Recovery is the part of your stroke where your arms are coming over the water or in breaststroke when your arms are driving forward. Good recovery technique saves energy, increases speed and sets up your pull. In freestyle the ideal recovery is when your arms are relaxed, elbows are kept high and you are moving forward with your elbows, which I will explain in this video.
The only way to get faster in swimming is to stay relaxed as you increase your speed. It is also the best way to save energy. You have probably heard not to fight the water and that happens when your muscles are tense. It’s not difference in the recovery phase of your stroke; a good drill to practice keeping your arms relaxed during recovery is fingertip drag freestyle. Whereby you drag your fingertips on the surface as you recover over the water; keep your forearm and your hand loose and relaxed.
The next key to recovery is keeping your elbows high. You have probably heard it referred to as a high elbow recovery. The aim is to get your elbows out of the water and above the water so your upper arm is at an angle of about 40 degrees or more with the water. Any less than this and it means that the swimmer is recovering too flat with the water and not getting proper rotation. Finger tip drag is the best drill to practice getting high elbow recovery and shoulder stretches to increase flexibility can also help.
The last key to a good recovery and the way to tie it all together is by using your elbow to drive the recovery. I see a lot of swimmers using their hand to lead the recovery. Therefore they are bringing their arm forward with their hand; what this does is drop the elbow. Instead feel your arm being brought forward with your elbow. As your arm finishes the pool phase your arm is being lifted out of the water with your elbow and then the elbow moves forward towards your head and your hand and your forearm follow it around cleanly entering the water.
To recap the elbow is what brings the arm forward in the recovery not the hand. Try it in your next session and feel yourself gliding a lot easier in your freestyle.
If you like simple tips to get fast results just like this one we regularly cover swim technique in Effortless Swimming’s Membership Program. In the next video we look at the entry and glide phase of the stroke and how you can pull through with no bubbles on your hand and reduce your stroke count to swim faster without using as much energy.