Monday, May 08, 2006

Skip the Dog

Confident kids generally learn dog paddle before they learn free-style. We're going to skip all that and go right into stroke technique. We're back home in front of the mirror for this lesson. Face the mirror with about three feet between you and any incumbrances - e.g., a sink, perhaps. Now raise your hands and put them above your head in the torpedo pose - straight arms, locked elbows, thumbnails together, fingers flush together and gently palms cupped (as if holding water). Keeping it straight, swing your right arm down, parallel to your body, until it touches your leg. Keep the other arm up - don't move it. You've done half a proper stroke and if you were in a pool you would now be gliding. Now try this with the left arm, keeping your right arm extended over your head (don't worry about swinging it back yet - that's a whole topic to itself). Now let's look at what you've done. You've swung your arms parallel to your body and kept your non-stroking arms straight over your head. Why? You want to maintain the torpedo profile for the water to slipstream past you. Next, you've kept your pulling arms straight. Why? You want to maximize the pulling lever. A long arm, provides a more powerful stroke than a bent arm. As easy as it is here in front of the mirror, this is tricky in the water and where nearly everyone does it wrong in the pool. Practice this motion and repeat it until you understand what is described above fully. Recovery next time.

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