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Freestyle Technique - Stay Long, Smooth, and Efficient
Once I get into position in a race, I want to stay long, smooth, and efficient, so staying long is something I work on every day at the pool.
For me, staying long means really stretching and gliding out front with my hand.
Some people call this a front-quadrant-type stroke -- keeping one hand out in the “front quadrant” -- and it’s something I work on all the time. The better I can get at staying long out front, the more efficient my stroke will be.
Staying long starts with a clean hand entry. I enter with my fingertips first and then extend forward. I enter with the hand straight above or just off my shoulder.
When I place my hand in the water, I keep the fingers just a little bit open and I keep them kind of relaxed, which helps me get a good pull.
I extend forward first and keep the hand up near the surface. On every stroke, I’m gliding with the hand out in front.
Staying long like this important in open water. First of all, it saves energy.
Second, it makes you more accurate and efficient when you sight (and we’ll cover sighting in Part 2 of the video).
And third, it helps you get a better draft off the person in front of you.
Here’s another angle where you can see how I place my hand in the water and then extend forward with the hand near the surface. Notice how I glide with one arm extended, getting maximum distance per stroke.
My favorite drill for staying long is to wear paddles, but hold them at the top of the paddle.
This lets me extend my hand forward and lets me send my hand down and keep my elbow up high, which is what we’ll talk about in the next chapter.