Deep Catch Vs High Elbow Pull (again)

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Recent scientific studies have raised this debate on the best freestyle stroke technique, as I’ve discussed in this previous post. The “proven” conclusion was that the “deep catch”, or straight arm pull, is the faster of the two ways to pull.

So, debate over, right? We should all just adopt the deep catch and ditch the high elbow stuff.

Not exactly. In fact, I agree with Glenn here in this video- that triathletes and masters swimmers may not want to go with this straight arm pull. And, I believe that as a triathlete, it would likely actually hurt your races. The reason? You wil be using more energy with that pull, and while you may actually go a little faster, you will tire out in your race and your times will reflect it.

Remember, it’s not about going faster in your swim. It’s about being more efficient, which will lead to faster overall triathlon times and faster swim times.

2 thoughts on “Deep Catch Vs High Elbow Pull (again)

  • Jakob says:

    I actually recently switched to high-elbow (still practising). While it may be accurate that the deep catch is faster, it’s equally accurate that high elbow is more efficient and conserves energy better.

    That means you can go further with high elbow with the same energy expenditure. Wouldn’t it also mean that when you go all-out for 100 meters for instance, you’d be able to maintain higher speed with high elbow, simply because it conserves energy!?!

    So, while a single deep, stretched arm stroke might be faster, you will be able to do more strokes with high-elbow and more than make up for the deep stroke advantage.


    Anyway, my experience with high elbow pull was that it immediately lead to increased speed.

    • admin says:

      Hey Jakob,
      That’s great to hear.
      It’s different with the sprints. My understanding is that the deep catch IS faster, but it’s only faster for so long- and there’s a point of diminishing returns. And, if you’ve had success with the high elbow catch (even as a sprinter), there’s no point in changing. And in distance swimming, I have seen plenty of people with your same experience- they learn and implement the high elbow pull and they get faster.


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