One of the perks of working at Go Swim is that we get to watch A LOT of video of some really great swimmers. After a while, certain images and movement patterns get imprinted into our heads, and when we head back to the pool it’s only natural that we carry those images with us. One example is the image of Brendan Hansen’s high-elbow breaststroke catch.
The other day, we were pulling breaststroke, and this annoying thing started to happen. On every stroke, I’d hit the lane line with my arm, very close to my elbow. We pull side by side, so we can’t go near the centerline or we’ll hit arms. But on this day, on each stroke, my arm would graze the lane. Thinking I was doing something wrong, I started to focus a bit more on this and realized that this HIT meant I was connecting with the water in the way I’d been working on.
Why Do It:
Having your elbows high on the outsweep and pullback of the arms should give your hands and forearms better purchase on the water. This allows you to draw the body forward. Your arms will be pulling sooner, and in a more direct line.
How to Do It:
1. In this instance, you’ll probably want to go fairly slow. That way, when you HIT the lane, you won’t be scraping too much across it. All you want is simple contact with your arm. To accomplish this, we strapped on the chute, pull buoy, and paddles. This adds to the power, but slows the turnover and velocity.
2. Stay as close to the lane-line as you need to. If your pull is narrow, you’ll be very close. If your pull is wider, you can be farther away.
3. As you start to pull your arms back, make sure you’ve HIT the lane line, or at least made contact with it. That’s about it. This quick and easy drill is something you can implement in EVERY practice.
How to Do It Really Well (the fine points):
WHERE your arm impacts the lane is also important. You’ll want to make sure you’re hitting the lane with your FOREARM, or part of your arm BELOW the elbow. Hitting with the back of your arm, or triceps isn’t the same thing. You may also want to wear a Tempo Trainer to remind yourself to keep a consistent rhythm.
Throw in a length or two of fast, or sprint breaststroke pull to make sure you’re transferring that feeling of connection into a more appropriate hand speed.