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Freestyle – Active Gliding

Wanna swim fast?  Wanna swim for a long time efficiently?  Experiment with cutting out the dead spots; it may be for you.

Many swimmers, when they strive for the most efficient stroke, introduce huge pauses, or glides, in their stroke to make sure they’re not spending too much energy swimming.  Don’t forget:   If you’re not propelling, you’re slowing down.  That’s just the way water works.

Why Do It:
While gliding isn’t exactly bad for swimming (in fact, it’s a very important part in drilling and for some swimmers it works well), don’t get caught in the mindset that gliding is the best kind of stroke for every swimmer.  In this drill, you’ll be experimenting with "active" gliding.   This means that as you extend, you will move your hand directly into the catch.  The difference between gliding and active gliding is subtle, but if you get the hang of it it could be something that works for you.  

How to Do It:
1. 
 Refer to the drill called "Eyes Up Catch," and keep it in mind during this drill.
2.  The best way to experience this is to put on paddles and pull buoy.  This tool combination will isolate the arms and make them responsible for your power.   You’ll need to keep pulling to keep moving.  If you’re a triathlete, somebody may have told you this is cheating; it’s not.
3.  Start with short swims… 25s or 50s… feeling the hand PRESS into the catch DURING the extension.  Rather than extending the arm forward and holding, or gliding, use the width of the paddle to feel the hand pressing down as you reach forward.
4.  You may initially feel a shortness in your stroke.  If you do, you may be pulling immediately, rather than pressing, or allowing your arm to slightly press during the extension.  This isn’t a pull back, but rather a subtle press that gets your hand into the catch position sooner.

How to Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
Focus on continuous movement with the arms.  Keep that in mind, but you’ll need to accomplish this without sprinting.  Try your best to maintain a strong, slow, smooth turnover without chopping into the catch.  Also, this would be considered just a bit more advanced level drill, so if it’s not working for you, step back a bit and continue to work on the basics.  You’ll be here soon.