If you've seen a "Smooth" Swim Type
in action, you may have felt a little jealous of their silky smooth
stroke which allows them to slip through the water, seemingly
effortlessly. Of course they're not actually effortless, they're working
as hard as any other swimmer but they're so controlled and smooth that
it looks deceptively easy.
Elite swimmers such as Rebecca Adlington and Jono Van Hazel
epitomise this long smooth stroke style but there are many strong
masters swimmers and fast swimming triathletes who swim this way too.
Despite these swimmers looking like a picture of perfection, there are a
couple of stroke flaws that Smooths exhibit
Flaw 1: Turning The Hand Outwards At Full Extension
the hand outwards at full extension is quite subtle and you may need to
watch a swimmer from the end of the lane swimming towards you to see it
Like many Smooths, elite triathlete
Guy Crawford has a
tendency to turn his hand outwards at full extension.
the hand out harms the initiation of the catch that follows and can
cause the elbow to drop slightly underwater as the swimmer leans on it,
lessening their engagement with the water. This might happen on either
or both sides of the stroke.
A good visualisation to help correct
this movement is to become aware of the middle finger on each hand as
you swim. Enter the water and extend forwards, keeping that middle
finger pointing gun-barrel straight down the lane, even on a breathing
stroke. By straightening out the lead hand you should immediately feel a
better sense of rhythm and fluidity to the stroke.
Flaw 2: Late Breathing Timing
breathing timing involves turning the head away from the arm as it
enters the water and extends forwards. If you were to watch this in slow
motion, the head turns slightly ahead of
Guys's breathing timing is excellent, rotating his head to breathe just ahead of his body roll.
looks easy but it's surprising how many Smooths have late timing where
the shoulders roll and then the head turns slightly
afterwards. The resultant window of time available to breathe is
reduced and this can make a big difference to your breathing efficiency.
When you see a swimmer with late breathing timing, their head appears
to flick to the side in a jerky action instead of turning smoothly.
your breathing timing is late, you may be completely unaware it is
happening. You can check by consciously turning the head away from lead
arm as you enter and extend forwards on the breathing stroke. Try it the
next time you're in the water, improved breathing timing should feel
smoother and more relaxed.
Smooths And Stroke Correction
are very proprioceptive swimmers who normally make changes to their
stroke very easily, however they may find these two particular habits
hard to break. Be persistent and expect the changes to take about six sessions before they feel "right".
Take heart if you're not so smooth in the water yourself, sometimes great swimmers find improving their stroke challenging too!