When you think of elite swimmers, the likes of Ian Thorpe and Michael Phelps come to mind. They have the classic long, smooth stroke style that many swimmers aspire to. You may have spent hours at the pool trying to recreate this particular stroke style, but it tends to require a tall swimmer with a powerful leg kick to get the most out of it.
|Ian Thorpe has the classic long, smooth stroke style, but it is not for everyone!|
Could you actually be better suited to another stroke style? In fact, there are two stroke styles that elite swimmers use. This second stroke style is used by many shorter, elite swimmers and nearly all elite triathletes and open water swimmers - the "swinger" style. To the onlooker, it can appear a bit scrappy and unorthodox due to the fast, punchy stroke style, but it is incredibly efficient. This stroke may suit you much better and have you swimming much faster and more efficiently, so why not give it a go? Try moving in that direction with your stroke technique for a few weeks and see how it feels.
Run through each key element to experiment with:
- Recover the arms higher over the water using a slightly straighter arm. This arm positioning is ideal for tackling choppy, open water swim conditions.
- Get more quickly into your catch at the front and develop a better sense of rhythm. Try lifting stroke rate by 4-8 SPM using a Finis Tempo Trainer Pro. This continuous momentum at the front of the stroke means that one arm starts at the front of the stroke before the other arm has finished at the back.
- Consciously reduce kick effort, kick just enough to keep the legs high in the water. Many swingers often use a 2 beat leg kick, which you can read about here: http://www.feelforthewater.com/2014/02/should-you-be-using-two-beat-kick.html
### GIF OF SWINGER###
Fundamentally, the "swinger" stroke style is about using a slightly shorter stroke with a faster turnover (equivalent to spinning a smaller gear in cycling). Don't overdo it but introduce some of these elements to your stroke and see how they feel. Persevere for a few sessions and see the impact that this has on your speed and efficiency in the water. Find out if you have more fun as a swinger!