to Thigh Drill
Drill - a great drill focusing on the
underwater pull-through of the freestyle swim
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you feel like you are swimming endlessly and going
nowhere or are you wearing yourself out before
completing only one length of the pool? Perhaps you feel
like you have reached a plateau, swimming lap after lap,
and just can’t seem to get any faster.
these are all typical frustrations many triathletes
experience during the learning stages of swimming
the common root of these frustrations is “distance”
covered per stroke during a freestyle swim. Now,
initially, some of you may think to yourselves…”I
just need to learn to swim faster!”
And, the natural remedy would be to include speed
or quality training to your regimen to help boost your
overall speed. However, before I ever recommend any
speed work training, I first like to assess the swimmers
freestyle stroke to determine if technique is the main
culprit. And in doing so, I initially focus on the
swimmer’s underwater pull-through (taking into
consideration their body position and kick are
adequate). A proper underwater pull-through is crucial
to the freestyle stroke and is a key component for
initiating and maintaining forward momentum.
it is here, that I often notice one of the most common
mistakes a new swimmer encounters when swimming
freestyle. And that is an incomplete pull-through during
the underwater portion of the arm stroke. In other
words, the swimmer is not extending the arm behind
him/her at the end of the underwater pull-through.
Initially, a swimmer will start out swimming the first
few strokes of freestyle correctly. However, with each
stroke, fatigue sets in as the tricep muscles begin to
tighten and the underwater pull through is shortened.
Rather than extending the arm all the way through during
this portion of the stroke, the swimmer will lift the
elbow out of the water too soon in an effort to get the
arm(s) out and around for the recovery.
Consequently, the swimmer is “grabbing” less
water during the underwater pull-through as the number
of strokes he/she takes increases. And typically, the
arm strokes become hurried and choppy. And this is where
bad habits begin. Especially for someone swimming solo
with no way of knowing if such habits even exist.
to Figure 1.
A you will see an example of a swimmer who is
lifting the elbow too soon out of the water and not
pulling all the way through during the underwater
portion of the stroke. By doing this, the swimmer has
sacrificed valuable forward momentum by not extending
the arm behind him/her. This will result in less
distance covered per stroke and more strokes taken over
a given distance and even more importantly, more energy
take a look at Figure
2. At Point
B, you can see the swimmer has continued the pull through
underwater by extending the arm behind him/her. This not
only moves the swimmer forward farther per stroke, it
also reduces the number of strokes the swimmer will take
over a given distance. Fewer strokes means less energy
spent. And less energy spent per stroke equals greater
endurance allowing you to build your swim distances
quicker and easier.
drill is an excellent drill to help facilitate a proper
and complete underwater pull-through.
To begin, stand upright on a flat surface, feet about
4-6 inches apart. Drop your arms by your side and
mentally mark where your thumbs naturally line up with
each thigh. Once swimming freestyle, you want to lightly
drag your thumb across this spot during the underwater
pull-through. This will insure that your arm is
extending behind you (refer to swimmer in figure 2).
Very simply, this drill taps into your muscle memory.
You want to get used to pulling all the way through
extending the arm behind you. Initially, this drill may
be difficult or tiresome probably because your tricep
muscles are weaker than you thought! However, with some
strength work and practice, you will begin to develop a
feel for this drill and enjoy the positive results that
will follow. This is also a good drill to maintain
throughout the season, for no matter how good of shape
you are in, your arms will inevitably get tired during
your swim training and this is where bad habits are
introduced. I also recommend adding some tricep work
during your dry land/weight workouts.
10 x 25’s freestyle working on Thumb-to-Thigh, 15
seconds rest between each. Adjust your rest accordingly.