Let's take a look at a common problem that might be holding you back. Here is a typical sequence from one such swimmer Anna showing her entering the water and extending forward:
In the final position (3) her elbow has dropped down lower than the wrist with the hand facing forward. This is a problem because from there it is impossible to initiate a high-elbow catch on the water. Instead Anna starts to pull through with the elbow dropped losing her a lot of propulsion:
The interesting thing here is that Anna knows she should not be dropping her elbow in position 3 and yet is unable to stop it happening. Why? Because she is trying to keep her hand too near the surface at this point in the stroke and despite her best intentions, as she rotates her body onto her left side she has to drop her elbow to keep it near the surface. In comparison, take a look at Australian elite swimmer Rhys Mainstone:
Comparing 3 and 5, notice that Rhys' hand is deeper in the water, which allows him to keep his elbow higher than the wrist and the wrist higher than the fingertips. He can then bend his elbow and start pressing water backward effectively (6), generating good propulsion.
As you swim, try entering the water and extending forward slightly deeper so that you are able to keep your elbow high. Experiment with different depths to see what feels best - somewhere between 20 and 30 cm (8 and 12 inches) is best, the exact depth will depend on how broad you are and the level of flexibility in your upper back and shoulders. Of course you don't want to go too deep as this will send your hand down towards the bottom of the pool, it's a matter of finding the sweet spot between the two.
This tip is taken from our five star-reviewed Catch Masterclass DVD, showing you exactly how elite swimmers generate so much propulsion, how to make these changes in your stroke and many of the other reasons why a good catch can be so elusive. If you haven't seen it already don't miss out!