Swimming Exercises: Underwater Stroke Analysis and Freestyle Catch

Swimming Tips by Dan Daly

DALY Tip 1:

Underwater video analysis is a great way to assess balance and streamline, as well as the catch and pull phases of your stroke. Asymmetries in coordination and strength can easily be identified. Like a lack of coordination in a non-dominant arm, breathing to a non-preferred side, or stability and balance rotating left to right. Water and dryland drills help isolate these issues, allowing you to focus on one piece at a time.

Here are a few examples of water and dryland set pairings to help improve balance and buoyancy or weak phases of your stroke. 

Single arm stroke swim drill 4x25m 

Single arm dryland cord drill 4x5 reps each arm 

Side front side kick 4x25m 

Side front side plank 4x5 each side 

Catch up swim drill 4x25m 

Catch up dryland cord drill 4x5 reps each arm 


DALY Tip 2: 

The catch phase of freestyle occurs out in front of the body with what’s referred to as an early vertical forearm (EVF) - fingers down elbow up. It places the forearm in a position to be used as a paddle propelling water directly back to move your forward. Ideal hand position is in front or just outside the shoulder for maximum strength and leverage. 

Here are a few swim and dryland drills to improve the mobility and coordination to set your best catch. 

Alternating Catch Drill 

Catch Scull

Shoulder Internal Rotation Stretch 

Dryland Cord Catch and Pull



DALY Tip 3: 

There were a lot of questions and comments from last week's catch post on open or closed fingers. Several studies support increased drag and thereby water caught, with a slightly open hand, including one study showing a 2.5% increase in velocity or .6 sec in 50m! While drag is best reduced during the entry with a closed hand, you will catch and pull more water with a slightly opened one. Here are a few studies looking at various hand positions at various phases of the stroke. 



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