Sep 052012

Want to know what Early Vertical Forearm looks like? Below is a video from SwimAffect that shows a point by point breakdown of front quadrant freestyle with a high elbow. As you watch the video, take note of not just the front part of the stroke where they demonstrate early vertical forearm, but also look at the back half of the stroke.

Something I learned from Coach Stu Kahn (Davis Aquatic Masters) at the 2012 USMS High Performance Camp in Greensboro, NC last week was to consider a Late Vertical Forearm and an Even Later Vertical Palm.

A Late Vertical Forearm is the back half of your freestyle pull where you are at 90 degrees finishing the Early Vertical Forearm. It is the second fastest spot in your freestyle stroke! To find speed, you need to accelerate your hand all the way through the back half of the pull while maintaining a position with your palm pushing water back (but not up). Your opposite arm is out in front at the point you begin your Late Vertical Forearm.

The Even Later Vertical Palm – ELVP – is key to that back half of your stroke. Coach Stu used imagery as a way to guide your stroke. Picture yourself grabbing on to a block of ice in the front where you make your initial catch. Initially you pull the ice until you go from EVF to LVF at that 90-degree mark. From that point you are then pushing the ice block back, hence the need for the palm pushing back all the way to your hip.

Coach Stu’s tip is to “close your armpit” as you transition from EVF to LVF (feel like you are popping a small balloon in your armpit). Your wrist should be flexed when you get down to your waist, not pushing up to the sky. Hold the water all the way back.┬áSome of the world’s greatest freestylers swim in this fashion: Ryk Needling, Michael Klimt, Inge de Bruijn, Federica Pelligrini, Ian Thorpe, Dana Vollmer, Missy Franklin, and Katie Ledecky to name a few. While they may vary in the front end of their stroke, it is in the back end of their stroke that they share a common element of a palm push. Even the great Cal sprinter Nathan Adrian doesn’t really have an EVF (he has a straight arm style), but does have a very strong LVF and ELVP. Remember Janet Evans? She held on to the water on the back half of her stroke and that is what made her incredibly efficient even with an otherwise un-textbook windmill straight arm stroke and no early vertical forearm.

An easy way to wrap up here is to remember to:

  1. catch the water sooner
  2. hold on to it longer
  3. accelerate your hands through the pull / push of the ice block