I offer a FREE Swim Analysis. Click on the image to find out how you can send me a swim video.
Once I get your video I will do a voice and demonstration analysis and Dave will edit my voice over your video.
It starts with breathing, body balance, body alignment, rotation, and kick. Breathing and kicking will impact your balance, alignment, and rotation. Your eyes should look down towards the bottom of the pool to keep your neck in alignment with your spine, your body nice and straight on the surface of the water. Rotating hip to hip, (underwater pull drives hip rotation).
Common breathing mistakes I see from swimmers include not rotating on their hip to breathe, instead, they push down with their arm and lift their head. Dropping their arm when they rotate to inhale causes a lost propulsive force and split kick their legs for balance.
The correct way to breath to the side is to rotate on your hip to inhale, turn your head so one ear and one eye come out the water to breathe. To do this, your hips need to be up on the surface and your lead arm needs to be extended out in front of you. Your ear and bicep should be pretty close together as you take an inhalation, then rotate your face back in the water and opposite hip.
The flutter kick stems from the quads and hip flexors, kick up and down with flexible ankles. Keep the toes loosely pointed, and the kick narrow. Your knees should bend, but not too much, and your legs should never cross.
Drills that will help you with breathing and balance include kick on side and double pump. These drills work on body position as well as kicking. The advantage of a kick is that it creates the balance needed to have a good stroke rhythm, as a triathlete not for propulsion.
Next, I look at the three main phases of the stroke.
What goes on when your arm is out of the water. Common mistakes I see is wide and flat arm vs high elbow and leading with their hand (due to lack of rotation), vs leading with their elbow. High elbow recovery sets up with a nice hand entry. Leading, reaching, with your hand causes you to enter the water very flat and shallow, arm and elbow at the same time, which causes a dropped elbow before the catch and push phase.
The way you set up your hand enters the water can make or break your stroke and starts with high elbow recovery, fingertips, below your wrist, below your elbow.
A great entry has your fingers entering the water first, followed by your palm, then your wrist, forearm and finally your elbow. In order to enter cleanly, you need to get your elbow high on the recovery and aim to “spear” your hand in on the entry before rotating, the rotation helps extend arm after entry
The underwater pull includes the setup, also known as the “catch” followed by the push, pulling the greatest amount of water with each stroke to propel yourself. Once fingers are pointed down, elbow bent, push water straight back towards feet, past your hip. Lack of any power/force behind your pull which will cause your hip rotation to be slightly off (as mentioned about the pull drives hip rotation). Common mistakes I see is an athlete reaching with their hand, dropping their elbow and are not pushing their palm past their elbow, past their hip.
It is helpful for a swimmer to look down and swim over the black line and watch their arms pull under their body, not cross the midline and not pull wider than black like.
In conclusion, when it comes to swimming, work on technique and strength. The technique includes high elbow recovery, to set up for a fingertip entry, rotate after entry to extend your arm, catch and push. Strength includes extending from behind, pushing past hip and scrap thigh with every arm stroke. After you have the technique and strength, with appropriate swim workouts developing endurance, strength, threshold, and speed, increase your arm cadence without losing power and strength and you will be faster.
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