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Freestyle - Avoiding the "Fall"

Posted by Glenn Mills on Oct 05, 2010 08:22AM

While there are many examples of great swimmers loping, or falling, into the water after a breath, for most of us normal swimmers, it's a much better idea to maintain a direct and stable body position while swimming freestyle.

Why Do It:
Many swimmers push themselves up and out of the water for the breath, which often causes them to settle, or fall, into the water after the breath.  This can give them a feeling of strength and rhythm, but can also lead to the need to go UP for the next breath, or to just get the shoulder out of the water on the next recovery.  This drill will help you identify and minimize any up-and-down movement.

How to Do It:
 The best way to learn how to avoid the fall is to swim without breathing.
2.  Feel the stability of the head, and how it drives directly forward.
3.  As you start to add the breath, focus on a simple rotation of the head, rather than pushing the head UP to air.
4.  This will take particular focus on the lead arm while you're breathing.  How much weight is pushing on that arm during the extension or glide?

How to Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
Double breathing, or triple breathing can help you maintain a direct and stable body line.  If you're unable to rotate from one side to the other quickly and within the set rhythm of your stroke, then you may be leaning too much to one side... and potentially "falling" in the water after you breathe.

Remember... the goal of this focus point is to send all of your energy forward, not up and down.  Even Jason Lezak has told us one of the reasons he went so fast in 2008 was because he reduced the up and down.

Archived Comments

Responded Oct 06, 2010 12:49AM

Another great way to work on a good stable rotation without the fall is to utilize a centermount snorkel from Finis. This way you can focus on your rotation without any attention being paid to if/when you run out of air.

Responded Nov 28, 2010 09:44PM

An interesting observation made by Ron Johnson, US Olympic coach says that most world class swimmers have a symmetric up and down motion in the water during freestyle swimming. See his interview at swimworldmagazine, part 5:00 or 9:30 where he says Lezak won that phenomenal 2008 relay anchor leg using this style.

Responded Nov 28, 2010 10:06PM

OK, So I guess the question is... Is every swimmer that visits this site already a world class swimmer or normal people trying to learn? Just an observation. ;)

Responded Nov 29, 2010 04:54PM


Responded Nov 30, 2010 05:02AM

Glenn, as evidenced by my times earlier this year, I'm far from world class. I will confess though, having been a(n) "age group swimmer" and now swimming USMS, I'm anything but normal people. With respect to vertical motion in freestyle, isn't any motion not directed toward the next wall (or buoy marker etc.) wasted, or at least underutilized energy? I was taught early high elbow catch with very little "latency" before engaging a strong, long pull.

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