I found a great article on the Triathlete website by Sara McLarty which breaks down the freestyle swimming stoke in to rungs on a ‘skill ladder’.
Using this ladder you can measure your progress, moving up one rung after another until eventually you reach the top. It’s quite an interesting way to review your technique and ensure you don’t miss out a rung. I would guess that a lot of people want to move on to the more complex technical aspects and often take for granted some of the simpler basics – this is something I also find with learning digital skills.
Have a look at the ladder below.
Freestyle skill ladder - start at the bottom and work up
|Pull||Do fingertips point down and elbow stays high?|
|Catch||Does the wrist stay unbent?|
|Reach||Do hands extend forward and slightly down?|
|Entry||Does the arm drop into the water without pause?|
|Recovery||Is your arm relaxed with a high elbow?|
|Finish||Does your hand exit the water past your hip?|
|Centre line||Do you avoid crossing the centre line with your hands?|
|Rotation||Does your torso rotate with your stroke?|
|Bilateral breathing||Can you breathe to both sides?|
|Head position||Is your head in a neutral position?|
|Balance||Are your hips near the surface when you swim?|
|Kicking||Are you using your kick to get across the pool?|
|Breathing||Are you exhaling under the water?|
|Floating & relaxing||Can you float on your stomach?|
What does it look like when you put all this together?
When I want to review some textbook freestlye action I look at this multi angle camera view of 1500m Olympic champion and world record holder Sun Yang of China.
Although like many professional athletes he seems unable to keep himself away from doping allegations there is no doubt that his technique is formidable.