Your guide to rotation in the water

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Your guide to rotation in the waterHave you ever been told that you swim flat in the water? Some programs and coaches think that swimming flat in the water is perfectly normal and should not be corrected but at TSC, we take a different approach because there is a right way to rotate and a very wrong way to rotate. While swimming flat is more efficient that rotating incorrectly, you are still missing out on distance, speed, and efficiency when rotating. We are here to guide you on how to rotate your body correctly while swimming.

Swimming flat in the water means you are not rotating your hips and instead moving your arms as your shoulders, hips, and torso, remain inline with the surface of the water. The reason why this is inefficient is that you cannot get as much power in your catch and pull and you are not extending your arms as far as they could. It looks like you are paddling a surfboard.

Over rotating though is just as problematic. By rotating to the point that you are almost perpendicular to the surface of the water and your whole body is pointing to the walls. When this happens, you are most likely crossing over your center axis when you pull and thus you are losing power and forward propulsion. Here is a good video from our friends at Vasa that shows this. As they say in the video, over rotating is more like rolling in the water.

Instead of swimming flat, we recommend that you rotate your hips as you extend your arm forward so if your right arm is extended in front of you, your left hip is up and your belly button is pointing to the left. Video analysis of top swimmers show that a 45 to about 80 degrees of rotation is ideal.

You cannot measure this in the water as you swim, so these are just guidelines. The point though is to get more extension with your catch and more power with your pull since as you pull (with a high elbow of course) your hips “snap” as you rotate to the other side). The rotation also helps with engaging those back muscles instead of just using your shoulders as you would if you were flat in the water.

The best drill to help with rotation is the side kick drill.  Here, you want focus on that good rotation while remaining balanced in the water. Fins usually are a good idea here. Do not be concerned with the exact degree of rotation but more extra extension from the hips not the shoulders and the power of your pull and your hips snap from one rotation to the other. I like to include these drills in the warm up and between sets to set your form up for the work to come.