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If you want to excel at sprint freestyle, you have to move directly forward, with no wasted motion.
If you deviate even slightly from traveling a straight line – either side to side or up and down – you lose valuable time.
To minimize side-to-side motion, Roland extends front to back on each stroke.
What does he do to minimize up-and-down motion? Look for his mouth during the breath.
It’s hard to see, but the breath is here. And notice where the hands are. Roland starts his breath at the exact moment his hands are extended front to back.
By the time Roland’s hand is near his shoulder, the breath is done and the face is back in the water.
Let’s watch it again from another angle. The breath starts here…and the breath is connected to the hands.
From under water, you can see that the breath does nothing to upset Roland’s horizontal balance. Even when Roland breathes, you could run a straight line from his fingertips to his toes.
Notice that Roland never lifts his head to breathe. When it’s time for a breath, he keeps his lead arm extended. He gives a little turn with his body and head, gets his air, and then returns his face to the water. The breath is very relaxed…and very, very low.
When Roland is traveling at speed, his head and shoulder create a trough, and he finds his air inside the trough, right at the surface of the water.
If you’re not traveling as fast as Roland, the trough won’t be quite so big. If this is the case, you may need to look back slightly to get your air.
Another way to stay low during the breath is to curl your mouth to the side – in other words, make a “Popeye” mouth -- when you breathe.
As you can see, part of Roland’s mouth is still visible under water during the breath, which means he’s curled the other part of his mouth up to air.
Another way to stay low during the breath is to think about keeping one goggle in the water at all times. Watch how Roland’s lower goggle is barely visible during the breath.
If we freeze it here…you can see that Roland leads into the breath with the top of his head. He’s looking directly to the side or slightly back, and nearly half of his head is still in the water. All you can see is one goggle and the corner of his mouth.
And here you can see that even though Roland looks slightly forward when he swims, he does not lift up before the breath…or look forward during the breath.
Roland stays low when he goes to breathe – because a low breath keeps him traveling on the straightest possible line to the other end.