On one of my recent swims the water was a bit choppier than usual. Spontaneously, I started swimming with straight arm recovery. The stopwatch showed faster times, so I decided to experiment a bit.
I’ve found some info about it on the net. The most of you are probably familiar with the technique of Janet Evans. She had straight arm recovery, high turnover and relatively weak kick. Most of the people attributed this to her small body frame (167 cm). Evans also had excellent hip rotation, great catch and undulating body movement. In early 1990-ies there were a couple of Chinese sprinters that won Olympic gold by swimming with straight arm recovery. Their technique went unnoticed because of the doping allegations. The next great swimmer with this kind of arm recovery was Michael Klim. He rose to the top at the World Championship in Perth in the year 1998. Paul Bergen, the coach of Inge De Bruijn, saw that with increased kick Klim also increased his arm turnover which was uncommon among other swimmers. That got his attention and he decided to change the stroke of his entire team. As a result of that Inge got 3 gold medals at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sidney. Inge also noticed that her butterfly improved quite a bit.
There’s obviously more ways to swim fast. Straight arm recovery is better in the choppy water and swim legs of the triathlon are usually held in open water environment which can get very choppy. Also, wetsuits limit the range of motion a bit so the most swimmers adopt straight arm recovery when wearing one. That’s why I decided to experiment a bit. Maybe I’m more suited to this kind of swimming. So far I’ve had a few good swims but also a few really slow ones. All of my swims were in open water lately and the speed there is influenced by too many factors. I’ll have to wait to get to the pool for more decent analysis.