3 focus points for perfect swim form
Let’s say you have had your swim analyzed, and your swim instructor has given you a laundry list of things to work on, which may include items like unilateral breathing, wiggling head, sinking ankles, crossing over, low catch, and premature hand entry. It seems like a daunting, Herculean task fixing every single little one. So, as you swim, you decide to focus on one and only one, but as you do, three other problems seem to prop up in its place. Frustrating to say the least.
However, I have found that you can fix the majority of that corrections list by only focusing on three: head position, hand entry, and elbow position. When you focus and fix these three “swim points” other minor problem points like lower body lateral movements, sinking hips and legs, and even a weak kick correct themselves.
- Head Position: I talked about this last week, but for those who missed it, let me do a brief synopsis. I find that many swimmers look forward when they swim as if wanting to watch their hands. By doing so, you tilt your head back at an angle that not only creates drag but also strains your neck. In such a position it is also hard to breath to both sides and breath in another count besides every other stroke. Inadvertently, your hips and lower body also sink and move from side to side to maintain balance. See how many problems this can cause?
To fix this, you want to focus on tucking your chin and keeping your eyes focus on the bottom of the pool. You also want to slightly push your head and shoulders down, which will raise your hips and lower body up. A good drill to focus on this is the dead man’s float where you just lie in the water, hands at your side and ankles together.
- Hand Entry and Position: Many swimmers cross over the center axis of the body which throws off the rest of your stroke including your lower body and zaps your power. I like to focus on stretching my arm out to the far corner of the lane line (the 2 o’clock position) and just placing my hand there. Then I rotate my body and stretch towards that corner. It is going to seem awkward at first especially if you have been crossing over for a long time. However, even though you may feel like your arms are too wide, you are most likely in the perfect position.
- Elbow position: You have heard it a million times from us: a high elbow catch will lead to a more powerful stroke and a faster split. Without it, your cadence slows and you lose balance. To fix this, focus on keeping your arm bent at about a 45 degrees angle and bring it straight back. Your wrist should be below your shoulder as you pull. then as you finish your stroke maintain that high elbow and repeat focus number 2. You can even practice this on dry land, lying on a weight bench. You do not want your hand to touch the ground.
You do not have to fix these all at once, but can progress through them in order. If you swim three times a week, dedicate each warm-up to one of these and cycle through them each week. With only three minor adjustments, you can remove many inefficiencies.
Coach Chris and Kev