A simple way to improve your arm recovery in the swim

The best way to learn most skills is to simplify them, which is what Andrew Sheaff has done here with arm recoveries to make you a more efficient swimmer

Male swimmer swimming underwater in a pool

A lot of triathletes struggle with their arm recoveries. It’s difficult to recover the arms smoothly over the surface without effort, all while keeping your body line tight.

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If the arms are swinging side to side, the body is going to do the same. Just as importantly, if the arms aren’t recovering effectively, it’s going to be more difficult to execute strong arm pulls as the arms will be out of position. Not good!

For a variety of reasons, improving the arm pull is difficult. It’s an odd movement, you’re in an unstable environment, and there are a lot of other skills that you’re probably working on as well!

I’ve found that the best way to learn most skills is to simplify the skill rather than isolating it. That’s exactly what we’re going to do here. We’re going to perform a simplified version of the arm recoveries, then work to transition into regular freestyle.

Go under the water

To help learn to recover the arms straight forward, start recovering them under the water. It’s going to make the action much simpler, because you don’t have to lift them out and over the water.

It will allow you to focus on making the recoveries very straight and very direct. That will help you keep your body in alignment, rather than wiggling side to side.

Just as importantly, it will allow you to focus on pulling straight back. As mentioned above, when the arms aren’t recovered in a direct manner, it’s more likely that they’ll be out of position to pull effectively.

Simply alternate between repetitions of underwater recovery with repetitions of regular freestyle. The goal should be to make the recoveries with the regular freestyle feel as seamless as the underwater recovery.

Go under and over the water

Of course, while swimming with your arms underwater might make it easier to recover your arms, you can’t do it forever as it’s going to be a lot slower.

If you’re able to use the underwater recovery drill and immediately fix your arm recoveries while swimming regular freestyle, that’s awesome. However, others might struggle to make that leap.

If that’s you, try this:

You’ll swim with one arm recovering over the water and one arm recovering under the water. Instead of having to worry about two arms recovering over the water, you just have to manage one.

It will help keep it simple, while still allowing you to make progress. You can use your arm that’s under the water as a reminder for how to move the arm straight forward, and then try to make it happen with the arm recovering over the water.

Once you improve your skill on both sides, it should be a lot easier to make it happen with regular freestyle.

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Top image credit: Getty Images