Originally Posted by Richardsk
The so-called deep catch that this chap appears to be talking about is more or less exactly what TI recommends. I don't think anyone at a high level tries to do an S-pull any more, and as far as I understand it the S-path observed by Counsilman is now thought to be a consequence of body roll and not something one should consciously try to achieve. However, I don't think anyone at a high level actually pulls straight back, although that may be what they are trying to achieve. I always observe the arm bending at the elbow and the hand passing under the body before it exits, which suggests a curved path viewed from underneath as in Counsilman's experiments. Again, perhaps what we see on video is partly due to body roll. For us ordinary mortals, spearing straight to the catch and then forgetting about the arm is doubtless the best policy.
Agree with the comments posted. I'd add that Counsilman's observation of the S-Curve is not what was taught to every kid growing up in the late 60's and on till probably early 2000's. He observed a slight insweep of the hand at the catch and straight pull back and a slight outsweep at the end of the pull as the hand exited the water. All due to body role as Richard notes. He then observed that it appeared to be in the shape of an elongated S. Of course communication being what it is, coaches only heard S-shape pull and started teaching the over exaggerated S to swimmers. I agree that I haven't seen (doesn't mean there aren't any out there) any elite swimmers in many years that swim with the S pattern any longer. A lot of different recovery methods but most all have the straight deep initiation of the catch and activate the large lat's for strength during the pull. As noted by Coach Suzanne the S (skulling) pull that sweeps in under the body deflects a lot of power and propulsive forces thus making it easier to pull your arms back and you can pull at a high speed leaving you with the impression of swimming fast. In addition you are using all the small muscle groups (triceps, deltoids, some minor lat action) that will tire a lot faster than the back muscles.
Further, I haven't seen any coach I've been around talk about the S shape pull since 1996 that I can remember.