Dialing in Kent’s Freestyle
Next up on the “I get to pick apart your stroke” list is Kent. I met with Kent to help him with his stroke, and there were a few things that I don’t always see. Take a look at his swimming from the side-view. The first thing I notice is the head movement. After breathing, Kent drives his head down along with his hand. This is primarily caused by constantly breathing to one side. As I’ve mentioned before, this creates an imbalance in your stroke. In Kent’s case, his head drops a bit too much after each breath.
There are a couple of other things going on here as well in conjunction with this, but you have to look a little closer. First of all, if you look at the above water shot, you can see that the head doesn’t just dip down, but it also dips over. This will cause a person to swim crooked faster than anything. In swimming, you have to envision yourself on a barbecue skewer. The head and body stay in a straight line just as if you had a skewer running through your head, while your body rotates on that axis to pull, kick and breathe. If your body breaks from that axis by wiggling, bending or moving your head from one side to the other, you lose efficiency and often swim crooked. That can kinda be a problem in the middle of a lake. Additionally, watch the left hand as Kent’s head takes that dive. Notice how his hand turns to the side with the pinkie finger down at the onset of the pull. It looks as if Kent is attempting to keep the entry and pull in in-line and he overcompensates for the head by dropping the elbow on the extension and turning his hand so as to keep the good rotation. The problem is that his misses the first and very powerful part of the pull because his hand is sideways. Keeping the head straight should correct most of this, but focusing on the position of the hand as the pull starts will be important in order to correct this.
Speaking of the pull, look at the right arm during the pull. The pull itself looks really good on both arms as you can see that he is getting some power out of each pull, but during that pull there are a bunch of bubbles being dragged through the water. This mostly has to do with the hand entry. His hand enters well beyond the top of his head and is therefore entering at a steep angle. If Kent were to make a shallower entry by entering a little closer to the top of his head, he can remove those bubbles and get a better grip on the water.
Finally, I want to touch on the overall body position. From the side-view video you can see that Kent’s legs are dragging just a tad by the end of the length. This is due mainly to the effectiveness of the the kick. While the mechanics of the kick seem to be spot on, it’s the ankle flexibility that is the problem. Simple enough fix. Stretch out your ankles and you will generate more power from you kick.
The beauty here is that a couple of small adjustments will probably fix a number of issues, so there aren’t tons of things to focus on and get confused with. Hopefully straightening the head and bilateral breathing will have a domino effect and fix some of the other issues in the stroke.
Now go get in the water.