5/21/04 Fast Hands Make Fast Backstroke
Watch any fast backstroker, and it almost seems like they're ripping their hands out of the water. How do you get your hands to exit this quickly? After your final press in the downsweep, angle your thumb directly up to slice more quickly through the water. This thumb-up, slicing action, allows your hand to exit quickly with minimal resistance. A fast and clean hand exit allows for a fast and clean rotation of the body. It gives a snap to your rotation. This, in turn, leads to a deeper, cleaner catch on your next stroke.

Use Your Final Downsweep to Help Your Backstroke

Use your second downsweep, which occurs from the point at which your hand is at its highest point (as your hand passes your navel) through when your arm sweeps downward, finishing below the thigh. Rotate your hand quickly, palm down. Then initiate a quick snap down at the end of the sweep. This snap will also help you to finish your rotation to your other side with the final downward press. At the same moment that you complete the second downsweep, the recovering hand enters the water, preparing to start the next stroke.

Using this second downsweep properly can do two positive things for your stroke: First, the sweep will give your hips a final boost to help finish a full rotation. Second, this extra rotation will help your pulling arm get a deeper catch as you begin your stroke.

1- Point your toes at all times for maximum power.

2- Slice UP with the thumb, to let your hand exit quickly, and to allow faster rotation.

3- Press in at the back of your head, to help keep the hips up.

4- Reach directly above your shoulder to begin the next pull.