Critique My Stroke

evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
edited August 2013 in General Discussion
In an effort to put my money where my mouth is, I'm going to try to start a thread with the following aims:

1. Post a high-quality video of your stroke, either in the pool or open water.
2. Tell us what you think about your stroke, what you've been working on, etc.
3. Other forum members offer their thoughts on the video. If you don't feel comfortable offering advice, just say what you're seeing and what you like about the person's stroke.

Here's a video taken of my stroke a couple months ago at the Swim Smooth coaching clinic in Livermore, California. Paul Newsome himself was behind the camera.

Note: your video doesn't need to be as high-quality as Paul's video. Just high-quality enough that we have a good view of your stroke. Underwater views if available!

Things I'm working on:
- slight thumb-first entry on right hand
- slight scissor-kick during breathing motion


  • jenschumacherjenschumacher Los Angeles, CAMember
    Looks good @evmo. I would say a slightly earlier catch would be another thing to work on, but then who can't use that? Also it looks like you have a slight delay in your left side breath but I'm having trouble seeing why. Perhaps left arm is getting stuck finishing or right arm is pausing out in front, although both of those are likely symptoms rather than causes. Anyone seeing that?
  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    Good catch, Jen! (no pun intended). I also have noticed the delayed left-breath, and have no clue how to fix it. Thanks for the feedback!
  • One of the problems I have with videotaping swimmers is that we almost always get to see the swimmer "fresh." Evmo's video is of him swimming only a 100 (at a relaxed 1:05 pace I must note). I believe it would be more helpful to us - and him - to see what the stroke looks like when he begins to get a little fatigued - maybe at the end of a 500.

    A much better video to analyze would be Evmo's impressive Bay to Breakers video:

    As for a little critique (since he put it out there): I see Evmo's rotation to be out of balance - very heavy on the left side. Causes him to push his left arm forward in the recovery, separate his legs, and wiggle his hips a bit. Also the reason for his delayed breath to the left.

    Regardless... His stroke rate and power seems to work just fine. I'd be hard-pressed to recommend any changes.

    Disclaimer: I am not a coach. Never have been. Never will be. I shall not be held accountable for any suggestions, recommendations or criticisms of anyone's stroke technique other than my own... and my wife's.
  • PmbPmb Member
    Am I the only one who can not see any of the videos? There are only blank spaces... I'm on an ipad though, maybe that's the problem...
  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    Thanks @RuffWater! Very useful feedback. Guilty as charged on the asymmetrical rotation (I think you mean heavy on the right, not left, yes?).

    Thanks for posting the B2B video - the over-rotation is especially pronounced when I'm breathing every 2 strokes to the right, as I do when I'm racing. I'm capable of breathing bilaterally (see Swim Smooth video), but even then I'm not quite achieving symmetrical rotation.

    The B2B video is revealing, especially near the end, because that's about as sloppy as I ever get. After 2+ hours in 55f water (53f outside the Gate), I was fatigued and cold.
    RuffWater wrote:
    Disclaimer: I am not a coach. Never have been. Never will be.
    I don't put much stock in "coach" status, anyway. There are many non-coaching swimmers (such as yourself, probably) who know a lot more about swimming than many people who call themselves "coaches."
  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    edited August 2013
    Pmb wrote:
    Am I the only one who can not see any of the videos? There are only blank spaces... I'm on an ipad though, maybe that's the problem...
    The mobile version of the site doesn't display embedded videos. Typically the mobile version should only serve to low-resolution displays such as smartphones. I don't know about the iPad, but my Android tablet shows the full version. Sorry for the inconvenience.
  • Leonard_JansenLeonard_Jansen Charter Member
    edited August 2013
    My disclaimer: Anyone who listens to me is crazy and telling someone who could eat me alive at any distance about his stroke is an act of hubris...

    Just a few quick thoughts...
    Pool stroke and open water stoke should be somewhat different, especially in open water when it is rough/choppy, as it is in the video provided.

    The open water stroke:
    Looks pretty good relative to the need to adapt your catch to the roughness, although comment 1) below applies to this also. Comment 2) below probably does NOT apply given the roughness.

    The pool stroke:
    1) It is not clear if you are initiating the stroke with your arms or your hips. It should be your hips. Easiest way to tell is if your triceps get tired after awhile, it's your arms. If it is your arms it means that you are using some of your forward propulsive energy to rotate your body - something that your hips can do much better. By initiating with your hips, you do the following:
    a) Conserve the use of your arms, especially the triceps.
    b) Recruit the (very strong) latisimus dorsi muscles to help with the propulsion.

    2) You are placing your hands in the water with your arm extended too far in front. By doing so you limit your ability to glide (no NOT overgliding). You are trying to glide a bit, that is clear, but if your arm enters the water straight, it's a dead thing. Your right arm has a bit of glide but your left moves downward too quickly. (compare the two from above). If you do the standard "fingertip drag drill" that will show you exactly where your hand should enter the water. By placing it a bit closer you do the following:
    a) Convert some of the turbulent relative flow of the water to laminar flow, making it easier to go through. (This is similar to the reason that they used to put those long sword-like things on the front of super-sonic planes.)
    b) Allows your hand/arm to enter the water with less resistance - listen to the noise that your hands make when they touch the water now and imagine the resistance that the disturbed water makes.
    c) Gives you a longer profile in the water NOT at the boundary layer - the surface tension is greater than the underwater resistance.
    d) Makes Early Vertical Forearm catches easier. In one of your "Freshwater Swimmer" blog posts, you had Dave Scott (I think...senility) talking about not extending the arm to maximum in order to get an easier (and less injury-prone) EVF. He is dead-on and it's hard to do this if you put your arm in fully extended.

    OK, like I said, pure hubris.


    P.S. If you don't have a cat, you need to get one. If there is any motion in swimming that a cat does something analogous to, watch how a cat does it. Cats are not animals, they are real-time analog computers for solving physics problems. There is a (much) longer explanation for comment 1) based on one of the (several) ways a cat can land on its feet when it falls. (My sincere gratitude to "Dolby" for the endless number of times I dropped him onto the bed experimenting with this and he didn't bite me.)

    “Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.” - Oscar Wilde

  • Here are 2 videos of my stroke. The first is in the first half hour of a recent 6 hour lake swim. It's freshwater, and my legs looks kinda draggy.

    The second is towards the end of the same swim, in slightly less peachy conditions

    I certainly go faster in the sea......

    Comments/help welcomed!

  • molly1205molly1205 Lincoln, NebraskaSenior Member
    It looked like you were on a collision course with that ferry! Personally, i think your stroke looks excellent, very relaxed and well balanced.

    I like LJ's advice - especially to get a cat. If dropped into the water with a cat, your stroke rate would increase dramatically.

    Molly Nance, Lincoln, Nebraska

  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member
    I wish I stroked as well and as fast as you @Jbetley.

    We're all just carbon, water, starlight, oxygen and dreams

  • heartheart San Francisco, CACharter Member
    This is me at about Hour Six (note the awesome conditions!). Seems like my catch was already pretty wimpy - suggestions/pointers?

  • How do you stay so high in water?
  • heartheart San Francisco, CACharter Member
    Bioprene. :D
  • molly1205molly1205 Lincoln, NebraskaSenior Member
    You have nice smooth stroke @heart. Looks like you could extend your follow-thru a little bit, but otherwise, your stroke is even and your body position is well balanced. Nice.

    Molly Nance, Lincoln, Nebraska

  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member
    I'd be happy if my stroke looked like that after 6 hours. ;)

    We're all just carbon, water, starlight, oxygen and dreams

  • @heart: noticed that you have almost a 3/4 catchup stroke here. Does it help you? I do it too, but usually only in choppier water.
  • heartheart San Francisco, CACharter Member
    That's pretty much how I usually roll, @Leadhyena. Except at this point in the game I was probably already fairly tired, so it was not as core-driven as it should be.
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