High elbow catch - how to know if I'm doing it right

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High elbow catch - how to know if I'm doing it right

Postby zed » Fri May 20, 2016 8:34 am

I've been working hard on my high elbow catch and am feeling much more efficient in the water. Not necessarily more powerful, but I'm definitely quicker. But I don't know if I'm doing the high elbow catch correctly. I try and keep an eye on my elbows, ensuring they are near the surface (as a guide) because they used to drop and I would do a very deep pull, but it's really hard to see what's going on. I've tried with a snorkel, but I still can't get a full appreciation of what's going on and I don't have access to a camera at the moment. Are there any things to look for that would indicate whether or not I'm achieving a high elbow?

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Re: High elbow catch - how to know if I'm doing it right

Postby gavinp » Sat May 21, 2016 6:10 pm

Hi Zed

I would say, if you can, get a video analysis done by one of the Swim Smooth coaches :D

If you don't have access to a Swim Smooth coach then do doggy paddle drill; look forward and make sure your arms are reaching forward, not down; perform skull #1 and #2, then pull through. Because you are looking forward you will be able to see if the elbow is kept high.
Really drive through with the hips as you reach forward to connect the rotation (through the hip_ and the pull through).

Hope this helps a little.

Have fun!
Swim Smooth accredited coach and
Northamptonshire based triathlon coach

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Re: High elbow catch - how to know if I'm doing it right

Postby Shenaram » Sun May 22, 2016 9:43 am


I am certainly not the one who can answer with expertise as I am neither a qualified coach, nor an advanced swimmer. With your permission, I would just propose my opinion about it.

Around my place. cameras are normally not allowed in swimming pools, therefore I face the same problem in watching myself.
As for your inquiry, my suggestion would be to maybe watch your arms underwater while swimming. High elbow should mean that the back of the hand is not visible from the swimmer's eyes. I think that only the side or the palm should be visible (in the front quadrant). Some swimmers have bend / crooked / wiggling wrists, which somehow invalidate this method. With some experience, it is easier to correct arm and hand positioning, it think, for instance by dedicating a few minutes at slow swim to this issue, then applying it to normal swimming. It may take more than a few sessions.

As for myself, I try to imagine resting my "armwristhand" (arm and wrist and hand altogether) on a vertical underwater pole, in front of me, and propulsing my body forward. When my armwristhand is not correctly positioned, I am advancing slowlier, or sideways, or my body rotating in an uncofortable manner. I feel the catch is better when there is substantial resistance on my armwristhand while going forward. Sometimes the catch is good by the body is not streamlined, leading to the somehow the same issues as with incorrect armwristhand positioning.

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