After spotting issues is a breeze, the next step in the swimming education is to figure out how to improve those issues. Some are easy to fix with common swimming drills, others require a bit more thinking outside the box to help the individual overcome the issue. What they all require though is patience and dedication from the swimmer to repeat the "correct" movements over and over until mastered.
Below you will find a short freestyle swimming video which includes four identified problems with the swimmer’s stroke. These are the biggest problems in the video preventing the swimmer to get to the next level of his swimming success. They are all easily fixed with a persistent and patient training, bringing great speed improvements to you as a swimmer or triathlete. So, please watch the video below and then scroll down for more detailed discussion of the spotted mistakes.
The KickIf we look at the swimmer’s outline from the front, knowing that the body should be as small as possible, the image is suddenly disturbed with a very deep kick which protrudes behind the swimmer causing unnecessary resistance to the forward motion.
|Deep kick causes drag|
As you have guessed it, the idea here is that the kick should be small and shallow and the swimmer should not rely on it for balance. To start with, an awareness of the kick needs to be brought to the attention of the swimmer during the swim. We can try using the analogy of rubbing the toes over each other or putting fins on. Then of course, doing a lot of balance drills like kicking on a side or floating at the surface will help with less reliance on the large kick for balance. The knee driven kick is a bit tougher to fix as to this day, there is no tool which could simply put the legs in the right position. Make sure the kick comes out of the hip with the knee only ever slightly bending while it gives into the pressure of the water.
Body and Arm AlignmentKeeping your hands pointing in the direction where you want to go, therefore, keeping them inline with your body when up in front is a must. In this case, the swimmer has a problem with one arm deviating from the long axis, especially when breathing. Remember, your body should roll as one, like a tree log.
|Left arm going away from center line|
The CatchThe front catch is an advanced skill which takes some understanding to master. The swimmer on the video has some signs of an initial catch phase, but then is not able to hold the catch throughout the stroke, therefore, propel himself forward with the forearm like a paddle.
|Deep arm without a catch|
The Lower Body LevelMost beginner triathletes and swimmers struggle with the concept of having their bodies in a horizontal parallel alignment with the surface of the water. This causes them to swim a bit uphill with inflated chests high up and tired legs down. In this swimmer on the video, this issue is quite visible during the breath, when the lower back just falls down below the surface.
|Lower back curve - spine not straight|
If your misalignment happens during the breathing cycle, then the problem is not really in your lower back, but in the way you rotate your body. Which brings us again, yes you guessed it, to the balancing drills on sides. :). Master the hip rotation and balance with a nice straight spine and you are 80% there. The rest is just finetuning.
I hope you learned something useful in the analysis and have some material to work on in your swim routines. Keep in mind that everyone is unique and we all need different stimuli to help us achieve our goals, but there are basic principles that need to be mastered to get off the ground. In swimming, one of the key principles is the ability to balance your body alone without your legs and arms.