Originally Posted by Copperbeech
Until recently when I would reach my arm forward past my head I would extend my arm so it went quite deep but then pulling it back, at some point the hand would need to come UP to the surface of the water. This should result in propulsion down rather than forward...right?
So instead I tried, still extending my arm as far as possible out past my head, but not nearly as deep and so when pulling back the palm is for more of the time perpendicular to the bottom of the pool and so when pushing water out of the way propulsion should be more directed forward...which is what one wants.
Does this make sense? IS this a good change?
Your elbow should be bending as you begin your catch, as though you were reaching over the hood of a Volkswagen beetle toward the headlight. Also, instead of thinking about pushing water back, I'd suggest thinking about anchoring your arm in the water and pushing your body past it.
If you do this, you should feel that your hand and forearm are remaining closer to your body when you are stroking. You are correct that your stroking arm won't have to travel as far upward to get to the surface if you do this.
And there is also the advantage that you will be holding onto water that is closer to your body and has picked up some forward momentum from your body's motion through the water. It's the same basic principle that causes most rockets carrying satellites into orbit to be launched toward the east rather than in some other direction: Since Earth's surface is rotating from west to east, the rocket's engine doesn't have to do quite as much work accelerating it to orbital speed.