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Coley Stickels has coached National Age Group record holders and Olympic Trials finalists and in this segment, he presents 5 key ideas that need to be understood and reinforced if the swimmer is to improve his or her freestyle performance.
The first key is the need for a high elbow catch with the elbow out in front of the head. 2nd, he explains that underwater video of top swimmers show they move their hand under the body so that their thumb moves by their belly button and then pushes into the outsweep. 3rd, Stickels demonstrates how the distance swimmer enters the hand near the head and sways the arm outward while the sprinter’s entering arm and hand resemble a claw. 4th, he demonstrates the need for a quick breath and return to a flat position before the recovery hand enters the water with the breath taken in an air-pocket and a long high neck. 5th, Stickels explains that distance freestylers utilize considerable body roll in their stroke while sprinters stay fairly flat in the water.
Larry Stoegbauer, the strength coach for swimmers at New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois, has put together a drill that allows the coach and the swimmer to measure the progress and improvement in building strength and power for swimming.
The swimmer places a belt around his or her waist connected to a strap approximately the length of the pool with a bar bell weight of between 10 to 95 lbs. attached. The weight is placed in the deep end of the pool and the strap is curled around a backstroke start handle and out to the swimmer. The swimmer then sprints to the other end of the pool towing the weight across the pool bottom to the starting block. As the swimmer gains strength, the weight is increased.
Claire Donahue, Olympic and World Championships Gold Medalist, and Tyler McGill, 2012 Olympian, simplify the Butterfly by demonstrating a drill that emphasizes great technique. This involves performing a simple dive off the blocks with a pull buoy that forces the swimmer to squeeze their legs for a clean entry.
A clean entry on the start is crucial for maximizing speed off the start.
Great sprinters place great emphasis on the minor details which can make a big difference in a race. Kara Lynn Joyce, 4x Olympic Silver Medalist, does a great job explaining and demonstrating all three phases of the breakout here in this video.
The three phases to an excellent full breakout are: a good push off the wall, tight streamline, and an explosive kick and pull.
CHECK OUT more valuable insight from “Sprint Freestyle with Kara Lynn Joyce and Jimmy Feigen.” VIEW other world class Freestyle videos in our massive Swimming library!
Get a rare look at what it’s like to train like an Olympian! Six time Olympic Medalist, Matt Grevers, goes over his favorite drill called the ‘Double Arm Backstroke.’ This exercise helps you work on your hand positioning and pull.
Use a normal flutter kick throughout this drill. Your hands will exit the water leading with your thumbs, and enter the water leading with your pinky fingers. Make sure that your hands during the pull are about 6-8 inches below the surface.