Elite swimmers such as Rebecca Adlington and Jono Van Hazel epitomise this long smooth stroke style but there are many strong masters swimmers and fast swimming triathletes who swim this way too. Despite these swimmers looking like a picture of perfection, there are a couple of stroke flaws that Smooths exhibit surprisingly often:
Flaw 1: Turning The Hand Outwards At Full Extension
Turning the hand outwards at full extension is quite subtle and you may need to watch a swimmer from the end of the lane swimming towards you to see it happening:
|Like many Smooths, elite triathlete Guy Crawford has a|
tendency to turn his hand outwards at full extension.
A good visualisation to help correct this movement is to become aware of the middle finger on each hand as you swim. Enter the water and extend forwards, keeping that middle finger pointing gun-barrel straight down the lane, even on a breathing stroke. By straightening out the lead hand you should immediately feel a better sense of rhythm and fluidity to the stroke.
Flaw 2: Late Breathing Timing
Good breathing timing involves turning the head away from the arm as it enters the water and extends forwards. If you were to watch this in slow motion, the head turns slightly ahead of the shoulders:
|Guys's breathing timing is excellent, rotating his head to breathe just ahead of his body roll.|
If your breathing timing is late, you may be completely unaware it is happening. You can check by consciously turning the head away from lead arm as you enter and extend forwards on the breathing stroke. Try it the next time you're in the water, improved breathing timing should feel smoother and more relaxed.
Smooths And Stroke Correction
Smooths are very proprioceptive swimmers who normally make changes to their stroke very easily, however they may find these two particular habits hard to break. Be persistent and expect the changes to take about six sessions before they feel "right".
Take heart if you're not so smooth in the water yourself, sometimes great swimmers find improving their stroke challenging too!