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xxsprint
July 10th, 2008, 04:30 PM
Hi, I am a new swimmer, just making sure that I get my technique right in the freestyle stroke.

I have been watching videos of elites, and it looks like at the point of entry of the arm extended, the hand stays in that position (barely underwater) for several moments before it moves quickly back to the thigh and out of the water. Is there supposed to be that sort of "pause" before the ballistic motion of swinging the arm back (in the windmill fashion)?

This video has a good example of what I'm talking about - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ax77_hHq9Dc

Does that look like the right technique overall for the freestyle stroke? It seems kind of off to me.

Also, I guess I don't really understand how to breathe properly. When I turn my head to the side I often suck in water. In the videos of the elite races I can't even see their face come out of the water! How do you get the breath?

Thanks for your help.

Ripple
July 10th, 2008, 06:39 PM
Hi, I am a new swimmer, just making sure that I get my technique right in the freestyle stroke.

I have been watching videos of elites, and it looks like at the point of entry of the arm extended, the hand stays in that position (barely underwater) for several moments before it moves quickly back to the thigh and out of the water. Is there supposed to be that sort of "pause" before the ballistic motion of swinging the arm back (in the windmill fashion)? ...
Does that look like the right technique overall for the freestyle stroke? It seems kind of off to me.

What seems off about it? They are trying to maintain a streamlined position for as long as possible between strokes. Water is nearly 900 times denser than air, you get more forward momentum by streamlining as much as you can and slipping through it than by trying to muscle through it.


Also, I guess I don't really understand how to breathe properly. When I turn my head to the side I often suck in water. In the videos of the elite races I can't even see their face come out of the water! How do you get the breath?
Thanks for your help.

If you are swimming flat on your stomach and trying to turn your face out of the water, it's a sure recipe for a sore neck and/or inhaling water. Your whole body rotates (roughly 30 to 45 degrees) and your head follows your shoulder around. The stroke is sort of like "skating" from side to side, with your body sides as the skate blade.

geochuck
July 10th, 2008, 06:50 PM
What a great video. I don't think that you will find that is a full out sprint. His technique is outstanding.

marksman
July 10th, 2008, 07:37 PM
That kind of late pull seems to prevail in races > 100m...

I haven't seen that many 50M and 100M freestylers using it. Their pulls begin almost immediately when their hands enter the water it seems? e.g.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRL0Q6TQLI

although I seem to recall Thorpe managing to swim some really fast 100's with more of a catch-up style stroke.

quicksilver
July 10th, 2008, 08:09 PM
That kind of late pull seems to prevail in races > 100m...

I haven't seen that many 50M and 100M freestylers using it. Their pulls begin almost immediately when their hands enter the water it seems? e.g.


You're correct. Most sprinters swim with a rotary stroke.
One arm is always opposite the other. (Not what was seen in the first post.)

Phelps was swimming with a text book front quadrant stroke. The underwater hand doesn't pull back until the recovery arm is in the zone of the shoulder region.
Like a catch up stroke but not quite as pronounced. Thorpe swam that way too.

Nice Phelps video.

xxsprint
July 10th, 2008, 08:14 PM
wow, thats a strong cat!

quicksilver
July 10th, 2008, 08:18 PM
wow, thats a strong cat!

He's in training for sprint races. ;)

taruky
July 10th, 2008, 10:40 PM
The theory behind that style of stroke is that the longer the "vessel", i.e. boat or body, the faster it goes. So the aim is to have one arm always in the water in front of the swimmer's shoulders at any given time.

bud
July 11th, 2008, 12:36 AM
... Is there supposed to be that sort of "pause" before the ballistic motion of swinging the arm back (in the windmill fashion)?

Try reading the (part of the) article I mention in this post about how Ian Thorpe has a pause in his stroke:
http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?p=64012#post64012
You may find the rest of that thread (and links) useful as well.

I mention it again in this post:
http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?p=58756#post58756
You may find that thread (and links) useful as well.

I know the archives can seem rather cluttered, but once you learn how to search them (especially the advanced search which allows user name & key words) , you will find a whole lot of good information for what you are looking for.

Great vid of Phelps... love the fishbowl shot! Thanks!

If you can get vids loaded into Quicktime (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QuickTime) you can pause them and then use the arrow L&R keys to advance them one frame at a time... excellent tool for analysis!



Also, I guess I don't really understand how to breathe properly. When I turn my head to the side I often suck in water. In the videos of the elite races I can't even see their face come out of the water! How do you get the breath?
As previously mentioned... body roll is important. As you study up on this it will be more obvious. Coach Emmet Hines (http://www.h2oustonswims.org/articles_whole.html) has some good articles on this.

Additionally... as you gain momentum (reduce wiggle, gain steady balance and head position, etc.) you will notice that a small wallow forms in the water, like a bow wave, this is why it appears that some swimmers are breathing under water. If you watch enough vids (or swimmers) you will eventually "get" this.

While this youtube vid of Alexander Popov swimming technique does not really illustrate this, you may find some of the tips and examples useful.

Have Fun!

LindsayNB
July 11th, 2008, 10:16 AM
The thing that struck me most about that Phelps video is that he is swimming largely underwater only the recovering arm breaking the surface and bringing himself to the surface to breath, which explains the asymmetry.

xxsprint
July 11th, 2008, 11:34 AM
how often do people usually breathe on each side (assuming it is bilateral)?

what exactly is the "recovery" phase? what part of the stroke?

geochuck
July 11th, 2008, 11:39 AM
Every third stroke is the most common sequence for bilateral breathing.

xxsprint
July 11th, 2008, 08:49 PM
what exactly is the "recovery" phase? what part of the stroke?

Also, another question. 99% of the time when I turn to take a breath I seem to be breathing in water. I can't figure out how to make this stop. I feel like I am rotating my head (and body) to the side, but I am still sucking in water. I don't think I am making a "bow wave," so that may be the problem, but I don't know how to do that....

I know I am asking a lot of questions, I'm just trying to get this right...:)

geochuck
July 11th, 2008, 09:28 PM
Recovery stage is after the one arm is extracted from the water til it is ready to enter the water again.

You may have some water in the mouth you get rid of it before you breathe in. Or just don't let it go in to your lungs. Even if you have water in your mouth you do not have to breathe the water in.

LindsayNB
July 11th, 2008, 09:35 PM
Also, another question. 99% of the time when I turn to take a breath I seem to be breathing in water. I can't figure out how to make this stop. I feel like I am rotating my head (and body) to the side, but I am still sucking in water. I don't think I am making a "bow wave," so that may be the problem, but I don't know how to do that....

I know I am asking a lot of questions, I'm just trying to get this right...:)

Get a friend with a digital camera with video capture mode to video your stroke and post it on youtube. Then we can tell you what you are doing wrong.

Alternately, try pushing off on your side with one arm extended in front, the other at your side. You should be able to turn your head minimally and breath easily. Then recover the arm at your side and pull with the extend arm to switch to gliding/kicking on the other side. This gliding/kicking/stroking should allow you to play with your balance in the water and learn to breath in a relaxed way. Check out the Total Immersion web site for more details.

bud
July 12th, 2008, 12:16 AM
what exactly is the "recovery" phase? what part of the stroke?.... Also, another question. 99% of the time when I turn to take a breath I seem to be breathing in water. I can't figure out how to make this stop. I feel like I am rotating my head (and body) to the side, but I am still sucking in water. I don't think I am making a "bow wave," so that may be the problem, but I don't know how to do that....

I know I am asking a lot of questions, I'm just trying to get this right...:)
Don't worry about asking a lot of questions.

How you start your recovery (the point where the hand begins to "recover" for the next stroke) is going to have a huge effect on how you breathe.

For Front Crawl (a.k.a. "Freestyle")... Try starting you recovery by exiting "elbow first". This helps to allow the shoulders stretch out in either direction (forward and back) as the body rolls, elongating your shape in the water (i.e. streamlining). This also helps keep your recovery very streamlined (not wide, like in Butterfly). Both these items will make it easier to turn the head for a breath. (The "fingertip drag" and "zipper" drills are very popular here... starting the recovery "elbow first" makes these quite easy and natural.)

I find that a really good learning tool is to simply try different things as you swim. Focus on one point of your stroke for each pool length for example, during different parts of your practice.

As for breathing in front crawl there are a number of things you can try... here are a few examples (feel free to be creative and make up a few of your own):
1. Try lifting the head up (forward) slightly as you breathe. This is typically the "kiss of death", especially if you are just learning to refine your stroke and work things out. Lifting the head forces the hips down, which creates more drag... and throws off your streamlining and balance. This is the most common mistake folks make, but it is good to try it intentionally, just for comparison.
2. Go the other way and try to "swim downhill", keeping the chin closer to the chest/shoulder as you swim and breathe... notice the differences between this and #1 above.
3. The best place to breathe is likely somewhere in between. If you are swimming often enough you will have plenty of time to experiment. Don't forget to have some fun with it too.

Don't expect to figure this out all at once. Be patient, and be kind to yourself. It could take days, weeks, months, or even longer to "get it"... depending on how often you swim... along with other factors.


As I mentioned... You won't get the cavity(wallow)/bow-wave effect unless you have some momentum. You can still get a good, clean breath without a lot of momentum however. You just have to find your spot for it.

Just practice, study, and practice... and repeat. Eventually the solution will reveal itself to you... especially when you can just relax into it and enjoy the experience.

BTW...
I find it nearly impossible to go through an entire practice without getting some water in my mouth (especially when an oncoming wave hits me in the face just as I'm about to breathe). I know, not a real pleasant thought hygienically (I definitely DO NOT swallow it!, so it has to go back in the pool), but it is just the nature of the beast. You will eventually learn to work around this, as I'm pretty sure we all have done (and still do).

Again... as always... Have Fun With It Too!
...

quicksilver
July 12th, 2008, 05:49 AM
how often do people usually breathe on each side (assuming it is bilateral)?

what exactly is the "recovery" phase? what part of the stroke?


Bud referred to Coach Hines in an earlier reply, and Houston swims is his home page.
It's a really good resource for technical information.

http://h2oustonswims.org/

http://www.svl.ch/svlimmat_ratind.html#schwimmen
http://www.svl.ch/FreestyleStrokeTiming/

geochuck
July 12th, 2008, 11:17 AM
Quicksilver this site is one of the best sites on the internet for it's analysis of swim strokes.

I have referred to it for several years.



http://www.svl.ch/svlimmat_ratind.html#schwimmen
http://www.svl.ch/FreestyleStrokeTiming/

quicksilver
July 12th, 2008, 12:28 PM
I have referred to it for several years.

It really is a great site.
I have to give credit to Coach Hines who had been posting here when the forum first started up.

He offered really valuable links...including that one.

swimcat
July 12th, 2008, 04:01 PM
i recently changed my freestyle stroke to more catch up,like (i only swim freestyle in my IM , i don't often race it). i now take less strokes, than before. however, it would have to change on a sprint 50.

bud
July 12th, 2008, 04:56 PM
...
http://www.svl.ch/svlimmat_ratind.html#schwimmen
http://www.svl.ch/FreestyleStrokeTiming/
that is a great site...
this page has some excellent text and photos too:
http://www.svl.ch/crawl/freestyle.html

...

xxsprint
July 12th, 2008, 08:11 PM
thanks guys for all your help! today i swam from one end of the pool to the other, the correct way, for the first time. it just clicked. i figure, if im going to get into swimming, im going to do it right.