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Thread: Need advice on single-arm strokes

  1. #1
    Participating Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Hawthorne, CA

    Need advice on single-arm strokes

    Thanks to cervical spine issues, I can't use my left arm for repetitive overhead movements. I'm interested in advice on which strokes might be possible with one arm. My goal is an aerobic/anaerobic heart rate for an hour, not elapsed time per distance. I'd also be interested in any reference material. Kicking for 2000 yards is becoming boring. Don P

  2. #2
    Very Active Member
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    Jul 2007
    Pittsburgh, PA

    Re: Need advice on single-arm strokes

    My coach recommended something she called the "Combat side stroke." I never tried it, but I guess the Seals use it. I think their variation usually uses both arms, but it can be modified.

  3. #3
    Very Active Member ForceDJ's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Portsmouth, RI

    Re: Need advice on single-arm strokes

    I was going to suggest sidestroke too. I swim and part-time lifeguard at a pool on a Navy base. The guys getting ready to go into SEAL training do sidestroke all the time. Some of them really perfect it and move pretty swiftly. The only thing the "combat" sidestroke you recover both arms to over your head. As you can't do that. I was thinking that you could swim it in a way (or, on the side) that makes the arm you can't put over your head as the arm that pushes from the waist. At about three minutes into this video it will show you the armstroke for a more conventional sidestroke where one arm only goes as high as your chest.


  4. #4
    Very Active Member __steve__'s Avatar
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    Aug 2009
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    Re: Need advice on single-arm strokes

    During shoulder surgery recovery I spent a few months swimming 1 arm freestyle. Just basic freestyle movements, rotation, and kick, breathing to side of static arm which dragged along by the side. Sometimes I used a front mounted snorkel, that made it easier. Swimming like this really brought up the heart rate, encourages rotation, and can spark life into a lazy kick. On a cautionary side, it can place more load on the working shoulder - don’t want to injure the one good swimming arm available. I would typically swim sets of 25’s - 100’s.
    I am familiar with the combat stroke but I have not tried it with one arm. If it does work it will likely be slower than 1 arm free

  5. #5
    Very Active Member Swimspire's Avatar
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    Aug 2013

    Re: Need advice on single-arm strokes

    Upper body injuries are, unfortunately, quite frequent in swimming, but as Steve mentioned, many swimmers use these injuries as an opportunity to work on developing their kick through the single arm and other kicking-related drills. These drills are definitely an effective way to continue to maintain strength and conditioning in swimming while recovering from (or managing) an injury or pain in the upper body.

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