Tips for Lengthening a Swimmer’s Crawl Stroke

A board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. David Santos has practiced in his field for two decades. Before initiating his career as a plastic surgeon, Dr. David Santos attended the University of California, Berkeley, as an undergraduate, during which time he captained the school’s two-time NCAA Division 1 championship swim team, secured nine all-American honors, and placed fifth in the 400 meter individual medley at the 1980 Olympic Trials.

In the front crawl, a swimmer needs a long and smooth stroke. This begins with the body as a whole remaining parallel to the floor of the pool. The head should be tilted forward at approximately 45 degrees so that the average hairline rests at the surface of the water. The athlete should avoid lifting the head any further, lest the face create resistance.

The upper back muscles and neck should relax, and the arm should extend its full length forward with every stroke. The swimmer can enhance this effect by reaching forward with the shoulder approximately 6 inches, as though he or she were trying to touch something just out of reach. Rolling and lengthening forward with the hips also helps the swimmer to pivot the body and achieve a greater reach, provided that the trunk remains in alignment.


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