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Lesson 3

Lesson goal: Introduction to the Stroke: the Intention of Swimming

In order to swim efficiently you need to pull and push yourself through the water.  The front part of the stroke should be done with the intention of pulling your body's mass over your hand/arm in the direction of travel.  The back part should be done with the intent to push your body forward in the direction of travel.

We often tell our students: if you had to pull yourself through jello you would try and extend your arm as far as possible and engage your hand and forearm in a back-scooping motion to get the best grip possible. You certainly would not push your arm down to go forward?

Many swimmers "dig" during the first part of the stroke - pushing their arm (and water) down towards the bottom of the pool, rather than pulling their body forwards. This makes it difficult for the body to stay streamlined and balanced.

To understand why this is so, look at this video. Every action has an opposite and equal reaction. If the first part of your stroke consists of a downward arm movement, (1) the resulting force will push the front part of your body up, and (2) the back part of your body will be pushed down [the opposite reaction] because the body rotates around its center of buoyancy.

Action Reaction

All swimming forces have an opposite reaction.

Advanced tip: It is possible to have an awareness of the mass of your body and learn to pull along near the center-line of that mass to minimize torque.