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5 Tips to the Best Freestyle Arm Stroke

11/4/2013

 

Katie Ledecky swimming freestyle - medium underwater view.By Russell Mark//National Team High Performance Consultant

From countless hours of film study and analysis, here are five points that should be considered to improve your freestyle.

To learn more about these points, including video demonstrations, check out this online freestyle clinic.

  1. The hand enters at shoulder width, and the pull traces the side of the body. The elbow bend of the catch is determined by the width of the entry/stroke. 
  2. The body rotates only 30-40 degrees to each side. More on the stomach than on the side. Rotate the shoulder forward, not all the way from side to side. This will help you get the optimal entry/stroke width.
  3. The hand finishes at the hip not the thigh. Lead the finish with your elbow. Keeps forearm and palm pushing water back. It's ok to release water early. Snapping the hand out the back is easy to do, but can lead to over-rotating and compromise the catch. Most importantly it can also put the shoulder at injury risk. 
  4. The arm should swing out to the side on the recovery. That's how you get the traditional high-elbow recovery while also protecting the shoulder from injury. A narrow recovery where the hand is close to the body can lead to injury over time. 
  5. Be aggressive on the hand entries. Drive your hand/arm/shoulder forward (and downward if a sprinter). Use the pulling arm that is in the water to push the entering arm forward.