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Swimming Arm Movement: Straight Arm Catch, Pull, Push To Bent

You don't want straight arms movement under water!

The truth is that once you have taught someone to swim with straight arms movement under water you want to then teach them to bend their arms a little under that water.

Image of a swimmer going through a Straight Arm Movement step by step
Straight Arm Movement

You see a straight arm causes fatigue over time so you need to bend your arm to reduce that.

Their are a lots of nuances that can be taught to a swimmer that will give gradual and incremental improvements once you have masted a basic stroke. This is mostly where a coach comes in. But it's my job as a swimming teacher to introduce a relatively efficient basic stroke and part of my job before a coach takes over is to introduce slightly bent arms under the water.

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A bent arm action under water is often not necessary to teach, as holding your arms straight under water is not that easy.

Even if you teach straight arm action, your beginner swimmers will usually start with that action, but over time, under the water, their arms will tend to become bent.

So a good swimming instructor will simply keep an eye on the development of the underwater arm action and only correct it if a student hasn't done it already as they have gotten better at swimming,

It's usually really very easy you tell them to relax their arm under the water as they catch, pull and push under the water. But don't just cop out with that, demonstrate just exactly how the arm should move under the water like so:

Image of how a swimmer goes from a straight arm action to a bent arm action under water. Image shows how the arm moves from entry fo the water down the center of your body and out past your hips
Bent Arm Action Underwater

The result is usually a slight bent arm.

But it is my very strong opinion, that you should not try to introduce a bent arm action under water from the start. It is difficult to do this properly until you have a good strong catch, pull and push under the water with a relatively straight arm.

If you try, you more often than not end up with a swim student not finishing their stroke and that's a bad thing. But once a swimmer has a good strong straight arm action under the water a slight bend in their arm can only improve the stroke.


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