Monday, August 25, 2008

Learn How To Swim 101 - Beginning Freestyle - Common Faults- Catch Up Stroke and Breath Timing



Other swimming teachers sometimes really object when I say this, but I don't think Catch up stroke is such a bad thing.

Catch Up stroke is simply where you use a kick board to learn your freestyle. In fact you don't need a kick board you can use your hands. Just place your hand in a torpedo position and with every stroke return your hands to the torpedo position.

The Catch Up Stroke used to be a very popular stroke among swimming teachers. In fact it was taught as the teaching method of choice by those who taught the swimming teachers to teach for many years.

The advantages of the Catch up stroke is that it teaches the student to have their hands pass each other. The disadvantage is that it means that there is no constant movement in your stroke.

Constant movement in your stroke is definitely more efficient than Catch Up, as obviously it means that you can swim faster and with less effort.

So why do I like Catch Up? Because aside from freestyle over reaching one of the other biggest problems that many students have is what I call the double stroke.

The double stroke is where a swim student does a little doggie paddle (two or more fast small strokes) with one or both of their arms in order to take a breath. This usually starts when the student is having trouble taking their breath and has not got the rotation in order to get their mouth out of water far enough to breathe in with out sucking in water.

Some times it starts for other reasons such as wanting to keep their head out of water long enough to take more than one breath which is usually caused by the student not blowing bubbles. But more on that another time.

There are two ways that I know to correct the double stroke. One is to explain how an efficient stroke works which I will also talk about another time. The other is Catch up.

Yes if bad timing is the cause of the double stroke you can fix it with Catch Up stroke.



The way you tell if a swimming student has bad timing in their stroke is by watching to see if the student begins to breathe at the end of a stroke or the beginning. If at the end then the problem is timing.

You can't allow the student to do Catch Up stroke long term or it becomes a habit in itself that will need to be corrected later (very simply actually, just tell the student to swim faster). But if you use Catch Up as a drill and then go back to a normal stroke it is a very effective tool.

I've created a short animation to help illustrate this fault and drill. I hope it helps.

Next I'll try to tackle more Freestyle Breathing Faults.

Enjoy
Richard

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