Our swim Physiotherapist, Xela is demonstrating how bands can be used to teach and strengthen the initial freestyle catch, focusing on a early vertical forearm. The catch and pull phase is the main technique element that separates elite from non-elite swimmers. The early vertical forearm or high elbow catch utilises larger muscle groups to increase propulsion through the water. By maintaining the high elbow throughout the pull, the water can be pushed back rather then down causing an increased forward movement.
The initial catch phase can be strengthened in the gym using bands then translated to the pool in the form of skulls, and the use of paddles.
The progression from focusing on the initial catch of the stroke is a full pull stroke while maintaining the vertical forearm through the pull. The elbow stays above the wrist, allowing you to hold the water during the underwater stroke. Just at the end of the stroke the hand presses out the back towards the hips, propelling the body forward and prepping for the arm for above water recovery.
Watch out for our final installmet in this series of demos in the coming days!