How To Hold Your Hands When Swimming

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Take a quick look at this video loop that a swimmer sent it to us for feedback:



Notice how Travis is holding his hands very loosely - almost limply in fact. Unfortunately when you do this you lose your attachment with the water, seriously damaging your catch. You can also see how it is adding a lot of drag as the water hits the back of his hand and fingers.

When you swim you shouldn't hold your hands limply or cup your hands (as was commonly taught in decades gone by). The best swimmers in the world lightly hold their hands flat like paddles:

2x Australian 10km Champion Rhys Mainstone

Don't do this forcibly or rigidly, the hand should be held flat with a light 'tone' to it - similar to if you were extending your hand to shake someone else's.

Try adding a small bend at the wrist to create a little shape at the front of the stroke as we can see Rhys doing above and Pro Triathlete Guy Crawford doing below. This helps you engage with the water in the right way and press it backwards:



Of course like anything you don't want to over-do it! :



Fingers Together Or Apart?

A very common related question is whether you should hold the fingers together or apart:


For the answer to that, read our full blog post on the subject. The answer might surprise you:

/f49/2013/11/fingers-together-or-apart.html

Of course, to give your catch and propulsion the full Swim Smooth treatment, you need our Catch Masterclass Program, available on DVD and in the Coaching System Webapp.

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Run An Experiment On Your Swimming: Do You Have High Drag Or Low Propulsion?

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The next time you swim try the test set below. The idea is to run an experiment to find what might be holding you back with your swimming - excessive drag or a lack of propulsion.

Some swimmers have lots of propulsion but also lots of drag, others have low drag but little propulsion whilst great swimmers have low drag AND great propulsion. Use this session to identify where you lie on this continuum and get started improving your stroke.

Great swimmers like Michael Phelps have low drag AND great propulsion.


Drag Vs. Propulsion

Swim the set below straight through. If you know your CSS pace per 50m, add 5 seconds to it and use that as your cycle time. So if your CSS is 2:00/100m (1:00 /50m) then set off each 1:05 aiming to get about 5 seconds rest between each swim.

Set 1: 8 x 50m with a pull buoy (no kicking)

Set 2: 8 x 50m normal freestyle

Set 3: 8 x 50m normal freestyle but with paddles (no pull buoy)

What you should do next depends on how things felt: If Set 1 felt easier than Set 2 then swim Set 4a below, otherwise swim Set 4b.





Set 4a: This suggests you have high drag in your stroke.

Swim 2 x 100m focusing on long straight legs with big toes tapping as they pass and eyes looking down.

Then 200 or 300m continuous freestyle maintaining this focus over a longer distance.



Set 4b: This suggests a low drag profile negatively affected by too much buoyancy at the rear from the pull buoy (the same would be the case when wearing a wetsuit).

Swim 2 x 100m thinking about pulling yourself along a rope and minimising your kicking effort.

Then 200 or 300m continuous freestyle maintaining this focus over a longer distance.




Then if set 3 felt easier than set 2, swim set 5a below, otherwise swim set 5b.




Set 5a: This suggests your catch may need some fine tuning and may be the cause of low sinking legs, i.e. pushing down on the water at the front of the stroke.

Swim 2 x 100m (no pull buoy) as 15m scull #1 then 85m freestyle focusing on tipping the finger-tips down at full reach to initiate the catch and avoid pressing down on the water.

Then 200 or 300m continuous freestyle maintaining this focus over a longer distance.



Set 5b: This suggests your catch and pull through is quite ineffective and you tend to pull through with a straight arm rather than bending at the elbow

2 x 100m (no pull buoy) as 15m Doggy Paddle drill then 85m freestyle focusing on bending the elbow like Becky and pressing the water backwards.

Then 200 or 300m continuous freestyle maintaining this focus over a longer distance.




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The Brownlee Tri And Swim Smooth's Bespoke Swim Training Plan

Swim Smooth are very proud to announce they are partnering with the fantastic Brownlee Tri at Harewood House, Leeds, UK on September 26th. We'll be at the race offering help and support to swimmers and running training days for you on August 22nd/23rd (more information to follow).

Sign-up for the race here: www.brownleetri.com



** Enter Now - 10% Discounted Entry Offer Ends May 31st **


To celebrate, we have also written a totally bespoke Swim Smooth Training Plan especially for the race which you can find within our webapp coaching system: app.swimsmooth.com/brownleetri



(if you are already subscribed you can jump straight to the Brownlee Tri plan in the webapp here)


This plan is aimed at those racing in open water for the first time who might be quite new to swimming freestyle. Packed with Swim Smooth's stroke technique and open water swimming expertise, this plan will get you perfectly prepared and confident for race day!

What's more, as we get nearer the race we'll be filming at the venue especially for you and adding it into the training plan. This will give you unique insight from out on the course into how to swim it well.

Sign-up for the race today at www.brownleetri.com, use the SS Coaching System to prepare your swim and we'll see you at the venue for a fantastic race on September 26th!

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Hire A HUUB Wetsuit This Season!

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** New Oxford/Henley SS Coach **
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Need a comfortable and fast wetsuit to swim open water races or triathlon this season? Look no further, Swim Smooth are pleased to announce our new wetsuit hire scheme.

Naturally, we are only hiring HUUB wetsuits, the fastest and most comfortable suits on the market! Each HUUB suit is designed with extensive swimming knowledge and input from Swim Smooth to give you optimum performance in open water.




If you haven't worn a specialist swimming wetsuit before, the difference versus a normal watersports (e.g. surfing) wetsuit will feel astounding. Far more flexible and cut to allow free range of movement for the freestyle stroke, you won't believe how easier (and warmer) it feels to swim in a HUUB wetsuit.




Hire charges start at £65* for a 4 week period with hire options of 8 and 12 weeks.

Visit our website here for full information: เกมยิงปลา HappyFishingTriathlon Wetsuit Hire

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We're Going To Be At The Jenson Button Triathlon - Come And Meet (And Swim) With Us!

Now entering it's fourth year, the fabulous Jenson Button Trust Triathlon has moved to Markeaton Park, Derby on Sunday July 12th and the Swim Smooth Coaching Team will be in full attendance!

After registration (on Saturday 11th) Swim Smooth will be running a free open water skills session for you - so you can practise and get familiar with the swim course itself to maximise your performance the following day.

This exclusive session for race entrants will be fully coached by Swim Smooth coaches to get you comfortable and relaxed in the water whilst tuning up your open water skills such as drafting, sighting and swimming straight! Full session details to follow with your race entry.

Enter today! : www.jensonbuttontri.com

The Jenson Button Trust Triathlon

The 2015 Jenson Button Trust Triathlon is set to be the biggest event to date with the capacity for double the amount of competitors as seen in previous years.

To be held in Markeaton Park, Derby on Sunday July 12th, competitors will get the chance to race against the 2009 Formula 1 World Champion and a number of amateur and professional triathletes.

Keeping the same exciting format as adopted in previous years each competitor gets the chance to race twice, with the preliminary heat consisting of a 200m lake swim, 11km cycle and 2.5km run. The fastest in the heats will then go on to the final, which is double the distance, 400m swim, 20km cycle and 5km run, with the runners up going through to the wooden spoon race.

Enter today and we'll see you there! : www.jensonbuttontri.com

Photos from last year's race:

Give us a wave!

With its unique format, every competitor gets to race twice.

Last year's Swim Smooth open water skills session was a great success.

It's always sunny at the JB Tri: Adam, Swim Smooth Coach Annie
and Paul soaking up a few rays!

There's a good chance he'll be quicker than you through the corners! :)

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Making Decisions In Races Is Fraught With Risk

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Carrying a slight or niggly injury into a race is a frustrating but annoying fact of life. What happens if it plays up in the race or starts to feel progressively worse? Should you pull-out?

What about if you're coming back from a virus or you've been training hard and are not sure how fatigued you are? If you feel a bit flat in the race, should you drop your pace or toughen up and push on, risking digging yourself into a hole?

Or your target race is next week and you only plan to complete half the distance in today's training event to save yourself for the big day. But out on the course you feel fantastic and are well placed - should you continue?

Don't leave important decisions to the race itself

We can't tell you the right and wrong answer for each of those cases but what we do know is that it's fraught with risk to make an important decision in the heat of the moment during a race. With your adrenaline pumping and heart rate high, its very easy to make a bad choice that you will regret later.

Our advice is don't leave those decisions until the race itself. In the days before an event think through any situations you might encounter in advance. Discuss them with someone you trust who is more experienced than you (e.g. your coach). Make a plan - if X happens I will do Y - then stick to it in the race.

Considering the big picture cooly and calmly, and sleeping on it a couple of times, will dramatically increase your chances of doing the right thing. No regrets.

For a great example of this in action, see Paul's article here: www.swimsmooth.com/addressing-what-is-holding-you-back.html#q5

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Is Fingertrail Drill Doing You More Harm Than Good?

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Fingertrail or Thumb-Drag drill is an exercise where you deliberately swim dragging the fingertips across the surface of the water close to the body:



You've probably tried it yourself (or even done it to death). It's an extremely widespread drill that is used to encourage you to use a high-elbow arm recovery over the surface of the water.

Despite finger-trail being one of the most common drills in the world, at Swim Smooth we very rarely ask a swimmer to perform it as in most cases we observe its impact on them to be negative rather than positive.

As we discussed in this blog post on arm recovery, a tight high-elbow recovery is a bad idea if you don't have great upper body flexibility. It places stress on the shoulder and can easily cause you to snake your body as you work against your flexibility to get into the position.

Trying to recover the hand very close to the body makes for an
awkward arm recovery.

A slightly more open arm recovery (with the hand recovering higher over the surface of the water) is much better suited to most adults and helps them swim with better stroke rhythm (which can only be a good thing):


To do this just open up the angle at the elbow slightly, you're not looking to go to the opposite extreme and take the arm completely straight, just open the arm out a little. It might feel strange at first but you will immediately feel much more relaxed through the shoulders. Think about coming easily up and over the water in a natural relaxed fashion.

If you're an open water swimmer or triathlete then a classical high elbow with the hand low to the water is never a good idea as you will catch your hand on disturbed water or the wake from other swimmers. Plus when swimming in a wetsuit you will find a more open recovery reduces fatigue in the shoulders:



What To Do Instead

A good alternative to Fingertrail is our Broken Arrow drill as it helps loosen off stiff shoulders and helps develop a good upper body posture for swimming:



To perform Broken Arrow drill use a pair of fins. Slowly lift the hand to a vertical position and hold it there for a second, before bending at the elbow (breaking the arrow) and spearing forwards into the water and onto the other side. See our full Broken Arrow instruction in the Swim Smooth Coaching System here: app.swimsmooth.com/video/i2/broken-arrow-drill/

If you are using finger-trail to promote a nice clean hand entry into the water then we suggest you use our Shoulder-Tap drill instead. This is another nice drill to loosen off your shoulders: app.swimsmooth.com/video/m0/shoulder-tap-drill/

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