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Old 06-27-2018
CoachStuartMcDougal's Avatar
CoachStuartMcDougal CoachStuartMcDougal is offline
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 1,353

Hi Danny,

I've coached a lot of swimmers just like what you are describing. What may seem very counter-intuitive to fixing the dropped elbow on the low side is actually work first on the high side release, path forward, entry and forward extension. Any imbalance created with the high side arm, lifting early over hip, tense shoulder/arm, entering flat, etc will trigger the low side arm to pull with the hand (dropping elbow) to correct the imbalance. Any amount of "shaping" the low side arm will be lost due to imbalance created by high side (recovery) arm doing the wrong thing.

A tool that will help you is using the Finis Forearm Fulcums. This keeps the hand, wrist, elbow in line, any pulling with the hand, the fulcrum falls off. Also, any imbalance patterns with the recovery arm, lifting early, bending wrist - the fulcrum falls off. This will give you the awareness of the hand taking over whether on low or high side arms. Closed hands also works well for this problem too, but when a fulcrum falls off the arm - awareness is immediate.

Re: Imitating Shelly (Taylor or Ripple) vs Terry. You will find your own path and journey and there will be similarities swimmer to swimmer.

Shelly Taylor is 5'4" 75 strokes per minute, with above average aquatic profile - she can easily float horizontal without moving or adjusting arms and legs. Terry is 6'1", 55 strokes per minute, with a very low aquatic profile (like most of us guys). Hips sink quick and requires specific positions with arms and legs to maintain a balanced profile. Shelly and Terry are two very different vessels and profiles, so it's not a binary choice of one over the other.

Shelly T's high profile is both blessing and a curse. High profile, a blessing, any errors in stroke don't cause the hips to sink - relatively easy to maintain horizontal balance naturally. The curse, very difficult to rotate, all shoulder adaptation from (shoulder) tension, pausing at hip and lifting arm out of water low from shoulder, extending high side arm flat entering almost elbow first due to rotating body pulling on low side arm early. These adaptive movement patterns don't cause her hips to sink due to her high profile, but cause the back to arch and go "core soft".

Terry's low profile is both curse and blessing. Low profile, any errors in stroke, hips drop, drag increases exponentially. Blessing in that it's easy to rotate and get high side arm out of the water, soft/light shoulder. Keeping the arm weight and momentum turning in front of head (lungs) keeps the hips high. This too is a blessing since the core is completely engaged throughout the stroke cycle, shoulders/arms, hips/legs limber and fluid - core tone and engaged.

If I swam like Shelly T, shoulder driven, stiff legs - my hips would immediately drop 6 to 8", possibly more. Even though I'm shorter than Terry, my aquatic profile is even deeper, hips drop fast with any imbalance or stroke error; so I swim hip/core driven, very front quadrant to keep hips at surface maintaining streamline.

There are a lot of factors and you will find what works for you personally. But I always coach swimmers core engage/driven, soft and fluid shoulders/arms, fluid hips and legs whether sprinter or mid to long distance, short or tall, high or low aquatic profiles. The main difference is tempo or turnover rate that works best for them given their height (wingspan), skill and distance they're swimming.

Anyway - I suggest correcting the high side arm to fix the low side dropping elbow, avoid pulling on the hand. Use the finish forearm fulcrum to build awareness

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