Updated: Jun 16, 2022
Going a Little Deeper
Many of you have heard me saying that your hand is coming up at the front of the stroke slowing you down, e.g. putting the brakes on. This often occurs when you are trying to keep your hand too near the surface of the water as you extend forward. When the body rotates the elbow has to drop to keep the hand near the surface. This action is slowing you down by 1. pushing water forward with the hand and forearm (picture 3) and 2. delaying the start of your catch by having to push the hand & forearm down prior to starting the catch (picture 4). You effectively can't start the catch until your finger tips are below the wrist and wrist below the elbow.
What you should try doing is enter the hand into the water and extend forward slightly deeper so that you are able to keep your elbow higher than the wrist and wrist higher than the fingertips (picture 5). From here you can then bend the wrist & elbow and start pressing water backward effectively (picture 6). You can experiment with different depths somewhere between 20-30cm depending on how tall/broad you are and the level of flexibility through your upper back and shoulders. Of course you don't want to go too deep as this will send your hand down towards the bottom of the pool, it's a matter of finding the sweet spot between the two.
As you improve your catch you may feel your stroke rhythm lifting and your catch and pull through feels 'too easy'. These are good signs that you are getting things right - don't be put off! Whenever you are making changes to your stroke, be objective and monitor how fast you are swimming versus your level of effort, don't just use your judgement of what feels immediately right and wrong, doing so can be very misleading at times.