It's a bespoke finely crafted solid jarrah wood piece. And as you'd expect from a well educated squad swimmer (!) it also depicts perfect hand entry technique :
Notice how the hand enters the water with the palm facing down, entering fingertips first. Here's Paul in action doing the same:
This is how you should enter into the water when you swim freestyle. Not only does this set you up for a great catch at the front of the stroke but it places minimum stress on the shoulders.
Many swimmers enter thumb first with the palm facing outwards, in fact this used to be taught to kids in the UK any many other places around the world:
This internally rotates the shoulders, placing a lot of repetitive stress on the joint. In fact it's the leading cause of shoulder pain and injury in swimming. If that's not bad enough, after entering the water your hand tends to slice downwards making it very hard to develop a good catch:
If you are not sure how you enter into the water then give this a try the next time you swim. Keep your hand held flat with your fingers held slightly together and see if it reduces stress on the shoulder or gives you a greater sense of attachment and propulsion.
So a huge thanks to Amanda for a fantastic birthday present but also perhaps for helping many swimmers improve their stroke!
If you are a Swim Smooth Guru subscriber, you can find out more about hand entry technique here:
And also follow our step-by-step fault fixer process, containing all the drills and methods you need to remove a thumb-first entry from your own stroke:
You can see our other key fault fixer processes here:
Kicking from the knee
Poor Body Position & Low Sinky Legs
Losing Support Of Lead Arm / Taking In Water When Breathing
Lifting Head To Breathe
Poor Rotation / Hard To Recover Arms Over Surface
Conquering Bilateral Breathing
Crossover In Front Of The Head & Scissor Kicks
Pressing Down During The Catch And Pull Through
Overgliding And Removing The Deadspot
Thumb First Hand Entry
Pulling Through Wide / Straight / Crossing Under The Body