Front Quadrant Swimming
How do athletes swim balanced in the water? Some might think that balanced swimming means the right arm enters the water as the left arm exits: but very few swim like that. Front quadrant swimming results in one arm entering the water as the other arm passes through the mid-phase of the stroke. As the entering arm extends forward, the pulling arm completes the second half of the pull phase. Then as the entering arm begins to move backward executing the pull, the other arm exits the water.
What Does Front Quadrant Swimming Mean?
Front quadrant swimming means keeping at least one, if not both hands in front of the head.
This front quadrant swimming happens because the swimming stroke pull phase (when the hand is in the water) takes longer to execute than the recovery phase (when the hand moves through the air). Also, the swimmer’s hand moves more slowly through the water for the first half of the pull and more quickly the second half. This is sometimes referred to as “hand acceleration”.
Novice swimmers can try different drills to achieve this balance, or “front quadrant swimming”. “Catch-up” is a drill which can help a swimmer learn to feel this rhythm. One hand enters the water, extends, and then waits for the other arm to execute the pull. The drawback to this drill is that while one hand “waits” for the others, there is no arm motion propelling the swimmer and without a strong kick, the swimmer’s speed will decelerate.
Another way that swimmers can achieve better front quadrant swimming is to concentrate on increasing the speed of their pull as their hand moves through the water. This can be practiced swimming with one arm at a time for a length. Concentrate on extension of the hand as it enters the water before the pull begins. Once the arm/hand reaches the midpoint of the stroke, increase its speed as it extends through the finish in the water AND through the recovery phase.
This is important as it helps keep the stroke long and gives you support when you go to breathe because the lead arm is out in front of you. If your lead arm collapses down then your hands will pass behind your head and will offer you no support to breathe.
Take your time with learning this – as with any skill. The point is that drills are there to make you smoother, stronger, more efficient. Make sure you hit all those target points!
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