Fitter And Faster Swim Drill Of The Week: Single Arm Freestyle


Welcome to the “Swim Drill of the Week” sponsored by The Fitter and Faster Swim Tour presented by Swimming World will be bringing you a drill, concept, or tip that you can implement with your team on a regular basis. While certain weeks may be more appropriate for specific levels of swimming (club, high school, college, or masters), Drill Of The Week excerpts are meant to be flexible for your needs and inclusive for all levels of swimming.

This week’s drill is Single Arm Freestyle. While a theoretically simple drill, when done correctly this is one of the most challenging freestyle drills out there. Working on balance, rotation, and a smooth catch and recovery, this drill requires ultimate patience and concentration on the part of the athlete.

To do this drill, drop one arm to your side, using only your opposite arm to pull. Rotating fully with each arm stroke, swimmers will swim as if they were using their dropped arm, rotating from side to side and staying as long and controlled with their stroke as possible. Breathing should only happen to the side with the dropped arm. While more difficult, this forces swimmers to completely rotate and fully engage their core, hips, and legs in their rotation.

There are a few key things to watch for with this drill: 1) full rotation to each side, 2) consistent kick throughout the drill, and 3) long and efficient strokes on the pulling arm. If swimmers are breathing to their dropped arm side the rotation should be equal on both sides, but make sure they are being patient and using their hips with each stroke. You should not initiate the next arm stroke until the head is back in line with the rest of the torso, as this forces them to rotate from their entire body rather than just their head and shoulders.

Also make sure that your swimmers are keeping a steady kick during this drill. Since is does require unusual coordination of the arms, it can be easy for swimmers to forget about controlling the lower half of their bodys. The last key thing to watch is the length of their strokes. Make sure they are extending fully with their pulling arm and setting up a strong high elbow catch with each stroke. While this drill can be frustrating to perfect, working through it with patience will increase your swimmers awareness of nearly every aspect of their freestyle. Happy swimming!

All swimming and dryland training and instruction should be performed under the supervision of a qualified coach or instructor, and in circumstances that ensure the safety of participants.

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