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Nov 22, 2008

Early Vertical Forearm Explained (Learn to catch water in your freestyle stroke)

It looks like that the most requested topic in the last poll on the Swimator blog is about freestyle. Well, let me talk to you about how to get the most power out of your stroke. After you learn how to properly hold your body in the water and relax you can move on to starting to use your arms to propel yourself forward. There are several phases to freestyle arm movement in swimming, but for this post I'll only focus on the so called "catch" at the beginning of the stroke.
Like wrapping your arm
around a barrel

One of the key things you need to do at the beginning of your freestyle stroke (that is when your fingers enter the water up front) is to make sure that you actually catch as much water as possible. Imagine wrapping your arm around a barrel which is laying on its side. You need to reach over the barrel keeping your elbow up high in order for your arm to bent and grab the barrel. This is called getting your initial catch for your stroke. The picture below sort of illustrates what I mean, but in this guy's case, he is only half way and if he were doing our exercise, he'd continue to move his fingers down the barrel until his chest would touch it and his elbow would be nicely bent. Then he'd push the barrel behind him, so it rolls off. In other words, he anchors his hand right in front of the barrel and then move his body over the barrel (if he were in t e water).

So, now you understand what you need to do. To help you with this, there exists a special paddle called the TechPaddle and also the Antipaddle. These inventions for swimming enthusiasts are quite nice for beginners and also more advanced swimmers to learn how to actually catch water and not drop their elbow. Most beginner and many experienced swimmers drop their elbow which means their elbow is leading the way under the water when executing their freestyle stroke. Instead, try keeping the elbow at the surface and have your palm lead the way towards the back. The TechPaddle and the Antipaddle helps you with this quite nicely. Below you will see a great explanation of the way this should be done and how the TechPaddle helps you. Don't get scared by the title Early Vertical Forearm (EVF). In laymen terms it just means do not drop the elbow and catch water in your early stroke.






If you end up buying or you are already using the TechPaddle or the Antipaddle, please do let us know how that worked out for you.

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