‘Triathlon Articles’ Archives
Harry Wiltshire is an elite ITU triathlete who is always amongst the first few athletes out of the water at every world cup event he races. He can swim 17 minutes and change for 1500m, and trains every day with the Brownlee brothers for good measure. But Harry has a problem: every swim coach wants to change his stroke.
When you see Harry swim in the link above you will understand why. His stroke is a long way from an orthodox smooth stroke, with a short punchy style and striking straight arm recovery:
He takes between 45 and 50 strokes per 50m and appears to windmill his arms. His turn over seems frenetic at 90 to 100 strokes per minute:
This is a long way from what most people think of as an efficient freestyle stroke and yet he's first out of the water at the very highest level of triathlon. At an easy level of effort he swims faster than most age group triathletes can sprint. How does he do this?Don't Mess With Harry!
Harry was the first athlete that our head coach Paul Newsome ever coached whilst they were both at Bath University during the late 90s. Like nearly every other swim coach before or since, Paul thought that's a terrible stroke, let's smooth him out and make his stroke longer!
The problem with doing so was that it immediately made him slower and less efficient.
Harry is a skilled swimmer and can switch to a longer smoother stroke if he wants to but this stroke style simply does not suit him and it immediately feels hard work. He doesn't swim the way he does because of a lack of coordination or skill, he swims this way out of choice.
It was this experience of working with Harry that caused Paul to realise that this 'Swinger' style of stroke did have a lot of merit and triggered a line of thinking and research that lead to the Swim Type system.
Like all great swimmers, the secret to Harry's stroke is what happens underwater. He has a great body position with hips, knees and feet very near the surface :
An excellent catch and pull technique, pressing the water back behind him with a bent elbow :
And a low energy two beat kick, ideal for distance swimming :
Harry's fast arm turnover gives his stroke amazing rhythm which helps him punch through waves and swell, and minimise buffeting from other swimmer's wakes. That high arm recovery allows good clearance over disturbed water and lets him to swim close to other swimmers to maximise drafting benefits.
At first sight it would be easy to disregard Harry's stroke as 'fighting the water' but as we can see above he's doing anything but. There's plenty of great technique in his stroke, it's just that everything happens very quickly. If you blink you miss it!
If you've been following Swim Smooth for a while you will know that we call swimmers like Harry 'Swingers
' because they tend to recover with a distinctive straight arm style. Harry is an extreme example of a Swinger but nearly all professional triathletes and open water swimmers use this style to a greater or lesser extent, including those Brownlee brothers, who are favourites for Olympic Gold in London
.Should You Use This Style Yourself?
Harry's stroke isn't something we would hold up and say 'copy this' as it is a fairly extreme example of the Swinger type with quite a lack of symmetry and a significant head lift to breathe. Compared to an elite swimmer, his catch could also be improved somewhat. However, we should recognise and appreciate his strengths because there are definitely some aspects of his stroke you can emulate to become a better swimmer :
|Harry exits another swim in the first pack.|
- If you are a triathlete or open water swimmer, experiment with a slightly straighter arm recovery. This may feel strange at first but it will help you clear disturbed water and also swim closer to other swimmers.
- All swimmers need great rhythm and timing in their strokes, and this is especially the case in open water. Don't lose site of this by trying to overly lengthen your stroke.
- If you feel like your stroke is long and slow then experiment with getting into your stroke a little quicker at the front by keeping your lead hand always in motion, either extending forwards, lightly catching the water or pressing it back. You're not trying to shorten your stroke at the front or rear but just remove any delay at the front. Don't be afraid to 'put a bit of Harry' into your stroke.
- If you naturally suit a faster stroke style then feel secure that there's nothing wrong with that and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Of course you should refine and develop your stroke technique but keep that great sense of rhythm to proceedings, it's a real strength in your swimming.
At Swim Smooth one of our goals is to give great swimmers like Harry credit for what they do, which has been sadly lacking until now. They may look unorthodox but their stroke style is highly effective for distance events and they are brilliant swimmers in their own right.
Breaking news: Since writing this blog, Harry won The Outlaw Iron-distance triathlon
in the UK last weekend. As you'd expect he lead out the swim (in 48 minutes in his HUUB Archimedes
...and then went on to win the race. Quite an achievement when you appreciate he had stopped running in March to focus on trying to make the Olympic team as a swim-bike domestique. In fact his longest training run before The Outlaw was just 30 minutes long. A phenomenal achievement which really highlights his mental toughness in running a full marathon off the 112 mile bike, a classic personality trait of the Swinger.
Read our exclusive interview with Harry, including his thoughts on developing that unique style here: www.swimsmooth.com/harry-wiltshire-interview.html
Here in Perth we frequently use a simple drill sequence with the Swim Smooth squads, it's a progression that you can easily introduce into your technique sets or during the warm-up of any session. You may already be performing a similar drill and not truly appreciate the dramatic improvement it can make to your stroke with a different focus.Your Stroke While Breathing
As you know, here at Swim Smooth we very much favour an individual approach to correcting someone's stroke. However, within our drill set we use several of our 'core' drills with nearly all swimmers as they tackle a wide range of stroke flaws. One such drill is kicking-on-your-side using a pair of flexible fins, it's a very powerful but often misunderstood drill.
Most swimmers (around 80%) lose stroke form when going to take a breath in. This is a critical point in your stroke for two reasons:
1. Most swimmers hold onto their breath underwater rather than exhaling smoothly and continuously whenever they are face down. As a result they feel a strong urgency (or even a desperation) for air, such that when they do go to breathe their focus is entirely on the breath, allowing stroke flaws to creep in elsewhere in the stroke.
2. Many swimmers breathe only to one side and as a result have developed a lop-sided stroke, twisting through the middle when they breathe and crossing the mid-line with the lead hand in front of their head.
You are really very likely to have one or both of these issues in your stroke and be losing a huge chunk of speed and efficiency as a result. If you are swimming in open water then a lop-sided stroke and crossover will make you swim off course and lose you even more time. In fact our work with GPS devices shows swimming 20% or more over-distance is very common for swimmers with a crossover, an incredible statistic.
The following drill sequence is designed to tackle these issues and help you improve your stroke while you are breathing.Kicking On Your Side
Using a pair of flexible fins, kick on your side for 25m with your left arm extended out in front of your head with the palm of your hand facing the bottom of the pool. The other arm should be held by your side, as if it's resting in the front pocket of your trousers. Whilst on your side, kick relatively gently using the fins to provide propulsion so you can focus on what is happening in front of your head.
Hold good posture by drawing your shoulder blades together and back, which will straighten you out. This is a fundamentally important position in freestyle to avoid rolling the shoulders too far forward, which can be partly to blame for a crossover in front of the head in the first place.
If you are very flexible through the upper back and shoulders you may be able to over-do this and draw the lead arm wide. Think straighter, not wider!
Breathe to your right hand side whenever you need to and return your head to look down in the water, maintaining good exhalation. Feel smooth, rhythmical and calm but with a sense of poise about your body.
After 25m of this drill, transition straight into 25m of normal freestyle but still only breathe to the right side. Breathe comfortably every 2 or 4 strokes and maintain focus only on your lead arm spearing straight forwards as you breathe to the side. Try focusing on the middle finger of that lead hand and where it is pointing, aiming gun-barrel straight down the lane!
Now repeat on the other side as 25m kick with the right arm extended (breathing to your left) and then 25m normal freestyle only breathing left.Same Drill Different Purpose?
You may have tried a similar drill many times before but perhaps focused on something else such as body rotation. This sequence provides a different meaning to the drill by focusing on your posture, holding yourself straight and aligned, even whilst breathing.
Try this sequence before a challenging main set and see if you can maintain a good focus on your posture and alignment when you turn up the speed dial. You could well swim a PB set right off the bat!
If you are looking to excel in open water races or triathlon swim legs then you need to regularly practise your turns. Every open water turn gives you the opportunity to save a few seconds and the possibility of dropping other swimmers who may be drafting off you.
In this post we're going to look at an advanced way of turning called a corkscrew turn. It's a fast and tight way to cut round a buoy and a very useful skill to have in your locker. Even if you are not an advanced swimmer give this a try in training, it's a lot of fun and makes turns a lot easier when you need to cut a tight line at a turn buoy.The Corkscrew Turn
Take a look at the following image sequence of Paul Newsome demonstrating this turn:
Paul approaches at full speed (1) and slides his arm closest to the buoy (2) past it, note at this point he has his back to the buoy and can't see it. He then flips onto his back (3) and his recovering arm comes over the top as in backstroke, enters the water at the front (4) and continues the body rotation back onto his front again (5). Setting off on his new heading he quickly gets back up to speed using good stroke rhythm and a healthy burst of leg kick (6).
Turning left (as shown above) you slide your left hand past the buoy to rotate onto your back, whilst turning right you slide your right arm past. Make sure you practise both! In a particularly tight turn you might not be able to turn sufficiently in a single corkscrew, in which case perform two in a row, one immediately followed by another.
If you are relatively new to swimming then this may look like an advanced skill but it is not actually that hard when you get the feel and timing of it. Turns And Strategy
A conventional turn bends you through a wide arc as you stay on your front and you gradually stroke around the turn (blue line below) :
That's fine but if the wider path is blocked by slow swimmers you are going to be held up without the ability to perform a corkscrew turn which is much tighter (red). In relation to other swimmers drafting you, if they can't perform a tight turn themselves then you have a golden opportunity to shake them off your toes. Practise In Training
There's very little chance of turning up on race day and performing a good corkscrew turn without practising them beforehand. Get together with some friends in open water, or in an open area of your pool, and work on getting the feel and rhythm of them. It's a lot of fun and like all open water skills can make a huge difference to your performance on race day, so much so that you should practise these skills all year round either in open water or in the pool.
If you're quite new to swimming freestyle, you might well struggle with your breathing. You might be taking on water when you try to breathe or feel desperately out of breath and have to stop for a rest at the end of each length.
Don't worry that's perfectly normal, here are two quick tips to help:The One-Two-Stretch Mantra
One of the biggest causes of breathing problems is if your lead arm is collapsing down into the water as you breathe, as we see with Clare's stroke here:
As you start to take a breath, your lead arm should still be out in front supporting you. If it sinks down in the water with little purchase then your mouth will sink below the surface and you'll take on water.
At this point of the stroke you're naturally thinking 'give me that air
' and nothing else! The key is to let your breath take care of itself and keep your focus on the support of the lead arm instead instead.
To help with this, try repeating this mantra to yourself: 1-2-Stretch-1-2-Stretch
where the 1
are on normal strokes and the stretch is on a breathing stroke, reminding you to keep that lead arm stretched forward for support.
If you have a tendency to pause and over-glide in your stroke then be wary of leaving this arm stationary for too long or you risk stalling. Just stretch and feel like the focus is on that lead arm and not on breathing in.
If you found this tip helped your breathing then take a look at our Bambino Swim Type and see if it rings any bells with your stroke. The Bambino Stroke Correction Guide (here
) will give you plenty more tips to improve your swimming, all tailored to your specific stroke style! Popeye Breathing
Our second tip is to remember to angle your mouth to the side as Paul is demonstrating here:
This looks a bit like Popeye chewing his spinach, which is where the technique gains its name from. Breathing in this way helps you keep your head lower without taking on water, which is important as lifting the head too far causes your legs to sink downwards.
Any Swim Type
can benefit from Popeye breathing but particularly those new to swimming.
Many swimmers (and some coaches) believe that every swimmer should look straight down at the bottom of the pool when they swim, so as to improve their body position. Is this true? Let's look at some swimmers underwater to find out :The Star Of The Pool
First up we have double Olympic gold medallist Rebecca Adlington, showing us a mid head position, looking at the bottom of the pool 1-2 meters ahead of her:
(click images to enlarge)
As you can see Rebecca sits fantastically high in the water, a body position she can easily achieve despite looking slightly ahead. This is very typical of elite pool swimmers who rarely look straight down or very far forwards.
Key point: The very best pool swimmers in the world tend to use a mid head position, looking slightly ahead.The Professional TriathleteFraser Cartmell
is a star of the 70.3 world stage and a great swimmer to boot. Like all elite triathletes, Fraser's main concern is performing well in open water swims and so he uses a very forward looking head position:
Looking so far forwards helps him navigate effectively and find the toes of other swimmers to draft effectively. Note that he can do this while still maintaining a high body position in the water (despite being super-lean).
Key point: If you have good stroke technique, you can achieve a high body position despite looking forwards and for open water swimming this is a major tactical advantage.The Buoyant Age Grouper
Marina is an age group swimmer with a naturally high body position in the water, she's been told to look straight down at the bottom of the pool when she swims but this was very bad advice for her:
By looking straight down she starts to rise up out of the water at the rear:
In a wetsuit, the extra buoyancy exacerbates this problem further, leaving her feeling very unstable. We coached Marina to look a little further forwards, rebalancing her in the water while still maintaining an excellent body position. Looking further forwards also helped her proprioception (body awareness) in front of her head so that she could develop a greater feel for the water during her catch.
The extreme version of this advice is to ask swimmers to 'swim downhill', which is a disaster when their natural body position is already very good :
Here Barbara has added huge frontal resistance after being asked to bury her head in the water. Returning to a higher head position and not pressing down with her chest allowed her to immediately swim more efficiently and be much more comfortable doing so.
Key point: For swimmers with a good natural body position, looking straight down harms their swimming. If you feel unbalanced when swimming (or in your wetsuit in open water) try looking further forwards and see if it helps gives you stability.
The Sinky Legged Swimmer
Glen is a former professional Aussie Rules football player and is relatively new to swimming and triathlon. He suffers greatly from low sinking legs in the water:
Much stronger on the bike and run, this athlete is massively held back by the drag from his low lying legs. To improve his body position there are numerous things he can work on in his stroke, such as:
- Removing hand-entry crossovers which cause scissor kicks and drop the legs downwards.
- Exhaling better into the water to remove excess buoyancy from the chest and make him feel more relaxed.
- Keeping his head low and using the bow wave trough when he breathes.
Once he's worked on these things he can also try a lower head position to help bring his legs up further.
Key point: Looking down can be a useful modification for those with sinky legs. However, it makes navigation and catch development harder so treat it as a last resort by working on other areas of the stroke to improve body position first.
You can see from the examples above that selecting a head position should be an individual thing for individual swimmers - there is no universal head position that is best for everyone.
Try swimming 100m yourself experimenting with your head position, looking in each of the directions below for 25m in turn :
Choose the one that feels best for your stroke and allows you to swim faster and more efficiently, then stick with it. When we try this exercises on our Swim Smooth Clinics we always receive a range of feedback with some swimmers feeling better looking forwards, while others improve when looking downwards, others feel best somewhere in between.
You can repeat this exercise in your wetsuit, you might well find you can look further forwards which can be a great advantage for open water navigation and drafting.
Procrastination is a silent killer of swimming performance; it keeps us doing the safe and familiar things, and stops us making the changes that we need to improve. It keeps us on that frustrating plateau we're on, sometimes for years.
Do you recognise yourself in any of these statements?
I haven't been in the water in ages, when I do go back it's going to be a struggle.
When I'm at the pool I see slow swimmers fighting the water. At all costs I must
work on my stroke technique and focus on efficiency.
I don't feel ready to - join a squad / swim in open water / do a race - as I'm
not a strong enough swimmer yet.
I'm sure my stroke technique is fine, I've been swimming for years and it's
always stood me in good stead. What I need to do is train harder.
Procrastination can take other forms too, such as endlessly studying great swimmers on Youtube or debating technique to the nth degree on internet forums. The more intellectual the swimmer the more elaborate this analysis-paralysis becomes but more often than not people who do this are simply putting off going to the pool and actually swimming.
Our suggestion? Don't put it off another day. Commit to a period of six to eight weeks and make some major changes in your approach to swimming. Then focus on those changes every session and be objective about the outcome by measuring your swimming speed before and after. The worst thing that can happen is that you slow down slightly and need to revert to what you were doing before. But far more likely you'll finally get off that plateau and break through to a higher level of swimming.
What changes should you make? There are some ideas here
but quite likely it's the thing you've been avoiding doing more than everything else.
If you keep on doing what you've always done, you'll keep on getting what you've always got. It's a cliché but so very true.
Over the last week or so Europe has been experiencing an amazing warm and sunny period that is scarcely believable for March. We've heard from many of you who are digging out your wetsuits and going for the first swim of the season at your local open water swimming venue. It's great to be able to do this so early in the year but watch out because the water's still very chilly and this can be a bit of a shock to the system.
If you're a little anxious in open water then the number one thing to remember to do is to exhale into the water continuously with a big long stream of bubbles 'brrrrrrr
'! Our natural reaction is to hold our breath when feeling anxious, building up CO2 in the body. This further heightens feelings of anxiety and so creates a vicious circle leading to the possibility of a panic attack. Splash some cold water on your face for 10-15 seconds before getting in
and when you start swimming simply focus on blowing those bubbles into the water. If you're breathing every three strokes you can use our famous mantra bubble-bubble-breathe
to help you tune into this technique.
This sounds like very basic advice but focusing your mind on something as simple as exhalation is powerful. Blowing bubbles is directly under your control so that you start to settle down and feel more relaxed after a few minutes. Worrying about things not under your control (e.g. waves, the cold, what else might be in the water) will make you more anxious, so focus on something that is under your control (blowing bubbles) and block everything else out.
Have fun out there and be sure to swim at a safe venue with other swimmers and proper life saving support.
|Upcoming Swim Smooth Clinics / One to Ones:|
Cardiff, UK - 11-15th April 2012
Full information: here
Corby, UK - 18th April 2012
Full information: here
Richmond, UK - 24th June 2012
Full information: here
Most women's triathlon and open water swimming wetsuits are simply men's suits cut to the female form, which we think is a pretty underwhelming approach to their design. With the new Huub Aura we started from a clean sheet of paper and designed a bespoke suit for women that is getting rave reviews from all the girls who have tested it (e.g. here
Most women feel unbalanced in their wetsuit. This is caused by too much buoyancy in the hips and legs, which lifts them out of the water at the rear and leaves them bobbing around like a cork with very little stability. This happens because women as a rule women are much more buoyant than men and this buoyancy is distributed differently around the body, with more in the hips and legs.
Many women also like to use their kick when they swim and being brought too high at the rear by their wetsuit means they start to kick into the air, which is very ineffective and disconcerting.
A third difference is that women find wetsuits more restricting around the shoulders than men and suffer to a far greater extent from shoulder fatigue than their male counterparts.
What's the solution? We sat down with the new team at Huub and designed a special low buoyancy suit that is ultra flexible, particularly in the chest, upper back and shoulders. We named it the 'Aura' and it is incredibly effective for women who have a naturally high body position in the water.
One additional benefit of this design is that the thinner neoprene creates a suit that is much easier to put on and take off, and because it is thinner it doesn't make your legs look like tree trunks!
So girls, when selecting a new wetsuit choose carefully and find a suit that matches your natural buoyancy and body position in the water. In doing so, make sure you take a good look at the new Huub Aura, you won't believe how nice it feels in the water and how well you swim in it. For more information see the Huub website
For men reading this, if you are in the opposite situation and have sinky legs in the water then check out the Huub 3:5 profile suits - you will never have experienced a leg-lifting effect like it!
All Huub wetsuits have been designed by Swim Smooth and renowned sports science Professor Huub Toussaint to match the stroke characteristics of individual swimmers for maximum comfort and performance. The new range goes on sale in April.
|Upcoming Swim Smooth Clinics:|
Corby, UK - 18th April 2012
Full information: here
Drafting another swimmer (see the two ways here
) can save you up to 38% of your energy expenditure. With such large savings on offer, swimming in a good draft can feel very easy despite you moving at a decent pace.
In a race situation this creates a common dilemma, should you stay in an easy draft or swim around and go on your own? In this situation how do you know what's right to do? At the moment we're half way through our clinic series in the UK and in the section on open water skills this is the most common question we've been asked by the swimmers. Here's our answer:Pace Awareness When Drafting
To know whether you are really moving too slowly when drafting, you need to practise this in the controlled environment of the pool to learn how it feels. Grab a buddy who is a slightly better swimmer than you and have him or her swim at your target race pace for around 200-400m while you draft them. Settle into the draft and get into the rhythm of swimming - you'll soon gain an appreciation of how this target pace feels - it may surprise you how easy it is!
Pacing skills are a very important part of being a good swimmer but as a triathlete or open water swimmer you also need pace judgement when drafting so that you can make tactical decisions like this in a race. There's only one way to develop your drafting pace judgement and that's with practise. For that reason we strongly recommend you work on your drafting skills (and also your sighting and navigation skills) all year round in the pool. It's great fun and will really help you achieve your potential come the open water season.
|Drafting skills are important for any swimmer|
to master, whatever their ability level
In fact, Swim Smooth's philosophy is that stroke technique, swimming fitness and open water skills are equally important and should all be given equal priority in your training. Our new UK Certified Coaches
follow this philosophy in their squad sessions by including regular open water skills sessions.Don't Like Drafting?
Many swimmers say that they dislike drafting and that's only natural, the concentration required is higher and the hustle and bustle of swimming close to other swimmers can feel a little disconcerting at first. However, like with anything, with practise you can become familiar and comfortable with it and the performance improvements on offer are too large to ignore. Drafting well can easily be worth two minutes per km swum!
Always remember the number one rule of drafting: PRACTISE MAKES PERFECT
You might have noticed on some of our recent videos
how we've included a 'time between strokes' measurement in seconds. This is the time delay between one stroke finishing at the back and the next one starting at the front:
It turns out that this is a very interesting measurement because it's a good indication of how much someone glides within their stroke. Some swimmers have a slight overlap, with the front stroke starting before the rear finishes and we indicate this with a negative number.
We have some clever video analysis software that lets us easily measure the time between strokes from video clips of swimmers and we recently spent a happy Sunday afternoon analysing hundreds of swimmers of all ability levels. As we were just interested in studying the effect of gliding on speed as closely as possible, we removed all the swimmers who were fighting the water (e.g. those with a large crossover in front of the head or a large scissor kick) from the dataset. They would have been in Region A below:
Included on the graph are famous swimmers such as Ian Thorpe, Michael Phelps, Rebecca Adlington, Sun Yang (1), Alex Popov, Grant Hackett, Lotte Friis (2) and Ross Davenport. It also includes professional triathletes (3) and most of the popular swimming demonstration clips on Youtube, as well as data from normal swimmers of all ability levels.
The relationship between gliding and efficiency is really striking isn't it? Wherever you are on the graph, if you introduce too much glide to your stroke you will slide down the relationship and lose chunks of speed and efficiency. In fact once a swimmer is over 0.7 seconds of glide (we catagorise this as 'Extreme Overgliding') they have become so inefficient they normally have to stop and take a significant rest every 50m:
Notice that there is a complete absence of swimmers in Region B, a region where fast swimmers with a significant glide would sit if there were any :
Many swimmers (and some coaches) believe that elite swimmers do have a significant glide in their timing but this is an illusion caused by the sheer length of their strokes - when you study the footage and take the measurements you find that there is hardly any gap between strokes at all. Their freestyle is continuous, transitioning smoothly from one to the other without any dead-spots or pauses.
Even though elite swimmers have a very small gap between strokes or even a slight overlap between them, this still gives a front quadrant stroke with the arms passing in front of the head (one over the water, one underneath). This is because the recovering arm travels quickly forwards over the surface as the stroking arm catches and pulls relatively slowly under the water.
Note that if you are going to study footage in this manner yourself, it's best to study clips where the swimmer has already swum 50m or further before taking the measurements. All swimmers can sustain a lower stroke count and swim quicker for the first 25m or 50m swum before settling down. You may have noticed this drop-off yourself if you've ever counted your strokes over several lengths.Introducing The Overgliderometer!
Our graphics team had a little fun here but we hope the Overgliderometer makes a serious point, highlighting the transitions between stroke styles for different lengths of glide:
The Smooth Swim Type
(e.g. Ian Thorpe or Sun Yang) have a very small gap between strokes of 0.1 to 0.2 seconds. The Swinger
(elite open water swimmers and triathletes) have an overlap or tiny gap between -0.1 and 0.1 seconds, this stroke style is ideal for open water swimming where rhythm and momentum are key. The Classic Overglider
(already losing a lot of efficiency) is in the range 0.4 to 0.7 seconds and Extreme Overgliders (very slow and inefficient) glide for 0.7 seconds or more.Overgliders
In an effort to make their stroke as long as is physically possible, many swimmers have placed a heavy emphasis on gliding with scant regard for the rhythm of their stroke. Just like we teach that short scrappy strokes can be inefficient as the swimmer fights the water, so too is an overly long freestyle stroke detrimental to performance.
Some swimmers say that they like this 'mini rest' between strokes but given that water is over 800 times more dense than air, pausing and gliding only results in deceleration. Each new stroke then has to re-accelerate the body in the water and this becomes very wasteful of your energy. It's also very common to see swimmers add a strange 'kick-start' action with the legs to re-start the stalled stroke. This adds drag and further harms your efficiency.
The term 'Glide' has long been used by swim coaches and is well meant to describe a smooth, efficient, unhurried freestyle stroke. Unfortunately it has also been misinterpreted to mean pause, stop and do nothing momentarily. At Swim Smooth we avoid using the term glide as it is so easily misinterpreted to mean pause and do nothing.Long Stroke Styles
Many swimmers aspire to have a long smooth freestyle stroke and that is fine for pool swimming as long as you create it in the right way and it doesn't become overly long. There are three ways to make your stroke longer:
1) Reduce your drag so that you slip through the water more easily
2) Increase your propulsion so each stroke pushes you further
3) Artificially elongate the stroke by deliberately pausing and gliding between strokes
Reducing your drag and increasing your propulsion (1 & 2) are clearly good things and will make you faster and more efficient. But as we have seen in the data, trying to make your stroke longer by introducing a significant glide is putting the cart before the horse and only makes you less efficient. If you've tried Overgliding yourself, you'll know that it ultimately leads to frustration for this reason.
Be careful, there are still plenty of proponents of Overgliding on the internet today. If a long smooth stroke style appeals to you then like any swimmer you should work on reducing your drag, improving your propulsive technique and create a smooth rhythmical stroke without any dead-spots or pauses - just like elite swimmers do. This will naturally result in the optimal stroke length for you without chasing an artificially low stroke count by introducing a 'pause and glide' into your stroke.If Long Doesn't Suit You
Depending on your individual make-up, a really long stroke style may simply not suit you. That's perfectly fine because a slightly shorter stroke can be just as efficient when drag is low and propulsive technique is good. However, what will make your stroke style unique is that you need a greater emphasis on stroke rhythm, perfect for punching through waves and chop in open water swimming. This is the refined Swinger
style of stroke.