Developing a good feel for the water is key to improving as a swimmer. Awakening the feelings in your arms and hands helps you get a better grip on the water, and allows you to develop a more effective pull.
Why Do It:
Swimming fast demands strength, but you must make sure that you don’t overpower the water. You need to learn to work with the water, rather than push through it. One way to develop a better feel for the water in freestyle is to focus on how your hand feels when it’s time to initiate the pull. By playing with the hand position out front, you’ll begin to learn where your hand has the most power to initiate your pull.
Remember: Each person is built differently and moves differently through the water, so don’t just sweep your hand in and out and think you’re doing the drill. Take your time, and FEEL what your hand is doing. Feel how it connects your entire arm through to your side, and creates a long, powerful unit.
How To Do It:
1. If you’ve already mastered balance, you can basically give an extra few kicks on each side, making each stroke take a bit longer.
While on your side, allow your hand to enter where it feels most natural to do so.
2. Instead of falling directly into your pull, scull your hand out, and feel the connection between your arm and your side.
3. Scull, or sweep, your hand back in, feeling some release on the tension that was created during the outsweep…
4. … then scull back out again. Repeat this a few times while you add some extra kicks to keep you moving. Once you’ve sculled two to three times, take your stroke, and repeat on the other side.
How To Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
Although I hesitate using this word with Dave as the demo, try to be SUPPLE in your approach to the water. This is a quality exhibited by all great swimmers. It’s rare to see a really accomplished swimmer fighting with the water, or looking uncomfortable while swimming slowly. Great swimmers have the ability to work with the water, and ‘at any speed — can find a good connection or grasp on the water to move them forward.
By adding a sculling exercise to your freestyle, you may start to discover where your hand actually begins its pull, rather than just attacking each stroke.