The short answer to this question is simply that there isn't a single cookie-cutter stroke that we want everyone to copy. Different stroke styles suit different swimmers and there's way too much variation in the general population's height, build, arm length, hand size, flexibility and strength for their to be one ideal way for everyone to swim.
Take our two stroke animations showing two classic ways to swim. Mr Smooth demonstrates a long smooth stroke used by many elite pool swimmers:
And Miss Swinger (available to study from all angles in our Pro Console) demonstrating an alternative style using by elite swimmers both in the pool and open water:
Their arm recovery, kicking style and stroke rate (cadence) are completely different - and yet they both show great "Swim Smooth technique".
You can see examples of real swimmers using these styles here:
Swinger: Jodie Swallow: youtube.com/watch?v=hiNkAMU8syI&t=1s, Tim Don : swimsmooth.guru/video/lZ/tim-don/ (Guru subscription required)
Your Own SwimmingSo what stroke style should you be aiming for yourself? In most cases you don't have to actively choose a given style, instead work on the key areas of your stroke below and your individual style will naturally evolve - moving you towards the Swinger or Smooth style, or somewhere on the spectrum in-between.
The Swim Smooth stroke has:
- An efficient leg kick, kicking with a nice straight leg from the hip in either a 2-beat or 6-beat kick style, lifting the legs high and minimising drag:
- An arm recovery style that is natural to you and suits the environment in which you are swimming. A classic high elbow recovery might be great for pool swimmers but a straighter arm recovery is better for wetsuit and open water swimming to clear waves and chop:
- Extending forwards underwater with the elbow slightly higher than the wrist and the wrist slightly higher than the fingertips:
- An effective catch and pull, pressing the water back behind you at all times with a bent elbow:
- Good stroke rhythm, moving continuously from one stroke to the next.
- At an advanced level, the swimmer has the ability to change their stroke rate depending on conditions - lengthening out slightly in very flat water or increasing stroke rate in rougher conditions.
Work on those key elements in your own stroke and you'll be swimming better than you ever have done before, and you can then be confident you have a true "Swim Smooth stroke"!