Is your swimming up to speed? Find out how to swim like a pro as the 2nd of our myth busting blogs tackles the S shaped pull.
Today I went off to enjoy my regular swim at the local pool and quickly clocked a second common swimming myth that has been passed down by swimmers and even some teachers over the decades. The dreaded ‘S-shaped Pull’!
Myth #2 Frontcrawl pull should be an S shape
It all started in the 1970s when ex-Olympian and US coach JE Counsilman, an innovator in the sport conceived the ‘S-pull’. The technique is typically characterised by a thumb first entry at the front of their stroke, sweeping outwards, back in and then finally sweeping out again by the thigh and was thought to be the optimum path for the hand to follow in front crawl to produce propulsion.
I have to admit I was slightly mesmerised whilst watching this strange ineffectual technique and wondering why it was still in use and more shockingly, why it was still being taught! You may well have heard of this technique and even be trying to follow it yourself. If so, the main issue here is that the effectiveness of the S-shaped pull was disproved in the 1980s as it was only based on limited analysis of front crawl technique. It’s fundamentally flawed because it didn’t take account the roll of the body when swimming the stroke. So unless you have the physique of Sponge Bob Square Pants this technique and thinking are totally defunct. Not only can it lead to other technique errors developing but can increase the chances of shoulder injury too. So if you feel like you’re putting in a lot of effort into your front crawl pull and not getting very far it’s probably down to incorrect technique.
These days all great swimmers enter with a flat, relaxed hand, catch and pull the water straight back behind them as they rotate. It’s faster and has a much reduced risk of shoulder injury. I enjoy watching the swims of top swimmers like Mark Foster or Michael Phelps on youtube to see how they do it… purely for technique purposes of course!
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