7/1/05 FREESTYLE - Clean Catch
Text and Photo/Video by Glenn Mills
Demonstrated by Scott Tucker

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Sprint freestyle is a very aggressive type of swimming. Thereís usually a LOT of thrash-ing and splashing, and many young swimmers find that the harder they try, the slower they go. Much of the time, this is due to simply trying TOO hard.

If you initiate your pull TOO quickly when youíre sprinting, you may make a couple of simple mistakes. First, you may shorten your stroke to the point where youíre not taking advantage of your full range of motion. Second, by attacking too soon, you may pull more air than water. While very few sprinters donít bring some bubbles into play, if you find it hard to see where youíre going because of the air bubbles in front of you, you MAY be trying a bit too hard.

Making sure that you have a good connection to clean water prior to initiating your pull is a simple thing to accomplish. Reaching your hand forward instead of down once itís entered into the water, even for just a moment, will allow you to release just about all the bubbles youíll bring into the water with you.

As you watch Scott Tucker (1996 and 2000 Olympian, 100 freestyle) swimming fast, youíll see that he reaches just a bit forward on each stroke and drops all his bubbles. While the bubbles are not the biggest thing to worry about, the LACK of bubbles on his hands show us heís reached forward enough to let the bubbles drop off and to get a clean catch with his hand.

This split second of reach in his stroke, even at top speed, allows Scott to clear his hand of anything other than water. He rides his hand forward JUST a bit, but itís enough to give him the connection he needs to add tons of power to the pull, and shoot through the water.

Glenn Mills is Swimming World Magazineís technical advisor. Check out his website at

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