Stretch your Freestyle Out
One of the most common mistakes that novice adult swimmers make when they begin training for the first time is to flail their arms, taking short and inefficient strokes. This often happens because the swimmer is uncomfortable floating in the water (see Swimming Downhill for help). Another factor stems from the novice swimmer’s relative lack of experience with feeling the water and understanding his or her body’s interaction with the water.
“Feeling the Water” is a phrase often used by swimmers to describe how well they are able to exert force on the water with their pull. There are so many subtle forces going on during the freestyle pull that often times a novice swimmer has a lot of trouble knowing exactly how they should be applying force with their hand and arm against the water. As a result, the swimmer catches less water, forcing them to take more strokes to travel the same distance.
While video and pictures can be useful, the results won’t appear until you get in the pool for yourself. Working on distance-per-stroke drills or using proper equipment will help you “feel” a more effective stroke extension.
The Freestyler Hand Paddle is an ideal tool for the novice swimmer who is still trying to learn how to lengthen his or her stroke. Many novice swimmers struggle to extend their catch immediately after the recovery. Instead they will plunge their arm and pull directly back. The Freestyler forces you to plane forward with your hand and extend your stroke fully. It is the perfect tool for working on this first phase of the freestyle stroke.
The next phase of lengthening your stroke involves pulling correctly with a high-elbow catch. We’ll get into that next week.