The freestyle swimming skill ladder

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

PullDo fingertips point down and elbow stays high?
CatchDoes the wrist stay unbent?
ReachDo hands extend forward and slightly down?
EntryDoes the arm drop into the water without pause?
RecoveryIs your arm relaxed with a high elbow?
FinishDoes your hand exit the water past your hip?
Centre lineDo you avoid crossing the centre line with your hands?
RotationDoes your torso rotate with your stroke?
Bilateral breathingCan you breathe to both sides?
Head positionIs your head in a neutral position?
BalanceAre your hips near the surface when you swim?
KickingAre you using your kick to get across the pool?
BreathingAre you exhaling under the water?
Floating & relaxingCan 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.

Sun Yang technique video - YouTube

More about Sun Yang’s technique

James Mullarkey

I write about the web and digital, mediocre sporting performances and places I've been, for this blog and only this blog.