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One of the clearest, strongest visual images that we can take from Roland’s stroke is this. On every stroke…for one brief instant…Roland’s extends front to back with his hands.
Here it is again on the other side. Roland’s hands are fully extended, front to back.
In this above-water clip, focus JUST on Roland’s arms. Notice how the lead arm remains fully extended until the exact moment when the trailing arm exits the water.
From under water, you can see how this front-to-back extension contributes to Roland’s world-class speed.
First, let’s look at how it affects Roland’s balance, or body line. When the hands are extended front to back, notice the needle-like shape of Roland’s body.
On every stroke, Roland’s front-to-back hand extension gives him a sleek, streamlined, and horizontal body position. There’s no resistance.
For the brief moment that his hands are extended and his body is long, Roland travels forward with almost no drag – carrying all the speed generated from his kick and pull.
Even during the breath, Roland maintains full extension, front to back.
Roland waits until the rear hand exits the water to initiate the catch with his lead hand and to begin the pull.
By keeping the lead arm fully extended – and relatively high in the water -- Roland gets a better set-up position for his pull. The extended hand encourages a high elbow at the catch… and throughout the rest of the pull.
On this next clip, watch how Roland’s hand accelerates through the pull.
This acceleration is encouraged by the fact that the lead hand remains stable and out front until the rear hand finishes the pull.
If the lead hand must wait to pull until the other hand finishes the pull, the pulling hand will accelerate naturally.
Finally, extending front to back on every stroke encourages a low breath…which is the topic of our next focus point.
In these final clips, focus just on Roland’s hands, and how they are extended front to back on every stroke.
This is a key element of Roland’s stroke…and it is the easiest element that you can add to your own stroke.
Take these images to the pool with you when you practice.