This week at swimgym CATCH

The theory of swimming freestyle is very simple: we need to push the water backwards in order to go forward. Actually doing it is a bit more complicated. During a good freestyle catch you 'grab' the water and position your hand and forearm the right way to propel yourself forward.

This might be the most important thing you read this week. You wonder why your shoulder hurts or you’re not as fast as the others in your lane. You chalk it up to a lack of fitness or flexibility, when in fact it could be just one thing: the catch.

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Skills & drills Hinge

The hinge drill lets you practice the catch phase of the freestyle without pulling through. You can focus on the positioning of your hand and forearm only. Use a snorkel to isolate the movement. Fins are optional.

How to do it 

  • Start kicking with both arms stretched out in front of you, hands are shoulder width apart

  • Bend your elbow and bring the hand under your elbow with your fingertips pointing down. There should be a 90 degree angle in your elbow

  • Without moving your elbow bring your hand back forward

  • Repeat with the other arm

Focus points 

  • Focus on the position elbow and hand, not on the propulsion

  • Kick and breathe easily, keep a neutral head position

  • Control the execution of the drill – don’t rush it

Coach tip

This drill requires a lot of repetition. Alternate with swimming freestyle with a snorkel, focussing solely on bending the elbow to get that catch position before pulling through. Eventually you should feel an increased feel for the water in your catch.




A good catch will give you much propulsion in the second half of your pull-through. Your catch must be subtle, it is mainly to get your arm in the right position. After the catch you can accelerate to a stronger push-out.

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