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It looks like that the most requested topic in the last poll on the Swimator blog is about freestyle.
Well, let me talk to you about how to get the most power out of your stroke.
After you learn how to properly hold your body in the water and relax you can move on to starting to use your arms to propel yourself forward.
There are several phases to freestyle arm movement in swimming, but for this post, I'll only focus on the so-called "catch" at the beginning of the stroke.
One of the key things you need to do at the beginning of your freestyle stroke (that is when your fingers enter the water up front) is to make sure that you actually catch as much water as possible.
Imagine wrapping your arm around a barrel that is laying on its side.
You need to reach over the barrel keeping your elbow up high in order for your arm to bent and grab the barrel. This is called getting the initial catch for your stroke.
The picture below sort of illustrates what I mean, but in this guy's case, he is only halfway and if he were doing our exercise, he'd continue to move his fingers down the barrel until his chest would touch it and his elbow would be nicely bent.
Then he'd push the barrel behind him, so it rolls off.
In other words, he anchors his hand right in front of the barrel and then moves his body over the barrel (if he were in the water).
So, now you hopefully have a better understanding of what you need to do.
To help you with this, there exists a special paddle called the TechPaddle and also the Antipaddle.
Below you will see a short video of the way this should be done and how the TechPaddle helps you.
These inventions for swimming enthusiasts are quite nice for beginners and also more advanced swimmers to learn how to actually catch water and not drop the elbow.
Most beginner, but even many experienced swimmers drop their elbow which means their elbow is leading the way under the water when executing the freestyle stroke.
Instead, try keeping the elbow at the surface and have your palm lead the way towards the back.
You could also think about it in these terms.
Instead of using your arms to paddle forward, pretend that you use them as anchors.
When you anchor the forearm vertically in the water, then your body just moves along the anchor forward.
Of course, this is an exaggeration, but if you were to swim in some thicker liquid, this anchor notion would be much more visible.
The TechPaddle and the Antipaddle help you with this quite nicely.
Don't get scared by the title Early Vertical Forearm (EVF). In laymen terms, it just means do not drop the elbow and catch water in your early stroke.
Here is another video which explains it very well.
So, there you have it.
This high elbow technique is actually not that easy to learn, but if you stick with it, I am sure you will improve.