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How to Improve Freestyle Swimming In Five Easy Steps

How to Improve Your Freestyle Swimming
Karlyn Pipes, swim technique coach, and World Champion Masters Swimmer

We collaborated with Coach Karlyn Pipes to create an exciting online swim clinic –  How to Improve Freestyle Swimming In Five Easy Steps for swimmers, swim coaches, and triathletes to benefit from her highly effective method of teaching better swim techniques. The Faster Freestyle Swimming video series has had over 11,000,000 (eleven million) views to date!

Coach Karlyn teaches five focus points that make freestyle swimming simpler and more effective. The lessons in each video combine underwater video and demonstration on land using the Vasa Swim Ergometer swim bench to integrate each focus point. Swimmers who have adopted Karlyn’s techniques report improved stroke efficiency, increase ability to sustain power and endurance, and greater confidence in open-water swimming.

Are you interested in improving your freestyle swimming technique? Let’s take a more in-depth look into the first two videos of the five-part series.

Technique 1. Hand Placement: How To Properly Set Up The Stroke

This video describes achieving the perfect high elbow catch and early vertical forearm in your swimming stroke. A proper stroke setup is critical for swimmers to access more power from the primary muscles used in propulsion. Furthermore, learning to master the high elbow catch improves the stroke mechanics needed to produce greater force applied most efficiently.   Forming the forearm into a relatively straight “paddle blade” (fingertips to elbow) and “catching more water” with that paddle blade allows the swimmer to connect the powerful muscles of the back and the torso.

Lastly, flexibility and maintaining a neutral body position allow you to access more power and become a better swimmer. Watch the video below on how to set up the stroke properly:

Technique 2. Fingertip Orientation: High Elbow Catch

Part 2 demonstrates how the fingertips need to be oriented to gain the most power in the freestyle stroke. Coach Pipes explains how a swimmer’s power is reduced when the elbows are straightened or when the hands are pointed outward or inward. The most potentially dangerous position is when the hands get ahead of the elbow during the pulling phase.  That creates an internal rotation of the shoulder, which can be very damaging to the rotator cuff. Keep the fingers pointed straight forward as the arm moves into a high elbow catch phase of the stroke.

In this video, Karlyn demonstrates each arm position on and off the Vasa SwimErg. Watch the video below to learn how fingertip orientation will affect the high elbow catch.

Sign up here for the Faster Freestyle online swim clinic

Coach Karlyn Pipes of Kona, Hawaii, is an excellent and popular swim technique coach and a very accomplished Masters Swimmer.  Voted one of the top ten masters swimmers of all time, she has set over 200+ FINA Masters World records throughout her swimming career. Karlyn travels the world teaching swimmers and triathletes of every age and ability “how to swim faster with less effort”. She also hosts swim technique clinics and camps in beautiful Kona, Hawaii.

Additionally, Karlyn was inducted into the International Swimming Hall Of Fame in 2015 and published her book, The Do-Over. We are proud to be associated with Karlyn and we commend her on all that she has accomplished throughout her swimming & coaching career.

Above all, at Vasa, we are committed to producing excellent products and content that help you gain the strength, endurance, and confidence to achieve your athletic goals.