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Once the swimmer has a correct flutter kick in Position 11, we go to the arms and teach only the arms, with no breathing.
We want big arms. We teach them to start in Position 11 with eyes down and then they pull one hand toward their leg.
Keep everything nice and big…and exit way back and bring it around with a straight-arm recovery – like a big rainbow-type stroke that comes back to a full Position 11.
I have them start in Position 11 and go four armstrokes – just four. Left, right, left right and no breathing. And each time they come back to Position 11.
I do not say “catch-up,” even though that is a catch-up stroke. It is catching up, but Position 11 is what you want them to hear. You want two parallel lines.
I found that when I taught catch-up, with the hands touching in the front, I had too many kids swimming like that and zig-zagging down the pool. They have a tendency to do that anyway, so I get them a little wider and flatter by telling them I want Position 11.
We teach Position 11, and then go to almost Position 11, and you get a beautiful freestyle with a nice complete pull and a big sweep over the water.
If you do this with just the arms and no breathing, they can see the hand as it pulls and it should come underneath the side of the body rather than down the centerline. They can watch their hand finish and relax.
If you want your swimmers to use a high-elbow recovery – like this – try teaching it after you teach Position 11, big arms, and a straight-arm recovery.
It’s easier to learn the stroke with a straight-arm recovery. And some swimmers will find this the most effective style for them. Teach straight arm first…then transition to a high-elbow recovery.