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PADDLE TO PERFECTION

Fiona Ford explains how to fine tune your catch using paddles

As a coach, one of the most common issues I see when analysing swim videos is a tendency for swimmers to press down or introduce lateral movement with the hand, instead of catching the water efficiently. This flaw seriously harms the pull phase and forward propulsion. Pressing down instead of back causes lift at the front of the stroke and often compounds existing drag issues from the hips and legs while lateral hand movements can induce ‘snaking’ and increase drag.

The judicious use of paddles can help both the swimmer and coach identify and correct these technique flaws. Note that we are not talking about using paddle work for building strength and power. Instead, the use of paddles should be specific and targeted to the swimmer’s stroke technique requirements. If the catch and pull mechanics are optimal then functional training of the back and lats will be achieved alongside refining technique. However, if the hand is too high in the catch or the stroke is too long due to pausing and gliding or over-reaching then there is a risk of shoulder injury using paddles. Paddles may also encourage ‘pressing’ if the catch mechanics are misunderstood and this will feel like a ‘good catch’ to a swimmer with poor feel for the water.

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About Outdoor Swimmer

There is wild swimming and there is really wild swimming. This issue we bring you some pretty extreme swimming from the Arctic Circle. It is thrilling stuff, but if you like your thrills a little more genteel then check out our feature on swimming walks in Devon. Elsewhere in the mag we are feeling pretty zen: breathe deeply and read our features on yoga for open water swimmers and the benefits of mindful swimming. Not all of us are lucky enough to live near the open water. For many, me included, our regular dose of outdoor swimming is from our local lido. We look at the lido revival that is taking place around the country. As well as more event reviews and event listings than ever before we also have tips on better backstroke from Terry Laughlin, how to train with paddles from Fiona Ford and Ed Williams teaches you how to bounce back from failure. Plus, gear reviews, nutrition and loads more!
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