On Saturday I went to a freestyle clinic with the University of Utah swim coach, Joe Dykstra. The clinic was hosted by South Davis Masters and was only $25 to register.
The clinic started with some dryland instruction with in-water demonstration by on of the assistant coaches. Joe did an excellent job explaining the new school of freestyle swimming.
I started swimming competitively in high school, which was about 20 years ago (YIKES!). We were taught the "S" curve, finger-tip drap, and flipping the water at the end of the stroke. All of these things are now outdated. I've gotten rid of some of these old habits and have been working a lot on my catch and pull. After attending this clinic, I still have a long way to go on my stroke.
Joe talked a lot about body position and reducing drag. Ideally, you want to keep your body as flat as possible. I need to work on keeping my head in the right position, with my eyes looking at the bottom of the pool.
He also talked about the catch and pull. I feel like I'm making progress here. I've been working a lot recently on keeping my fingertips pointed to the bottom of the pool, the shape of my arm, and pulling straight back. These were all things that were brought up.
The idea of "setting an anchor" with the hand that enters the water and then pivoting your body around that anchor was new to me, and is going to take a lot of work.
The recovery is where I need a lot of work. I have a classic high elbow, fingertip-drag recovery. I learned that I need to modify this to be more of a "swinger" recovery. This is not only better for your shoulders, but the swinging of the arm on the recovery helps rotate your body around and past the "anchor" that is set with your other hand and arm.
We were given a lot of drills to help practice these things. At the pool this morning, I spent 45 minutes working on just these drills. It is going to take some time to correct these things, but I think it will pay off in the end.
Here is the handout from the clinic: