Wetsuit Swimming Technique – Going full throttle in a full wetsuit

“You can’t change the wind but you can adjust your sails”

Swimming in a long sleeve wetsuit is better than it used to be. The material is lighter and more flexible yet it is still restrictive and confining. How do you adapt your stroke to the constriction? Use the following techniques: the Birmingham Feather, High Velocity Wind Recovery and the 45 Degree Forearm Shoot.

Birmingham Feather

The Birmingham Feather (think rowing) is named after a brilliant Australian coach who taught his swimmers with shoulder problems to feather on the recovery. Paul Birmingham used the visual of a rowing oar on the recovery. Feather your arm so it is parallel to the water just as a flat blade of a paddle would be. No high elbows here. Keep your hands out wider on the recovery. The high elbow on the recovery causes tightness in the shoulders and trapezius and deltoid muscles while wearing a wetsuit. Arms come wide and around.

High Velocity Wind Recovery

The High Velocity Wind Recovery is a technique to keep your recovery low on windy days. Stay connected, left hand to right Hand. Right hand to left hand on the surface of the water. Pretend your arms are the cranks, the hands your pedals and your heart the bottom bracket. But on the recovery rather than the high elbow lift, plane out your forearm. Bring your hand forward keeping your hand and elbow level.

45 Degree Forearm Shoot

The 45 Degree Forearm Shoot. Think of being late and hurrying your catch. Reach forward and down at 45 degrees. Do not lock your elbows. Keep the momentum. Hand reaches forward and down. Use all the surface of the forearm. There is more surface area there than your hand.

Wetsuit Swimming Technique Drills

Birmingham Feather Drill

Take up the whole lane. Try to glaze over the lane ropes on either side of you on the recovery. Be wide.

High Velocity Wind Recovery Drill

Lower your sails. Use the long anchoring drill (The opposite of the Catch Up Drill) While your front hand enters and anchors down and back hand finishes and you are stretched through the chest. Keep the wrist and elbow parallel while the hand comes forward. Be parallel. Reach forward.

45 Degree Forearm Shoot Drill

Be late to finish each side of your stroke. Be in a hurry to shoot the forearm at a 45 degree angle fast to set your catch. This is excellent to do in rough seas. On dry land throw a rock 6 inches in front of you. Left hand throws to right hand. The right hand throws to left hand. The rock is falling so it makes your hand lower than your elbow. Arm paddles will also help create awareness.

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