Thursday, February 4, 2010

Freestyle Technique and Breathing Bilaterally

Freestyle is a continuous, whole body movement in which one side lines up finger to toe, followed by the other side lining up finger to toe in a smooth rolling transition. The smoother the transition, the more effective the stroke the stroke becomes.

A swimmer's most streamlined position in the water occurs when he/ she is stretched out on the side, one hand reaching forward -as if being pulled by the tip of the fingers -with the rest of the body trailing behind. That is the exact body position to be while rolling to take a breath in front crawl. One arm is "spearing" forward, the other finishing off the last stroke, with the body gliding hydro-dynamically through the water.

Breathing in freestyle may be done bilaterally – which means alternating breaths to each side. There are many advantages to breathing in this way, including:

1. It is balancing out your stroke, so you are not working out lopsided.
2. Building symmetrical musculature on your back and arms (asymmetrical strength can lead to over use injuries)
3. Easing neck pain from always rotating to just one side.
4. In open water (as you would in a triathlon), you will be able to check for landmarks, avoid splashes from other swimmers as well as waves.
Just remember, the stroke is a constant rolling motion between the two sides and balanced breathing will help achieve the best results!
Ask any of the swim instructors for pointers and drills to assist you in achieving the perfect technique!

Written by Karin Stender
Swimming Instructor, Seattle Athletic Club Downtown

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