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Sometimes we get so caught up in pulling hard and kicking fast that we forget which way we’re supposed to go when we swim. It’s forward! Except in backstroke it’s really backwards!

Everything that I do with my stroke is designed to help me move forward...to get to the other end of the pool!

If I deviate…even just the tiniest bit…from true forward motion, I’ll lose the race. In competition, you can’t waste time and energy going up and down…or side to side. You have to send everything forward.

In practice, I spend plenty of time going fast, but I think I spend even more time swimming slow and controlled…thinking about all the things we’ve covered in this video.

In this clip and the next few clips, I’m swimming at a slow, relaxed pace, but I’m thinking about a focus point and trying to execute it with precision and control. In this clip the focus is on keeping my head rock steady.

In this one, the focus is rotation. Watch how everything moves together -- torso, hips, legs, feet. I’m rotating around an axis that stretches right down the black line. There’s no up and down or sideways movement.

Here it’s all about the feet. Toes pointed. Streamlined. Everything moving within a cylinder that leads right to the other end of the pool.

In this one, I’m concentrating on clearing each shoulder and landing my pinky at precisely the right angle to cut clean and deep into the water. In a race, there’s no time to put my hand in and search for the catch. I have to hit it exactly right…every time…and without thinking about it. I do my thinking and searching in practice. In a race, it’s all about forward motion.

Here’s one last clip of relaxed swimming, and after this one we’ll take it up to speed. Here I’m working on finishing each stroke -- practicing that final sculling movement at the hip. I love this move. It lets me finish each stroke with such speed and acceleration that I feel like my hand is exploding out of the water. It’s an incredibly propulsive move and, if all the other focus points are in place, it sends me forward like a rocket. Yeah.