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Swimming Technique - Should Freestyle Have an S Shaped Pull Pattern

By May 13, 2011

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When I was taught how to swim freestyle, an S shaped pulling pattern was emphasized. Over time, this freestyle swimming technique emphasis has changed a lot. Now the idea of trying to pull in an S shape is old-fashioned. The big thing now is to get an early swimming catch.
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May 13, 2011 at 2:14 am
(1) iSwimCoach says:

Oooh, you hit on one of my pet peeves. Too many swimmers (and triathletes in particular) read about an “S” shaped pull, and waste much time trying to DO an S shaped pull without understanding the WHY. In my opinion, the S is the RESULT of a good catch, coupled with core rotation and a high elbow. If the palm of the hand holds onto the water all the way through the pull as the body rotates on its long axis and the arm is in the high elbow position, the hand will automatically perform in an S pattern – a narrow, elongated S pattern. What I see with many novice adult swimmers is they try to do an S, but their hands just slide back and forth through the water in an S pattern instead of hanging onto the water with their hands. Their S would be as wide as it is long, and results in far less than optimum power.

May 19, 2011 at 5:44 am
(2) Sprinteur says:

S-pattern seen from which referential?
You cannot specify a trajectory in physics or “pattern” in your post without specifying where you are looking from. This is the point of view in plain English, or the referential in physics.

In a fixed referential (the swimming pool, the coach…), the hand of the swimmer could be almost fixed or have slight linear rearwards horizontal movement from the catch to the end of the push, with a downward and upward movement in vertical plane.

This very same movement has a S shape when seen from the chest or hip of the swimmer, by the effect of the body roll and shoulder movement. I do not envision that from the head referential because it is much too complex and depends on the breathing, but the perception of the hand movement from the swimmer is probably to be clarified.

So what? The very same movement is fixed-linear and has a “S” shape at the same time?

The real question could be about drag and lift: good old Counsilman explained most of the propelling force from lift, and thus the S shape of the hand should let water glide under it (in hand referential).
In modern theories drag explains most of the propelling force, and thus the S shape of the hand aims at pushing water backwards (in swimming pool referential).

These are not so different techniques, but proper specification of the referential helps to understand the point.

May 19, 2011 at 11:46 am
(3) Will Burnett says:

To get our swimmers to understand the correct stroke path to get more power and less drag, we’ve been showing the following video clip by the great masters swimmer and coach, Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen. It gives our swimmers excellent visuals on what we want them to do in the water. Works well for us.

May 19, 2011 at 3:12 pm
(4) Calzone says:

OMG, excellent video! I’ve been reading and reading about early vertical pull, but I couldn’t understand what was required simply by reading it, or even by watching underwater videos. I needed someone like Karlyn to explain it! Can’t wait to work out tomorrow. Thanks Will.

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