How to take an extra 1 minute off your 1500m open water swim time!? : Push phase swim drills
The push stage of your stroke is where the majority of your forward momentum is generated and is the most dynamic phase of the stroke. When performed correctly this will provide you with a longer and more balanced stroke
At the start of the push phase your 'paddle' (which is the area running from your elbow to your finger tips) is at a position where it is fully engaged with the water allowing its full face to be pushed.
The real acceleration in the stroke starts from this position. Increase the speed and pressure against the water with your "Paddle". Your elbow and hand now start sweeping in towards your belly button, as you roll onto your side more.
Your paddle now sweeps out towards your thigh, and accelerates as your arm becomes straighter. Apply increasing pressure on the water to create forward propulsion. Continue with the rolling action from your hips / trunk as your hand sweeps past the top of your thigh. From hee your wrist wants to start to hyper-extend to continue pointing backwards and propelling water behind you, pushing you forwards.
To maximise the push phase of the stroke it is important that your hand continues beyond the top of your thigh. Make sure your hand is perpendicular to your hip as you finish the stroke. This generates the most power in this phase of the stroke.
By focusing on the following drills and above technique, you will improve your distance per stroke, overall stroke efficiency, and reduce your stroke count per length
Swim Drills to enhance the Push Phase
The following swim drills are designed to encourage the correct push technique, and will encourage you to finish the complete stroke.
Touch thigh drill
Continue performing the push until your arm is almost straight and your hand is next to your thigh. Ensure that your thumb touches your thigh as your hand sweeps past, whilst remaining perpendicular to your leg. This will encourage you to finish the stroke
Power Push Drill
Once your 'paddle' is at 90 degrees to your shoulder, your arm speed changes, and accelerates all the way from your shoulder until your arm is almost straight. You should feel your triceps muscle engaging in the back of your arm when performing this correctly. The push phase of the stroke is where the most power and forward propulsion are generated, and this will enhance other phases in the stroke.
Try to count your strokes over 4 lengths and then find the average, then for a further 4 lengths try and reduce this by 1-2 strokes by using these drils to help lengthen your stroke.
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Nick is a level 3 British Triathlon Coach, STA level 2 Swim Teacher, Level 1 Training Peaks coach, and Training Bible coaching Master endurance coach with 25 years’ experience in triathlon, founder and Head Coach for Speedy Swimming.