodysurfers are pretty much still trapped in foam. If happens, usually lasts no more than a few seconds ending with the bodysurfer being covered by the wave. Entering and leaving a tube voluntarily, seems to happen by miracle.
Studies clearly demonstrate the immense value of imagery and guided imagery in learning and performing motor skills. And that the execution of a gesture depend on the quality of the visual memory you have about this gesture, contributing to the fact that the posterity generations are always surpassing the precedents, with respect to the improvement of the mechanical gesture.
So, how to achieve it?
To understand and be able to overcome all the issues that affect bodysurfers' performance, LeblonFins develops an ongoing non profit research project: the LeblonFins High Performance Bodysurfing Training Program or just "Progressive Bodysurfing", where we're all volunteers.
We are analyzing the prevailing sport gestures, evaluating its biomechanics, recreating the bodysurfing motor pattern and putting together with what sports science has to say about the swimmers' progression with two fins or barefoot, either on the surface or underwater, by means of the swimmers' muscular force only. In the pool we overloaded many possible gestures in order to understand how better assess the possibilities of changes in technical, tactical and motor behaviors.We found that training programs focus on water event-specific characteristics, provides much better results than non related trainings. Bodysurfing is too complex to waste time training gestures that do not exist in the practice of bodysurfing, strengthening less-requested muscle groups rather than those that are really essential.
Finswimming is by far, "the" superior form to move the body through water
We explore how, when and where would be possible and /or necessary to use finswimming body's undulatory movement. We found that both, need and applicability, far outweighs the limited and simplistic view that restricted it to the popular underwater dolphin entry.
RMT (Respiratory Muscle Training) - IMT (Inspiratory Muscle Trainer):
Our program uses a mixed modal training, into a nonlinear training program to enables field application in accordance with environmental changes by changing exercise intensity and amount of training on a weekly basis. We recreated the bodysurfing motor pattern and bring up several way to overload and refine it. Also it target breath enhancement. LeblonFins is the only tool that allows us the accomplishment of specific drills in water that are hard to be performed with any other gear. Works wonderfully to core, ankle and heel strengthening, into the water. At the moment we are integrating the below activities into one structured and organized system.