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Become A Better Swimmer
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Find the techniques and fine points that will help you individualize your stroke for better performance.
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Look at the Bottom/Look Forward
Swim a length of freestyle with your eyes looking straight forward. Notice what happens to your hips. And notice the amount of effort it takes.
Now swim with your eyes looking straight down. Focus on the tiles...and notice what happens to your hips.
Swim half a length looking forward...
...and half a length looking at the bottom, with the neck relaxed and head in neutral.
Compare your speed...and the ease with which you swim.
Crossing the Centerline/Wide Entry
Swim a length where you deliberately let your hands cross the centerline.
Did you wiggle? Did you notice a loss of power...or that crossing over took more effort?
Now swim a length where you enter the hands wide -- outside the shoulders. What do you notice?
If you have trouble entering wide, swim half a length of “water polo” freestyle, with your head out of the water. You can see exactly where your hands are entering, and can keep the entry outside the shoulders.
After half a length with your head out, put your head in and keep swimming, but with the hands entering just outside the shoulders. Notice how the wide entry sets you up for a high-elbow catch, and helps you put the umph at the front part of your stroke.
Swim one length with exaggerated shoulder rotation. Really plunge each shoulder into the water.
Let your body roll and wiggle as you send the shoulders deep.
Then swim a length with your shoulders “flat” or “quiet.” Instead of focusing on rotation, focus on keeping the shoulders level and stable.
With less shoulder rotation, you should feel that it’s easier to set up a high-elbow catch, and that it’s easier to maintain a quick, steady rhythm with your pull.
Try half a length with more rotation...then half length with quiet shoulders and less rotation. Compare how much power you feel.
Broken Wrist/Straight Wrist
To emphasize the importance of a firm, straight wrist, swim a length where you initiate the catch by bending the wrist rather than the elbow.
Then imagine that you have a steel plate embedded in your wrist, and swim a length where you initiate the catch by bending the elbow and keeping the wrist absolutely straight.
Which way gives you more power: broken wrist...
...or straight wrist?
Which way lets you use the hand, wrist, and forearm as one unit -- as a single, straight pulling surface to press on the water?
Umph at the Back/Umph at the Front
Many swimmers have a hard time learning how to apply power at the front part of the stroke. This contrast drill will help you feel how to do it.
Start by swimming freestyle and placing the umph at the back of the pull. Push all the way back with your hand and finish each pull with exaggerated force.
Now place the umph in the front, by applying exaggerated force right after you initiate the catch. Your pull might feel a bit shallow when you do this.
As the hand reaches the hip, let go of the energy and simply let your hand exit and recover into the next stroke.
To put the umph at the front, make sure you “pop” the elbow to initiate the catch, and that you maintain an unbroken pulling surface from fingertips to elbow. Use this surface to press BACK and not down. When the hand reaches the hip, let go of the press and let the hand flow quickly into the recovery.