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Visual Cues To Make You A Better Swimmer

  • By Jené Shaw
  • Published May 10, 2014
  • Updated May 12, 2014 at 7:07 AM UTC

Avoid common swimming mistakes with help from these visual cues.

The experts at SwimLabs use creative analogies to illustrate and explain technique tweaks. Some of our favorites:

Problem: Not properly finishing the stroke.
Do this: Press the hand to the hips and think kayak paddling—the paddle finishes right next to the boat and it helps align and straighten it out. The same goes for swimming. Finish strong to help your other arm set up the top of the stroke.

Problem: Crossing over.
Do this: Picture “riding the rail”—keep hands following the side of the body to the hips like railroad tracks. And try the Elbow Pop Drill: Put one hand on a kickboard, preferably using a snorkel, then upon entry, track your arm from shoulder to hips. Pause at shoulder position to give yourself time to make sure fingertips are pointing down and elbow is lower than your shoulder.

RELATED: The Most Effective Way To Become A Better Swimmer

Problem: A flat hand entry. Many swimmers also lead with the thumb and their hands end up way outside the shoulder in an “outsweep” motion.
Do this: Adjust ever so slightly having the pinkie down so you start the stroke closer to the shoulder.

Problem: Rushing the stroke. Don’t flail your arms like an old-fashioned pinwheel, instead slow down to swim fast.
Do this: Reach Out Drill. Extend your arm forward, setting up the beginning of the stroke, with your hand below the elbow and elbow below shoulder. Do a two-count, then bend the elbow to start the catch.

Problem: “Riding the bike” as you kick.
Do this: Focus on a straight-leg kick, initiated from the hip not the knees. Think “crack the whip” and let the ankle flex to finish the kick.

RELATED – Swim Tip: Coordinate Your Breathing With Your Stroke

To view filmed demonstrations of these drills, courtesy of SwimLabs, go to Triathlete.com/swimlabsdrills.

FILED UNDER: Swim / Training

Jené Shaw

Jené Shaw

Jené Shaw is a senior editor at Triathlete magazine, a four-time Ironman finisher and a USAT Level 1 certified coach

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