So, what about that recovery and hand entry? The elbow leads the recovery and the fingertips lead the hand entry. Yes, it really is that simple. And there is no need to make it more complicated.
We love metaphors and visualisations here at SwimGym. What better way to learn and improve our swimming technique than with clear and powerful visualisations. High-level athletes use this very powerful tool of visualisation to see themselves performing in their heads. They clearly see what they have practiced or have been told to do before they actually do it in practice or in a race. It is said that Olympic swimmers can visualise a race within a couple of hundreds of a second from their personal best time. Think of Formula One drivers who drive the circuits first in their heads before actually going out on the track. So why shouldn't we try it? It works for everybody, so try it and be the change you want to see in the swimming pool.
The first visualisation is for the recovery. The recovery is that part of your freestyle stroke where your arm is out of the water moving from the back to the front. Now imagine you are a puppet. You have strings attached to your elbows. The puppet master is pulling the strings. Now imagine that the first thing that comes out of the water once you finished the push, is the elbow. The puppet master is pulling your elbow up by the string. Your hand and wrist are limp and following on behind.
The simple visualisation allows for a sequence of movements that drives the body forward giving us a lot of forward momentum. The elbow leads the recovery.
After the recovery comes the hand entry. The hand enters the water with a slightly bent arm, at approximately three quarters of your arm’s length. The second visualisation is to imagine that as the hand enters the water, middle finger first, it slots into a rail that pulls the hand forward and in a straight line with the shoulder. Keep visualising that the power of the rail pulling you forward rotates the opposite shoulder and hip out of the water. This is great technique. It promotes a great catch and prevents shoulder injuries. Two very important reasons to visualise and execute it correctly every time. The fingertips lead the entry.
Before you go to bed or in front of the mirror, visualise the high elbow recovery and hand entry and you’ll be swimming like a pro.