There is so much talk these days about the importance of body alignment, balance, and rotation, that sometimes we forget about some of the OTHER things that help us move through the water. The Pull, for instance and, specifically, the last part of the pull.
To catch my point, try picturing a log rolling in the water. Sure, it spins fast, but it doesn’t move FORWARD. Likewise, a perfectly aligned and balanced body, with great rotation, GOES NOWHERE unless the hand grabs hold of a good chunk of water and then DOES SOMETHING with it.
As you read and practice this drill, remember that it helps you focus on just ONE aspect of the whole stroke (and one aspect of the whole pull). It represents one part of an entire process, and it does this by exaggerating or highlighting that one part. By exaggerating one part of the stroke, you may minimize another part of the stroke (in this case, rotation), so just be aware of this up front as you practice. When you’re doing this drill, don’t worry about getting power from core-body rotation. Focus instead on getting power from the hand as it finishes each stroke. If you’ve been practicing our OTHER drills, you’ll already have a solid foundation of core-body rotation. It’s in there. Now you’re simply adding power with your hands by holding on to the water a little longer.
Extended Release is a drill you can do while you’re swimming. You don’t have to slow down or otherwise alter your stroke ; you just have to do one part of it a little differently and with more thought.
Why Do It:
By learning various ranges of release, you’ll develop a better understanding of how to hold on to the water, and become more productive with your swimming. Extended Release also helps you to ACCELERATE your hand speed as you go from the start to the finish of the pull.
How To Do It:
1. While you’re swimming freestyle, maintain a long stroke out front, but focus on finishing your stroke PAST the suit.
2. PUSH all the way through to the end of the stroke. When you do this, your hand may "break out" of the surface, or "flip" upon exiting the water. This happens because your fast hand has been meeting increased resistance from the water. When the hand exits the water, the resistance disappears but the hand maintains its speed and flicks.
3. Focus your attention on a smooth elbow release directly forward. There may be a tendency to flip the hand across your back, rather than allowing it to be drawn forward by the elbow.
How To Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
Try not to throw a lot of water out of the pool! The point of the drill is to push the hand back longer, harder, and faster IN THE WATER not to see how high you can flick your hand OUT OF THE WATER. The muscles to isolate on this drill are the triceps. Use them to push the water BACK, rather than OUT.