PDA

View Full Version : Reaching "down" on freestyle



chlorini
October 13th, 2008, 04:12 PM
Today one of my teammates, probably the fastest swimmer on our team, was telling me that I should think of aiming my hands toward the bottom of the opposite end of the pool rather than of reaching forward before catching. When I watched him swim, it still looked like he was extending forward, so I'm not sure if the move is just subtle or "a feeling" or if it is really a change of arm angle. When I tried to reach down, I felt like I wasn't getting full extension, but he said it looked better. I don't want to go through what feels like a fundamental stroke change unless I'm sure I understand what I'm supposed to be doing. Can someone enlighten me? Thanks!

hofffam
October 13th, 2008, 04:18 PM
I'm not sure about that.....

I suggest you search Youtube for underwater videos of Ian Thorpe, Grant Hackett, or Alexander Popov to see how your reach and catch should look.

daveindc
October 13th, 2008, 04:23 PM
Everything I have heard suggest you should reach as far as possible, however he might be referring to what they call EFV. I am just going to start practicing EFV today, but basically it means Elbow Forearm Vertical. Once you enter the water, you want to get your forearm vertical quickly and maintain a high elbow in the water on the catch.

Glider
October 13th, 2008, 04:28 PM
Close...it's EVF, as in Early Vertical Forearm...Seee Hofffam's response above for examples.


Everything I have heard suggest you should reach as far as possible, however he might be referring to what they call EFV. I am just going to start practicing EFV today, but basically it means Elbow Forearm Vertical. Once you enter the water, you want to get your forearm vertical quickly and maintain a high elbow in the water on the catch.

jim thornton
October 13th, 2008, 04:45 PM
I think what he might have meant is that the hands need to sink a bit before you start executing the pull. If you stretch out as far in front of you as possible, and your hands are still more or less right under the water's surface when you start to pull, you will be pushing on the water in a primarily downwards vector. This won't help you move forward--it will just tire you out and get you nowhere (okay, it might make you bob up a bit.)

As much of the pull as possible should ideally go in a horizontal vector parallel with your body. And you can't do this until the hands have dropped low enough so that they can start moving in this direction. Good freestylers show a little patience in this regard. Your hands should spear, stretch, drop a little, then pull. Think of reaching your arms over a large log. As you near the position necessary to grab the log, that's when you start the pull.

I think that's what your friend means...

chlorini
October 13th, 2008, 05:03 PM
Thanks, Jim. I think that is what he means. It's interesting because I'm always thinking about EVF, but I think because I'm extending straight forward before moving into that position, I am pressing down first. Being more angled on the entry would get there more quickly I suppose. Thanks!

Red60
October 13th, 2008, 05:19 PM
I got a coaching tip at a meet last spring from someone who referred to this as "the press." Meaning that you should press down after you're fully extended/as you fully extend to get a deeper catch and pull. Still integrating it, but it makes sense to me when I do it.

jim thornton
October 14th, 2008, 12:41 AM
You don't necessarily want to spear the water at an angle exactly. It does seem that at the full extension your hands are still only 4-6" or so deep. It's more a matter of letting the hands naturally drop down deeper in a kind of natural way with the body roll--don't push down exactly, just let them drift with a little bit of pressure at most--before initialting the catch. You really don't want to use effort to push water down, hence the need for patience. Ideally, your other hand is still finishing its pull while the forward one is effortlessly dropping.

We've all seen swimmers thrashing in an attempt to go faster, and using an enormous amount of energy trying to move water, albeit in the wrong direction (i.e., pushing straight down the second their extended hands hit the water). It's easier to see what NOT to do than to see what you should do. For what it's worth, in my own (hardly perfect) freestyle, my leading hand is probably at least 12 inches beneathe the surface, and my wrist angled slightly so that my fingertips are pointed towards the pool bottom and my palms are perpendicular to the surface, before I initiate the hard pulling phase. As your hand moves parallel to your body, try to keep the fingertips pointed down towards the bottom, adjusting your wrist from an initial bent-down angle, to flat with your forearm midway through the stroke, to a bent-up angle towards the end of the stroke. This will keep the surface area of your hand pushing water horizontally throughout.

In sprints, I think all bets are off with the catch--you almost have to power your hand into optimum pulling position quickly, and maybe this does involve spearing the water a little more sharply than with distance swimming. It would be good to watch some sprinters underwater in slow motion to see if there strokes are significantly different in this regard than distance swimmers.

To sum up:

1. a bit of patience to allow the speared hand to drop
2. adjust your wrist continuously through the pull phase so as to keep fingertips angled towards the bottom of the pool as much as possible throughout the pull so hand surface maximizes horizontal water movement

craiglll@yahoo.com
October 14th, 2008, 02:01 AM
Jim,

Wonderful. thanks. I am tall and have long arms. I find that if I let my hand sink further than most people say to do i can do EVF

mazzy
October 14th, 2008, 08:00 AM
You don't necessarily want to spear the water at an angle exactly. It's more a matter of letting the hands naturally drop down deeper in a kind of natural way with the body roll--don't push down exactly, just let them drift with a little bit of pressure at most--before initialting the catch. You really don't want to use effort to push water down, hence the need for patience. Ideally, your other hand is still finishing its pull while the forward one is effortlessly dropping.
[....]
For what it's worth, in my own (hardly perfect) freestyle, my leading hand is probably at least 12 inches beneathe the surface, and my wrist angled slightly so that my fingertips are pointed towards the pool bottom and my palms are perpendicular to the surface, before I initiate the hard pulling phase. As your hand moves parallel to your body, try to keep the fingertips pointed down towards the bottom, adjusting your wrist from an initial bent-down angle, to flat with your forearm midway through the stroke, to a bent-up angle towards the end of the stroke. This will keep the surface area of your hand pushing water horizontally throughout.

In sprints, I think all bets are off with the catch--you almost have to power your hand into optimum pulling position quickly, and maybe this does involve spearing the water a little more sharply than with distance swimming. It would be good to watch some sprinters underwater in slow motion to see if there strokes are significantly different in this regard than distance swimmers.

To sum up:

1. a bit of patience to allow the speared hand to drop
2. adjust your wrist continuously through the pull phase so as to keep fingertips angled towards the bottom of the pool as much as possible throughout the pull so hand surface maximizes horizontal water movement

All I've ever read about the front part of catch is totally in agreement with your great post. All the greats swimmers/coaches/authors talks about patience at the start in EVF form, the better you set your arm the better result at the end you'll get, don't rush it, unfortunately most of coach at the local pool completely ignore this crucial part of the stroke, well they ignore EVF at all :(.
The great thorpe is the master of patience at the start, just looking on youtube for tons of examples, a little different is in the 50s, today is more pure brute force, strength that perfect technique, the forearms have not even the time to go full extension before to start going down, a lot of trashing but from 100s and up the patience is there, a little bit in 100, at full in 200s and up.

JMiller
October 14th, 2008, 11:32 AM
Watch this underwater of Sullivan:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQPUlhqVJA4 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQPUlhqVJA4)


Today one of my teammates, probably the fastest swimmer on our team, was telling me that I should think of aiming my hands toward the bottom of the opposite end of the pool rather than of reaching forward before catching. When I watched him swim, it still looked like he was extending forward, so I'm not sure if the move is just subtle or "a feeling" or if it is really a change of arm angle. When I tried to reach down, I felt like I wasn't getting full extension, but he said it looked better. I don't want to go through what feels like a fundamental stroke change unless I'm sure I understand what I'm supposed to be doing. Can someone enlighten me? Thanks!

geochuck
October 14th, 2008, 11:43 AM
That is probably the worst video to watch of Sullivan I would like to see a really good one of his swimming. That is a slowed down sped up one that Lindsay worked on to produce it. We have trouble of getting a good video of his swimming. What we see in that video is fiction repeated and repeated.

Typhoons Coach
October 14th, 2008, 11:54 AM
Jim hist this response on the head for both of his replies! Excellent responses!!

craiglll@yahoo.com
October 14th, 2008, 12:25 PM
I'm not sure if this is exactly with in what we are talking about here but my high school coach used to say your hand should always surprise the water. I always thought this meant that your hand should sort of sneak into the water and never slap it. It requires very relaxed hands. I've heard that really good swimmers will relax their hands so much that their fingers will separate and then come together as they enter the water.

then instead of pushing your hand down, gravity and momentum will move your hand down. this requires your shoulders to be relaxed still. then when you are ready to begin the "push" back your should firms up.

My high school coach's name was A. Fish.

LindsayNB
October 14th, 2008, 01:09 PM
That is probably the worst video to watch of Sullivan I would like to see a really good one of his swimming. That is a slowed down sped up one that Lindsay worked on to produce it. We have trouble of getting a good video of his swimming. What we see in that video is fiction repeated and repeated.

Just for clarity, as it says in the text description next to the video it is a short clip repeated three times, once at normal speed, once at half speed and once at quarter speed. No part of the video is sped up. I am unsure what you mean by "fiction" as it is video from one of his WR setting races.

I guess it is the worst video of Sullivan in the same sense that democracy is the worst form of government, i.e. except for all the others. :rolleyes:

geochuck
October 14th, 2008, 01:55 PM
It is not his true stroke it is a very short sequence which is repeated a few times. I would rather watch a video that is real from start to finish. Is this a true picture of his complete swim. I have watched the original video and the underwater portion looks to be sped up.

ehoch
October 14th, 2008, 05:16 PM
It all really depends on what kind of Freestyle stroke you want to swim. The long - close to catch-up Thorpe like stroke is great for 200+ distance. But it will not work for most swimmers in a 50 or 100 (Lezak would be the exception). I read a comment by Matt Grevers that he actually had to re-learn his Freestyle by pointing his fingers down when entering the water instead of pointing them at the wall.

For the new straight- arm recovery (or close to it), sprinters enter the water ready to pull - they don't need to reach any more.

Here is a link to the very best underwater video I have seen - the 4x100 Free from Beijing:
http://www.nbcolympics.com/video/share.html?videoid=0812_HD_MUL_AU_CE493

You can see almost an entire 50 from Sullivan right underneath him. 50 from Phelps sprinting. You can see somebody like Bousquet doing the straight arm recovery Free, Weber-Gale seems to almost shorten his stroke on purpose, and you get Lezak swimming almost catch-up on one side.

FlyQueen
October 14th, 2008, 05:20 PM
It all really depends on what kind of Freestyle stroke you want to swim. The long - close to catch-up Thorpe like stroke is great for 200+ distance. But it will not work for most swimmers in a 50 or 100 (Lezak would be the exception). I read a comment by Matt Grevers that he actually had to re-learn his Freestyle by pointing his fingers down when entering the water instead of pointing them at the wall.

The new straight- arm recovery or close to it sprinters enter the water ready to pull - they don't need to reach any more.

Here is a link to the very best underwater video I have seen - the 4x100 Free from Beijing:
http://www.nbcolympics.com/video/share.html?videoid=0812_HD_MUL_AU_CE493

You can see almost an entire 50 from Sullivan right underneath him. 50 from Phelps sprinting. You can see somebody like Bousquet doing the straight arm recovery Free, Weber-Gale seems to almost shorten his stroke on purpose, and you get Lezak swimming almost catch-up on one side.


I think the bottom line is you have to experiment and figure out what works best for you. Weber-Gale, Lezak, Sullivan, Phelps, etc. four different swimmers with four different body types. A great coach will be able to help you get the most out of your stroke. Flexibility, strength, age, height, arm length, etc are all factors that are going to influence what your best stroke is.

I would try it out and as long as you are pain free with experiment - see what is comfortable and what seems to work for you.

Chris Stevenson
October 14th, 2008, 07:24 PM
It all really depends on what kind of Freestyle stroke you want to swim. The long - close to catch-up Thorpe like stroke is great for 200+ distance. But it will not work for most swimmers in a 50 or 100 (Lezak would be the exception). I read a comment by Matt Grevers that he actually had to re-learn his Freestyle by pointing his fingers down when entering the water instead of pointing them at the wall.

For the new straight- arm recovery (or close to it), sprinters enter the water ready to pull - they don't need to reach any more.

Here is a link to the very best underwater video I have seen - the 4x100 Free from Beijing:
http://www.nbcolympics.com/video/share.html?videoid=0812_HD_MUL_AU_CE493

You can see almost an entire 50 from Sullivan right underneath him. 50 from Phelps sprinting. You can see somebody like Bousquet doing the straight arm recovery Free, Weber-Gale seems to almost shorten his stroke on purpose, and you get Lezak swimming almost catch-up on one side.

This sort of thing is what would be maddening to me if I were a coach. You have these world-class sprinters who have a lot of differences in their strokes...why? Erik says that "almost catch-up" is not good for the 50/100 but that Lezak is an exception -- why is that?

I am certainly not disputing anything Erik is saying...it just makes blanket statements that "one MUST do so-and-so" a little difficult to take sometimes, because there is almost always a high-profile exception. And sometimes what was once seen as an aberration (eg Janet Evans' straight-arm recovery) eventually becomes more accepted.

Throw in all the factors that Heather mentions...this is far from being an exact science yet.:frustrated: (That doesn't mean we shouldn't try, of course.)

Typhoons Coach
October 15th, 2008, 08:07 AM
I think the bottom line is you have to experiment and figure out what works best for you. Weber-Gale, Lezak, Sullivan, Phelps, etc. four different swimmers with four different body types. A great coach will be able to help you get the most out of your stroke. Flexibility, strength, age, height, arm length, etc are all factors that are going to influence what your best stroke is.

I would try it out and as long as you are pain free with experiment - see what is comfortable and what seems to work for you.

I absolutely agree that a coach should be able to adapt with their swimmers and should not blanket everyone under one category (even though that would make my life so much easier). As you mentioned, as long as there is no injury/pain and you are comfortable in your stroke while making improvements you will be good to go!

daveindc
October 15th, 2008, 09:48 AM
I was working on EFV last night. It feels so amazing. I hope it is faster. I was doing it all wrong before so I can't wait to see what my time is in 2 weeks.

JMiller
October 15th, 2008, 11:58 AM
This sort of thing is what would be maddening to me if I were a coach. You have these world-class sprinters who have a lot of differences in their strokes...why? Erik says that "almost catch-up" is not good for the 50/100 but that Lezak is an exception -- why is that?

Here is something I wrote (a year ago) in an attempt to answer that question.

Usually, I like to stay as far away
as possible from the "technique"
debate. Honestly, I'm surprised to
find myself right back in the thick of it.
I guess that's understandable considering
how obsessed most swimmers are with
the importance of technique. Truthfully,
this debate has nauseated me in the
past for one simple reason.

Swimming is a feeling, not a thought.

That's why I prefer training models that
teach the body to feel, opening up a
different kind of thinking. Words like flow,
feel, pressure, resistance, or anything
that enhances tactile understanding.
At the end of the day, kinesthetic awareness
cannot be fully understood through cognitive
analysis alone.

The fact is, everyone has different strengths
and weaknesses, and these should be explored
on a case by case basis. I would never ask
Popov to swim like Micheal Klim, or vice
versa. (or a younger version of the two)

Which is why the technique debate appears
to be flawed from the start. The question is,
what works best for you? Sure, there are
general rules, but to get the most out
of your swim, you have to reach a more
personal level.

If you're one of those people that absolutely
"needs" to think technique during your swim,
I suggest trying the checklist method. In other
words, think of 5-6 things you'd like to work
on and go through the checklist on a regular
basis. Continually move in your mind from one
point to the other, don't localize in one spot
for too long. This ensures that you don't get
"stuck" on one aspect of your swim, and this
method can actually trick your mind into a
kinesthetic state.

FlyQueen
October 15th, 2008, 01:39 PM
I'd say most people aren't able to just go on feel. I think that is reserved for the few rather than the masses. I also agree that the technique debate is almost pointless. There are definitely things you can do wrong but the spectrum of what's right is much greater.

There will also always be exceptions to any rule - Phelps, Evans, Lezak all have parts of their stroke I would not promote amongst my swimmers. Heck Chris Stevenson has an insanely fast backstroke but I like my shoulders intact too much to ever try and model my backstroke off of his. :notworthy:

I think with years of experience, practice, luck, and talent you can begin to feel what is wrong with your stroke, where errors and slips are, etc.

One great way to work on feel is to swim with your eyes closed - eliminate the visual cues. Note: this can be a bit dangerous. I try to do this frequently and usually not for more than a few strokes before I sneak a peak to make sure I'm not about to kill someone else or ram into a wall or lane line. Another great way is to swim as slowly as possible ... you will inevitably feel your body position, rotation, etc. You can mask it with speed.

chaos
October 15th, 2008, 02:02 PM
i like to show people the benefit of rotation by having them swim a couple of 25's, count their strokes then have them swim a couple of 25's aiming for the bottom of the pool while entering their hands right next to their ears.

result; same or fewer strokes per 25.

why? they are propelling forward with an exagerated high elbow and twisting motion which is not possible if one extends their arm too far before entering the water (quite common)

the challenge: how far forward can you reach without sacraficing rotation and still enter cleanly. only one way to find out.

another point: a deeper catch will counter balance one's sinking legs.
result: kick can be used for propulsion rather than balance.

.......but isn't it all about finding the balance?

JMiller
October 15th, 2008, 02:06 PM
I'd say most people aren't able to just go on feel. I think that is reserved for the few rather than the masses.

Don't get me wrong, tailored verbal feedback and technical instruction is very useful. It's just that, there isn't one solution for everybody, and a good way to discover the differences is to focus on fluid dynamics.



I also agree that the technique debate is almost pointless. There are definitely things you can do wrong but the spectrum of what's right is much greater.

geochuck
October 15th, 2008, 02:56 PM
Wow isn't that an exciting concept.

I still prefer to extend drop to the catch when swimming distance swims. I drop to the catch in a sprit. Rotation is not a new concept some say rotate the shoulders, others say the kick rotates, I have even heard the big toe is the rotator.


i like to show people the benefit of rotation by having them swim a couple of 25's, count their strokes then have them swim a couple of 25's aiming for the bottom of the pool while entering their hands right next to their ears.

result; same or fewer strokes per 25.

why? they are propelling forward with an exagerated high elbow and twisting motion which is not possible if one extends their arm too far before entering the water (quite common)

the challenge: how far forward can you reach without sacraficing rotation and still enter cleanly. only one way to find out.

another point: a deeper catch will counter balance one's sinking legs.
result: kick can be used for propulsion rather than balance.

.......but isn't it all about finding the balance?

ehoch
October 15th, 2008, 03:18 PM
while entering their hands right next to their ears

there you go - he loves this drill and that would be about the last drill I would have anybody do - enter next to their ears - I think that would cost you about 1/3 of your stroke length - but obviously it must work for some people.

All these things though make you wonder about all the swimmers getting the same drills in a large group setting. Catch-up Free may be a great drill for some swimmers - but maybe it just not a good idea for others.

How many swimmers get 1-1 technique advice ?

Chris Stevenson
October 15th, 2008, 03:28 PM
Chris Stevenson ... I like my shoulders intact too much to ever try and model my backstroke off of his.

I have a LOT of rotation in backstroke -- more than most -- and I think that puts less of a strain on the shoulders than the "normal" backstroke. I rotate a lot in free, too. Maybe this is one reason (the other being genetics) I haven't had shoulder problems even after many years of competitive swimming.

chaos
October 15th, 2008, 04:34 PM
How many swimmers get 1-1 technique advice ?

usually anyone who asks.

FlyQueen
October 15th, 2008, 05:11 PM
:smooch:
I have a LOT of rotation in backstroke -- more than most -- and I think that puts less of a strain on the shoulders than the "normal" backstroke. I rotate a lot in free, too. Maybe this is one reason (the other being genetics) I haven't had shoulder problems even after many years of competitive swimming.

Haven't studied your stroke in depth - it appears to have a very deep catch though, right? I have a slight backstroke phobia seeing as that was the stroke :rant3: that caused my labrum tear (working on a deep catch). You know I totally :bow: just using a masters example! :smooch:

mjgold
October 15th, 2008, 05:21 PM
I rotate a lot too, both in front crawl and backstroke. I think it definitely helps with the shoulders, and I think it helps your stroke efficiency too. I know when we do stroke rate drills, the more I rotate (without making it an unnatural motion), the fewer strokes I take per length.

jim thornton
October 15th, 2008, 05:41 PM
I think Chris and Flygirl and others have made excellent points about tailoring the stroke to the individual body. However, I do think there are some basic aspects of hydrodynamics, if you will, that apply to the vast majority of body types. Obviously, strokes have been changing for the past century at least as different swimmers, either through application of physics or accidentally discovering what works (probably more the latter) contribute new refinements.

But in general, for distance swimming, there is an advantage in extending the leading hand initially in the horizontal direction--it makes the human "boat" longer in the water, and for reasons that boat designers understand and I do not, a longer boat is able to move through the water at the same speed with less effort, and/or faster with the same effort, as a shorter boat.

I don't think very many coaches and/or swimming scientists today think there's any advantage to pushing down on the water. In yesteryear, when the high head position was touted as a way of letting a swimmer hydroplane on top of the water, maybe a little downwards propulsion was rationalized as a way of further facilitating this. But I am pretty sure that most observers today have concluded that pushing down on the water uses up energy without moving you forward.

Sprinting is much more purely propulsion-driven than distance swimming, which requires long-hull drag cutting to ensure what propulsion you do muster can last throughout the race. A short boat with a giant motor can beat a long boat with a smaller motor in a sprint. But it's likely to run out of gas over the longer haul.

These basic principles seem to apply to most swimmers, regardless of body type. Maximizing propulsion and slicing drag are two different aspects, and they can't always be given equal focus if you are to do well in a given race. Sprinters need to emphasize the former at the partial expense of the latter, or risk being left behind. Distance swimmers need to emphasize the latter in order to ration the former, or risk running out of gas prematurely. How much tradeoff there is between these two demands varies somewhat among different body types, but the basic dilemma and choice is something all must face to some degree.

chaos
October 15th, 2008, 06:02 PM
my comments in bold



But in general, for distance swimming, there is an advantage in extending the leading hand initially in the horizontal direction--it makes the human "boat" longer in the water, and for reasons that boat designers understand and I do not, a longer boat is able to move through the water at the same speed with less effort, and/or faster with the same effort, as a shorter boat.yes, but many swimmers develop an upward scoop with their hand. this has no benefit. another undesirable result from over reaching (without rotation) is the dreaded fish-tail.

I don't think very many coaches and/or swimming scientists today think there's any advantage to pushing down on the water. In yesteryear, when the high head position was touted as a way of letting a swimmer hydroplane on top of the water, maybe a little downwards propulsion was rationalized as a way of further facilitating this. But I am pretty sure that most observers today have concluded that pushing down on the water uses up energy without moving you forward.i would differentiate between "pushing down" and "driving down" ...more specifically driving to the catch position. (for me, finger tips are somewhere between 12 and 18 inches below the surface) my focus it to get them (finger tips) there in an eliptical arch rather than a straight line.

Chris Stevenson
October 15th, 2008, 10:28 PM
Haven't studied your stroke in depth - it appears to have a very deep catch though, right? I have a slight backstroke phobia seeing as that was the stroke that caused my labrum tear (working on a deep catch).

Heck, you've probably looked at it more than I -- I rarely look at video, probably should -- but I would think it is the angle rather than the depth that is important. Whenever I've tweaked my shoulder badly it is when I'm reaching behind me (eg, reaching to the backseat for a map). I would think the more you rotate the the safer on your shoulders...

But now you've made me nervous too. Don't listen to anything I say, then you can't blame me for tearing something new. :)

FlyQueen
October 15th, 2008, 11:44 PM
Heck, you've probably looked at it more than I -- I rarely look at video, probably should -- but I would think it is the angle rather than the depth that is important. Whenever I've tweaked my shoulder badly it is when I'm reaching behind me (eg, reaching to the backseat for a map). I would think the more you rotate the the safer on your shoulders...

But now you've made me nervous too. Don't listen to anything I say, then you can't blame me for tearing something new. :)

hahaha ...

I've obviously seen your stroke but not really watched - do you think you have a deep catch? My shoulder got angry when I tried for the deep catch without rotation.

You hit the nail on the head that I need to work on rotation and that there are many swimmers that need to do that. It's one of those things that is a good idea for everyone.

I was just using your stroke as a "real life masters" example of how one stroke can work for one person but maybe not for others. :)

craiglll@yahoo.com
October 16th, 2008, 04:10 AM
One thing that allows for a deep catch is that statement I truly believe in is "Where the head goes so goes the body."

bud
October 16th, 2008, 07:55 PM
... Swimming is a feeling, not a thought....
Wow! Very cool post!

I was chatting up a coach one day and he mentioned how the kids from his team would come up to him wanting to know how to swim like Michael Phelps. His response to them is that he can't do that, because they were not him, and he would then basically tell them, "But I can teach you to swim like you". Made a lot of sense to me.

I agree with a number of folks here on this MB... you can analyze this stuff to death, but for most folks I believe that approach is lost. I think it is somewhat a cultural phenomenon. In our fast paced, hi-tech "information" society, where always striving for perfection is considered "normal", we are now pretty thoroughly programmed to believe that more information is better.

If you want to set records (especially national and world), get into the USMS top ten, etc., then you probably need all that information... but probably only so that your brain is totally wired to swimming... especially for a particular event.

(As for specialization, take the recent accomplishments of Dara Torres for example. She drops out of the 100 free at the 2008 Olympics to stay competitive, yet in the 4x100 free relay she claimed the 2nd fastest split. Huh? Out of the 24 fastest women in the world, she is #2, yet she can't compete in the individual event? Don't get me wrong, I fully understand WHY she did what she did, but my point with this nugget is that the endless minutia on details of technique are probably only going to benefit people who possess the sort of mindset that Dara had in her approach to her performance in the 2008 Olympics.)

I believe that highly detailed advice is only going to be beneficial to perhaps 5% or less of folks who swim. That is because for most folks the emphasis of their swimming is fitness, along with an occasional jaunt to a swim meet or OW event.

"This is a simple game... you throw the ball, you hit the ball, you catch the ball!" - the Coach in the shower scene (from the movie Bull Durham) where he follows Crash's advice to "scare 'em".

:)