Dan Bullock, Head Coach at Swim for Tri, keeps us on poolside again this week to watch a video of the full freestyle (front crawl) stroke in action. Watch, learn and then go and try it yourself. If you can get a friend or clubmate to video you you can then do a comparison and see where the issues are which you’ll need to work on.
While watching this demo of freestyle, there are many key elements of the stroke on which you should keep your focus — you’ll need to watch it through several times. The video begins by giving us an excellent view of the length and timing of the stroke. Watch as the swimmer extends himself down the pool, reaching his lead arm towards the wall with each stroke. ensuring that he is stretching his body as far as possible by rotating through the hips and shoulder.
The timing of the stroke is such that the swimmer allows the lead arm to stretch down the pool while the opposite arm recovers over the water with a high, relaxed elbow. As the recovering arm begins to enter the pool in a smooth motion well in advance of the head, it is at this point that the opposite arm begins its catch and pull phase through the water.
The second segment gives us a head on view of the stroke just above and below the surface of the water. It again allows us to see the rotation and extension achieved with each stroke, while also giving us a view of the body staying high in the water, eliminating any frontal resistance as the swimmer moves through the pool. Notice the relaxed head position, with very little vertical movement throughout the entire stroke cycle. At this vantage point we also begin to see the powerful catch and pull phase being created under the water. Observe that while the hand drops down so that the fingers point towards the bottom and palms facing behind, the elbows stay high throughout the entire pulling phase all the way through the finish and exit towards the hips. A paddle is created with the hand and forearm, and this is then driven through the water while the body goes through its rotation.
The video finishes with the stroke being filmed from behind. While once again allowing us to see the extension, rotation and timing of the stroke, we now get a good view of the hand exiting the water near the hips and immediately transitioning into the recovery phase with the elbows high and hand staying relaxed and just clearing the surface of the pool.