Thursday, 14 June 2012

Freestyle Technique: Bent Elbows

You see it all the time - it is often the ideal moment for any swimming photographer. The bent elbow arm recovery (along with a breath) is considered to be the most beautiful moment in a freestyle race; and for good reason, too!

The bent elbow recovery is one of two standard recovery options. The second is something called the straight arm recovery, which will be covered in a later post. Most professional swimming athletes and coaches, along with myself, believe that the bent arm recovery is the overall best option - however there has been much controversy surrounding the subject.

The bent arm recovery is performed by first taking one freestyle stroke. The hand moves all the way past the hip underwater, and then the elbow is the first thing to lift out of the water. The elbow lifts up until the hand is completely out of the water, and then the hand drives forward with the elbow still up high. The hand should enter the water at an approximate 45-degree angle, and then the next underwater pull occurs. Keep in mind that this is the recovery phase, meaning that your arm should be relaxed; the shoulder should be what drives the hand forward. The recovery phase is exactly what it implies; a short resting period for the arms before the next stroke.

The bent elbow recovery is by far the most commonly used arm recovery in freestyle. It is very versatile and can be used for any swimming distance. However, the shorter the distance, the more common the straight arm recovery becomes in high level competitions. We'll find out why on the next Intermediate Lesson, hope you enjoyed!

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