Crossing the center-line is a common problem that’s difficult to notice while swimming with a proper head position. Here’s how to check your stroke.
CORRECT (top swimmer in the photo above): To maintain an efficient stroke, the hand should stay to the outside of the center-line, right in line with the shoulder.
INCORRECT (bottom swimmer in the photo above): The hand should not cross over the center-line. This not only slows down your stroke, it also strains the shoulder with every pull.
DRILLS TO CHECK YOUR STROKE
Here are a few drills from Bodyfeed Endurance Training that will help you check your swim.
- TARZAN DRILL. Swim one lap with your head out of the water and watch the entry position of your hands.
- USE A SNORKEL. Keep your face underwater but tilt your head slightly up to watch what happens after your arms enter the water.
- MIRROR OR SHADOW. Watch your reflection on the bottom of the pool.
- STICK OR BOARD DRILLS. Catch-up drill using a 12-inch wooden dowel or a kickboard turned sideways will prevent crossing over. Make sure to keep your hands at the outside edges of the stick or board when you alternate.
Another way to check your swim is to making a video of yourself swimming so you or your coach can do an analysis.
POSITION THE CAMERA.
Place the camera approximately halfway between the walls and point it straight up toward the surface so you record complete strokes when passing over it from both directions. The fisheye lens provides a 170-degree field of view, which allows it to grab several strokes in a single pass in moderately deep water. We found a depth of 8 feet provides the best combination of detail and length, but any depth from 5 to 10 feet works well. Make sure to orient the camera sideways to capture maximum swim distance and you can point it down the lane to get a head-on view of your stroke.
REVIEW AND USE THE INFORMATION
Once you have your own stroke on video, find an example of excellent technique from, the IRONMAN U Freestyle Stroke Analysis course, swim DVDs, or YouTube and make a list of differences between your stroke and the example. Save this first video for future reference. Next time you go to the pool, focus on one of your technique problems throughout the entire workout. Persist for a week and then bring the camera back to the pool to record your new and hopefully improved stroke. Compare your original video to the new one and note how your stroke has changed. If you have fixed the problem, move onto No. 2 on your list.
In the head-on view, check out head and body position in relation to the surface of the water. The water line should slice along the top of your head, leaving half above and half below the surface. Your body should follow directly behind your head on the surface and be almost invisible to the camera.
Review the path of your hand during the catch and pull phases. This view is perfect to check for centerline crossing. No part of your arm should ever cross to the other side. Your hand should enter the water in direct line with the shoulder and then make a sweeping, question-mark motion toward the hip.
Finally, watch your legs as you swim away from the lens. Look for the highest and lowest point of the kick; aim for a maximum of 1 to 2 feet of difference. Verify that each foot kicks through the surface of the water and makes bubbles on re-entry. This view is useful to identify good pointed toes and improper flexed feet.