What is distance per stroke (DPS) for a swimmer? Think of it as getting more distance for each swimming cycle through increased efficiency, not by reaching further in front or pushing further in back. Trying to extend the comfortable reach of your stroke pattern can lead to injury and body alignment problems - actually decreasing swimming efficiency.
Here are some of the steps to swim through that should help you improve your distance per stroke:
- Get in a good body position, long and straight, with the top of your head pointing the way you are going.
- Slow down the pull.
- Feel your hand enter.
- Extend to a natural stopping point with no over-reach. Your body should rotate around your spine, with the shoulder/hip on the same side of the arm extending rotating towards the bottom of the pool while the opposite side rotates towards the sky - you will be more on edge (maybe mentally, too) than flat.
- Leave your extended arm's elbow relatively high (close to the surface of the water).
- Bending at the elbow (and possibly wrist a bit), point your fingers, hand, wrist, forearm structure (fhwf) towards the bottom of the pool (this is the catch).
- Keeping your fingers, hand, wrist, forearm structure (fhwf)pointing towards the bottom of the pool, press on the water (backwards).
- BIG POINT HERE - NO S CURVE - NO MOVING OF THE FHWF STRUCTURE AWAY FROM POINTING AT THE BOTTOM OF THE POOL - THE ELBOW/FOREARM/SHOULDER ANGLE WILL CHANGE, BUT ATTEMPT TO KEEP THE FHWF STRUCTURE ORIENTED STRAIGHT DOWN.
- AT THE SAME TIME AS YOU FINISH THE CATCH AND BEGIN THE PRESS, BEGIN TO ROTATE TO THE OPPOSITE SIDE.
- AT THE SAME TIME AS YOU BEGIN THE CATCH, THE OPPOSITE ARM SHOULD BE AT OR ALMOST AT #3.
- As you press on the water and the fhwf structure passes your waist, your elbow will begin to surface and you will start to feel a loss of pressure on the fhwf structure.
- When you feel a major loss of pressure, lift the elbow and get the whole arm up, into the air, for its recovery. AT THAT POINT THE OPPOSITE ARM SHOULD BE AT #4.
- Swing the arm forward with a high elbow and relaxed FHWF structure until you reach #3.
- You should breath away from the hand entering the water, when that hand is in the #3-4 range, so you have finished the breath BEFORE the hand on the breathing side gets to #3.
- This needs to be felt and worked through at a slower pace, then practiced at a faster pace.
- Initially you can lay on your side (WITH FLIPPERS ON, GENTLE KICKING!!) underwater side of your body'sarm extended, other arm down, laying alongyour side, top of your head pointing the direction you are traveling.
- Count to 10, eyes looking sideways with one eye directly above the other, mouth out of the water.
- At 10, take one arm pull and recover with the other arm, rotate your body 180 degrees and mouth out again on the other side.
- During this rotation, your head should never leave its point position, aiming towards your destination.
- As that gets more comfortable, start decreasing the count between side switches. I call this drill head point with X-count switch.
Minimize any swaying motions and any over-extensions or over-reaching. This technique is all about:
- A straight line body position.
- Rotating around your spine.
- A pointing straight to the bottom FHWF structure.
- Overlap timing by getting one hand in the water before the other hand gets too far along in the press.
Note that there is variation in angles of FHWF structure from a head-on view. I like swimmers to work on the "straight to the bottom of the pool" point for now, to decrease the amount of cross-over that can occur during breathing. It may help you to think of it in two ways, one from the point of view of an eyeball stuck in your belly, and one from the point of view of an eye watching as you swim over the top of it. The belly-eye would see the FHWF start off far away, move in towards it, then move far away again, while the bottom-eye would see the FHWF structure point towards it and stay pointing towards it as the body swam over the top of it.
Increasing your ability to cover more distance per stroke is one more tool you can use to improve your overall swimming. This skill is useful for all levels of athletes in almost any distance race or workout set. Try some of theseswimming technique tips next time you are in the pool and let me know how it goes.