A Closer Look at Technique Misconceptions: Front Quadrant Swimming

The following is an excerpt from the November 2017 issue of Swimming World Magazine. To read the full article, download the November 2017 issue by clicking here

Many people believe that it is worth copying the technique of the fastest swimmers. In reality, even the fastest swimmers have technique limitations, but they offset them with strength and conditioning. The purpose of this series of articles is to address scientifically the technique misconceptions that have become “conventional wisdom,” and to present options that are more effective.

A common misconception is that front quadrant swimming (FQS) is an effective freestyle technique. While FQS has been used by top swimmers, that is not justification for promoting that strategy. FQS produces an arm coordination that is counterproductive to fast swimming.

FQS does not have the purported benefit of lengthening the hull because it does not change the wave pattern. In addition, there is a substantial limitation in the resulting negative arm index of coordination (IdC).

Swimmers typically practice with a negative IdC and increase to a slightly positive IdC for racing. It would be much more productive for a swimmer to practice with at least a zero IdC so that an increase in stroke rate would produce a very positive IdC at racing speeds. This focus on a positive IdC will enable more swimmers to achieve or exceed the current world records.

Dr. Rod Havriluk is a sports scientist and consultant who specializes in swimming technique instruction and analysis. His unique strategies provide rapid improvement while avoiding injury. Learn more at the STR website, or contact Rod through info@swimmingtechnology.com.


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  1. Neil Morgan

    Not sure about this. FQS makes me faster through the water. Not if I exaggerate it until I am doing catchup, but definitely if I just allow myself to rotate and reach with the front arm as the other arm recovers.

Author: Taylor Brien

Taylor Brien is the Assistant Operations Manager and a staff writer at Swimming World. A native of Bettendorf, IA and a 2015 graduate of Illinois College, she has covered a variety of events since joining the SW team in 2015, including the NCAA Championships, World Championships, Olympic Trials, and 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

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