Archives for posts with tag: Michael Phelps

We will be continuing to focus on some faster swimming this week as we continue building up to the next set of time trials at the end of March.  However, while we work on faster paced swimming it is still really important to also keep working on your stroke.  One of the main areas many of us could improve is to get a higher-elbow catch by getting your hand lower during the entry into the water.  Please watch this short video from Swim Smooth with a comparison of a swimmer with this fault compared with the strokes of Michael Phelps and others.

Hopefully this will give you some ideas of what is really going on here and why it is important.  So if you think it is something you could improve at what can you do?  My advice is:

  1. Lift your head and look slightly forward once or twice per length to watch your hand entry and check that your hand is lower than your wrist and your wrist is lower than your elbow when it enters the water.
  2. Keep your hand moving all the time after it has entered the water.  Your hand and forearm need to catch up with the water that your body is moving past and you will only get significant propulsion when your forearms are vertical and your hand pointing to the bottom of the pool.  Notice how in the clip of Michael Phelps in the Swim Smooth video he has a lovely long stroke but his hands keep moving forwards and downwards after entering the water.
  3. Be patient with the catch.  Don’t waste energy by inefficiently pressing down on the water after the hand enters the water.  Be patient and wait until your forearm is vertical, and hand pointing downwards, before applying pressure on the water.

You will have plenty of chance to think about this during the session this week during the warm-up, technique subset and the steady-paced 50s of the main set so please do practice and show me how well you can do this!

See you Saturday,




Now that the triathlon season is over for most of us I will be changing the Saturday morning swimming sessions over to Winter training.  That means more slower, aerobic paced swimming than we have been doing plus some more time to focus on technique before Christmas.  This year I plan to include more sets that include different strokes to front crawl as I think this can be really beneficial to most people’s swimming.  Doing different strokes usually makes you a better all-round swimmer by helping you get a better feel for the water and doing more variety can also be good fun!

So what do you want to achieve with your swimming over the Winter?  I think the time between now and Christmas is the ideal time to improve your technique.  It takes time to make changes that stick as old habits die hard and you often will go slower initially as you make adjustments that feel strange.  The increased amount of slower paced swimming and technique work we will be doing will give you time to think about any necessary changes and get them bedded in before you try and use them to start swimming faster in the New Year.

So what changes do you want to make to your stroke, if any?  Faster swimmers usually do fewer strokes per length as their streamlining and feel for the water is better than for slower swimmers.  Lane 1 swimmers on Saturday typically do 16-22 strokes per length but Alex, who leads the lane, can put us all to shame by doing 9-10 strokes per length!  You can reduce your stroke count in many different ways – improved body position (especially keeping your head down), stronger catch, not dropping your elbows underwater, etc. – and you can always ask me, or the other coaches, what they think would be best for you.  Watching good swimmers also helps and Youtube is a great source of good examples (Google any of the greats, such as Michael Phelps, Ian Thorpe or Rebecca Adlington).  However, I believe that there is no single, perfect technique that works for everyone – it is a case of finding the technique that is most effective for you and often this involves some trial and error.

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