different way to crawl

I took swimming lessons and was taught to swim crawl using the typical S shape through the water.

Today the swim coach told me to just use straight arms. Just reach down like you are trying to touch the bottom of the pool. I have to admit that it was very different, I could feel the force of pulling through the water.

He said that this is the way that many current top swimmers are swimming front crawl. He did say that they were built like brick outhouses but suggested that this style would not be a problem for me to adopt and may be advantagous in that it will encourage or force me to straighten my arms as much as poss. (I have damaged both my elbows in bike accidents so they don't straighten tool well.)

Does anyone else use this style? How effective do you find it? Is it better for open water where the forces are very different?


  • Interesting article but as it suggests most suitable for short distances I won't be trying it. Good luck with the change.

  • Is this similar to SwimSmooth's swinger?

    Trying to move to elbow high/fingers dragging (typical 'zip' tri drill) has caused a previous shoulder injury to flare, causing me to be out of the pool for about 3 weeks now. I've reverted to my more swinging OW style recovery.

    Problem is it tends to catch other people in the face in the same lane.... image

  • It seems every coach has a different approach.  I have been told to change my stroke as my arm is too straight in the water and ineffective.  I am now trying to keep the elbow more bent and I definitely feel the water more and muscles are aching as I adapt to it.  It is making me a little quicker....we shall see.
  • Yes, you still need to bend your elbows, the elbow should be the  highest point of your stroke as you pull, however the "S" shape went out of fashion a few years ago. Your hand should point down immediately it enters the water to start the pull, the "straight arm" relates to the forearm, it doesn't mean your whole arm. As you pull back your elbow rises out of the water and you should be able to feel the water pressure on your hand and forearm. Make sure your hand exits the water by your thigh - many swimmers lose quite a lot of their effectiveness by pulling their hand out of the water too early. Watch videos of Rebecca Adlington and notice how she makes herself really long in the water, stretching her leading arm out in front as far as possible as she rolls and following through behind her. And make sure you're not crossing your arm over the midline of your body as you reach forward, that can lose you centimetres. Our tri club coach is constantly scolding my OH for crossing the centre, she says he's a good swimmer but still could be seconds better by not crossing over.
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