Author: Robert Hunt

Aquatics Instructor, Seattle Athletic Club Downtown

Importance of Shoulder Roll

Swimming ability at the SAC is at quite a reasonable standard however with a few minor adjustments and basic tips you can improve your technique, endurance and timing drastically.

Today I will focus upon freestyle technique and how with a simple change you can improve not only your technique but also your personal well-being while swimming. One of the main problems when people swim this stroke is their body position and how they swim constantly on their front. This is an extremely static position and can cause excessive stress upon certain parts of your body.

A huge help would be to start or at least try swimming freestyle with a side – front – side rotation, or a body roll. This creates a shoulder roll movement which is extremely important for a variety of reasons:

1)      Less strain= as your shoulders have more movement and are not subject to all the strain from the arm pull, not only will your stroke feel looser but your body will after your swim. This will also help avoid nasty shoulder pain and poor posture.

2)      Larger pulls with less effort = as your body will stretch further automatically, you consequently have a larger reach but haven’t used any extra energy.

3)      Your body is more streamline = a more streamline body position is always desirable in swimming and by swimming on your side for half of the swim will result in not only a quicker swim but also a more efficient swim.

So how can you achieve all of this?

Drill -Kick Change

With your body you are going to roll side to side with each stroke

Start off on your side with your lower arm raised above your head, head resting on this arm and your upper arm down by your side (arms in a 6 o clock position)

You will then kick 12 times and then complete your arm pull by doing a normal stroke lifting the upper arm up and over. This is where you will roll to the other side now facing the opposite side of the pool, arms now switched along with the body

Repeat the 12 kicks and complete 40 yds (2 lengths or 1 lap) of this changing each 12 kicks

Now reduce the kicks to 10 kicks for 40yds, then 8 kicks for 40 yds, 6 kicks for 40yds and finally 4 kicks for 40yds. This is a 200 yd swim (10 lengths or 5 laps)

When you get down to 4 kicks the stroke will almost be at full stroke again however you will have a constant body roll with that stroke.

It’s relatively simple to practice this drill however it is hard to incorporate new techniques into your everyday stroke so thinking about this stroke while swimming is also very important.

Full stroke

You want to be switching the body with each stroke, giving you an extended reach, shoulder roll and a more streamlined body position,  however you need to keep you head still looking downwards while the body is rotating, until you need a breath.

Thanks for reading and hope this helps your techniques. I am often round the pool or in the pool so if you have any questions about this or anything else to do with swimming don’t hesitate to ask.