Friday, August 10, 2012

Bend It Like Becky Part 2

We hope you enjoyed the women's 800m final last week - it was an amazing performance by 15 year old Katie Ledecky to take out the race in her first event representing the USA and beat the established stars! She is an amazing talent and we wish her well for the future, she looks all set to become a major swimming star herself over the coming years.

Next week: Swim Smooth's Paul Newsome and Adam Young have both been in London watching the thrilling men's and women's Olympic Triathlons over the last few days and talking to many of the athletes and coaches behind the scenes. Next week on the blog we'll be looking at how these olympic athletes swam in the Serpentine and learning a few lessons from them that you can employ to improve your own open water swimming. In the meantime, let's bend another part of the freestyle stroke with Becky Adlington!

Bend It Like Becky Part 2

If you've been studying the underwater footage from the aquatic centre, one thing you may have noticed is how elite freestyle swimmers angle their wrists slightly at the front of their strokes just before starting the catch. This helps them initiate a high-elbow catch position and is something you can look to replicate in your own stroke.

Here's Becky Adlington doing just that:



Nearly all great freestyle swimmers use this technique, including Phelps, Thorpe, Hackett, Yang and Popov. The movement is quite subtle and is hard to see from the pool deck without using underwater video footage, which probably explains why many swimming coaches said we'd got it wrong when we released our Mr Smooth showing this movement back in 2009 :


Initiating The Catch

This is an important movement becomes it helps bring the fingers and hand downwards to initiate the catch, which is the point of the stroke where you start to gain purchase on the water :




We can see that the initiation from the wrist (1) brings the hand and forearm downwards into the classic high elbow catch position (3). Becky can now press the water backwards, not downwards, which is the essence of a great catch technique.

Your Stroke

Try adding this subtle movement into your own stroke, it will help you initiate your catch and will help you keep a nice rhythm, removing any overglide you might have in place.

One word of caution, it is possible over-do this action and point the fingertips too far downwards:


Keep the angle at the wrist subtle and gradually develop a feel for this movement and how the water feels as you engage with it. Remember not to rush the catch but engage with the water and progressively press it backward, helping you generate more propulsion for less effort.

Swim Smooth!

3 comments:

libor said...

I think the reason a lot of coaches have a problem with the bending of the wrist is that it should not be an intentional movement. It happens naturally if you have a relaxed hand as the hand falls down a little in the outstretched position. If a swimmer who is learning to do a high catch starts to focus on bending the wrist at the beginning, more than likely they'll end up doing what you show in the overdoing it picture. My 2 cents :).

Paul D. Panaretos, S.J. said...

many thanks for this and for part1! it makes a surprising--and most welcome--difference in my swims.

rahul said...

sir while swimming my legs goes down den i have to kick the floor come up and start swimming how can i improve this?