Video stroke technique analysis

A coach recently alerted me to a couple non-canonical things I’m doing with my freestyle technique. Of course, I had no clue I was doing these things. It occurred to me that it’s been years since I’d seen my stroke on video. Actually, probably about 15 years - at least as far back as high school. What else am I doing that I’m unaware of?

Having multiple underwater cameras positioned at different angles is ideal, but can be expensive to set up. On the theory that something is better than nothing, I bought a Canon PowerShot, which shoots HD video. Then, it was just a matter of propping it up at the end of my lane and pressing the shutter button.

I did a set of {100 free, 200 IM, 100 free, 200 IM, 100 free}. The 100’s free I descended to threshold effort (not all-out), and for the 200’s IM I tried to swim the 2nd faster than the 1st. I took about a minute rest between each swim.

For now, here are the videos of the three descended 100’s freestyle:

On the first, I hit about 1:11 with a stroke rate of 55-60 per minute. On the next swim, I hit 1:05 with a stroke rate of 65-70. On the last (threshold effort, but still controlled), I hit 1:01 with a stroke rate of 75-80.

The two issues my coach raised re: my technique were: (1) a tendency to “swing” my left arm around (rather than high-elbow recovery), especially at higher levels of effort; and (2) a thumb-first entry with my right hand. Issue #1 is definitely noticeable on the third video.

Issue #2 (thumb-first entry) is a bit more subtle. Just for kicks, I decided to do one more 100 - this time with paddles & buoy. I aimed to hit the same time as #3, but with the effort of #2. I came pretty close: 1:00 with a stroke rate of 67-70.

Watch my right arm - with paddles, it’s much easier to see the thumb-first entry!

Overall, though, I was pleasantly surprised with what I saw. I’ve put a lot of effort recently into making myself as efficient as possible in the water, and I think it’s paying off.