Efficient Freestyle from the Front
Here is how an efficient swimmer looks from the start of the catch to the end of the stroke:
Her elbow is never very far from the surface. She gets hold of the water very early in her stroke with her hand and her entire forearm. Looking at a video clip of an efficient swimmer head-on, frame by frame, you will see the hand and forearm perpendicular to the direction of travel in many, many frames. This means that the efficient swimmer is holding the water with that entire surface - from fingertips to elbow - while moving toward the camera, pulling her body over that spot in the water.
The above still shots are from the Go Swim Freestyle with Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen DVD, which is my favorite freestyle DVD for illustrating efficient freestyle technique
Other things to notice:
So how can you swim like this? Start by doing lots and lots of drills: Drill Index
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