Pull with Power - Freestyle Pull Technique

Posted by | February 18, 2015 | Events, Training, Triathlon Training | No Comments

Working on my swim technique has been exciting; as I make small changes in technique I experience a huge difference in my stoke power and swimming speed.   Two swim clinics with Aktiv Life have made a great impact on my swimming already.  I am looking forward to the next clinic this Friday!

Small changes to arm position can make a significant difference to the efficiency of the freestyle pull.  Here is the key that Wolfgang Guembel emphasized:  Keep the elbow above the hand to use the full force of the forearm to push the most amount of water to propel you forwards.  Often swimmers focus on a high elbow in the arm, before entering the water.  This is deceiving, as the key is to keep that elbow above the hand and wrist when entering and pulling THROUGH the water to ensure maximum power.  This has made a huge difference to my freestyle stroke.

A second key to stroke improvement is to lengthen the stoke.  The goal is to fully complete the arm stroke; this is the most economical stoke and produces the best results.  This is counter-intuitive to many new swimmers who think that a faster stoke, will make them swim faster.  In water, that faster, less efficient stroke means more water pushing back against the swimmer and much energy is expended in the end, without a smooth push forwards.  Research has shown that the swimmers with the longest stokes are the most economical swimmers (Joe Friel, “the Triathlete’s Training Bible”)  To practice this, start counting number of stokes per length of the pool and strive to take 10 % fewer strokes per length.  This will force  you to lengthen your stoke and focus on your form.


Swimming On Your Side: GOAL – To practice reducing drag by cutting through the water on your side and rolling the hips and shoulders to the side.  Start by doing a full length of the pool on your left side, with the left arm extended ahead of you and the right arm resting on your hip.  Switch sides for the next length.  Fins can be worn to assist with a weak kick.  Once you have mastered swimming on the side, practice rolling from one side to the other after a three-count pause on each side.  Focus  on the arm position, keeping the elbow above the hand as it enters and moves slowly through the water.

Catch Up: GOAL – To increase distance per stroke:  Focusing on one arm at a time, when the right arm is at the top part of the stroke in the water, it pauses in the position, until the left arm meets it; then stroke with the right arm, with the left arm pausing in the same position, until the right arm catches up with it; keep alternating arms, waiting for the other arm to “catch up”.  Focus on a long, full stroke with each arm.

One-Arm Freestyle:  GOAL – to increase distance per stroke:  Focusing only on one arm pulling through the water, while the other arm  rests in the water above the head, in streamline position.

Watch a video:  3 Drills to Improve Freestyle , demonstrating the above drills!

Jump into a swim clinic to practice your technique.  This Friday our swimming technique will be captured on video with the use of a professional underwater camera.  Come join us at 6am at the Boys and Girls Club in Niagara Falls.

Janine Moffett

About Janine Moffett

I am a mother of three incredible children, work full time as an instructor therapist, and love to run. I have run 11 marathons, with a personal best of 2:57. This past April I ran my third Boston Marathon. I love challenges and began exploring the world of triathlons in 2014. I completed my first half Ironman at Muskoka in fall 2014 and came first in my age group. Now I am taking on the challenge of a Full Ironman, which I am planning for September, 2015. I believe we need to keep trying new things and embrace life to the fullest. I hope I can provide inspiration and insights to others.

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