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Most swimmers have been taught to apply force at the finish of the stroke – as Karlyn is doing here. By placing the umph at the finish, you rely on your triceps for power, and this is a small muscle group.
Now watch as Karlyn puts the umph in the front. We’ll freeze it – here – to show how there’s almost a curve underneath her arm as she hooks in with the hand, and starts to engage the lats, pectorals, biceps, and the muscles all along her side. This is a larger muscle group – and it creates a lot of power.
Let’s watch again. The power phase occurs early in the stroke, when large muscle groups are available. She applies pressure -- or umph! -- almost immediately after the catch, then releases the pressure as her hand nears the ribcage.
Keep your wrist straight and fingertips pointed at the bottom to maintain a solid hold on the water.
Feel yourself move or shift forward in the water, and feel your body lift up. Then ease up and round off the pull at the hips.
Some swimmers may not be able to apply pressure at the top part of the stroke. It’s OK to put the umph in the middle or slightly later – like this. Just remember: The power is not in the back!
Think again about how you would paddle a surfboard or canoe. You do not press past vertical. The power is in the front, then you release and bring the arm or paddle out of the water.
Release your hand at the hip or slightly sooner, and try not to finish past the thigh.
At the finish, simply allow your hand and arm to flow with the water, and bring them out of the water and into the recovery.
The hand may travel toward the thigh, but there should be no umph or power behind the movement.
Put the umph in the front.