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What Is The Perfect Freestyle Swimming Technique? | Learn From Olympic Silver Medallist Jazz Carlin

– Is there such a thing as
the perfect swimming stroke? Well, even the fastest swimmers in the world still preform regular drills and have coaching analysis. So that probably proves
that it’s going to be at least one aspect of your
stroke you can still work on. And we’re always bringing
you tips here from GTN on how to improve your stroke. And are first to admit that
we are far from perfect. So with that in mind, I’m going to be getting
the help of a swimmer who’s proven she’s one
of the best in the world. I’m going to speak to Jazz Carlin, the Olympic Silver Medalist from the 400 and 800 meter freestyle
at the Rio Olympic Games. (upbeat jazz music) (techno music) – Watch out! Thanks
for coming along today. I know you’ve just got off a flight, so massively grateful. I want to address the perfect stroke, and you’ve obviously
got pretty close to that with two Olympic medals, but how close to perfect
did you actually get with your stroke after
years of working on it? – I think is a bit of a funny one really. As a youngster, I remember just everyone was always trying to change my stroke. They were saying, “You need
to have a six beat leg kick, “you need to have a longer stroke.” I typically had quite a high stroke rate and they would always try and
take me as a longer stroke. Higher elbow, always
give me some new pointers and when I’d go away on training camps, all the different coaches
have always been saying, “You need to change this,
you need to change that.” And it was certainly along the
years where I actually forged my own stroke that worked best for me. I was never going to swim as
fast if I swam a certain way, ‘that perfect stroke’, if you call it. And so I had to find out
what worked best for me and I had a two beat cross over leg kick. I didn’t have the perfect high
elbow and had little things that I had to work on. So I don’t think there’s
anything as a perfect stroke and I think it’s really
about finding what works for you individually. (bass thumping music) – And there were the latter
stage of your career, when you were at the peak, just before winning those Olympic medals. What aspect of your stroke were the coaches focusing on then? – I think it’s definitely
not something you should take for granted even when you
get to the highest level. There’s always little
things in your stroke that you can make such big difference. So for me, I always used
to struggle a little bit, especially my right arm, slipping over the center
line in the underwater phase of the stroke. So that was always something that I had to work on quite a lot, and work on my stability
outside of the pool as well. And also, mainly just about, stretching as well outside of the pool to make sure I had the
length outside of the pool. So then when I got in the pool, my stroke could still
be quite a bit longer. I think when you do more
strokes and more strokes, obviously it can take it out of you. So, just trying to get that
little bit extra length from the stroke as well
doing a lot more stretching. – And how did you get the feedback, how did you actually
analyze your own stroke? What did you do with the coaches for that? – We’re very lucky at
the Bath National Center. We have a great camera system,
so there’s nowhere to hide. It’s like Big Brother, you have no where to hide
even when you’re tired. So they would always
have the camera system on and we’d have weekly check-ins. So we’d go through it with
our coach, we’d replay it, pause it, and they’d be going
through every little tiny bit of the stroke just to
make sure that we were at our best on race day. – And what drills did you end
up having to do the most of that would help your sort of
difficulties with your stroke? – I think for me, I always brought it back to basics. Things like body rotation, kick with your arms by your
side and just getting used to linking the core position. A lot of sculling actually. I guess, for me, that hand slip under
water is quite good to get in the sculling positions
and really strengthen being in those body positions. – And what you do, just go a little front, middle, and back or just front, or what position do you do scull in? – For me it was mainly front and middle, but I guess I’d always try
and mix it up and trying to get balanced in the stroke as well. – And were there any other drills? – Yeah, things like single arm drill, just being able to focus on one stroke. I call it one-six-one, one stroke, six kicks, one stroke, six kicks. Again, working on the balance
and really making sure you keep that stroke length as well. (bass thumping music) – So Jazz, obviously your
stroke was still pretty perfect, and I want to pick your
brains how on breaking down each aspect of the stroke, and any points that people
might be focused on. So if we start at the very
front with hand entry, what are the main key points there? – I think, for me, it was always about getting
a nice smooth hand entry. And also it’s about setting
yourself up for the rest of your stroke. So when you’re entering, really making sure that
we’re getting the most kind of length out of our stroke. Keeping it nice and smooth, fingers kind of pointing down. So I think that would
mainly be it for hand entry. – And then, the sort of next, or the most important part, I guess, is the catch. Any tips for the catch? – Yeah, I think for me, doing the little drills, it’s about getting your
body in that position. And I see a lot of people
that kind of start their catch a lot later in the stroke. So what I think, try and
get in the early catch, getting the nice elbow under water, and really pushing the water. I always kind of use it like
you’ve got a ball in your hand, and you’re pushing it all the way through, instead of just starting halfway. We want to make sure
you get that full catch. – And the real key, and it’s something you’ve
obviously mastered, for the whole pool, both the
mid phase and the back phase, keeping the elbow high. Any tips on how to do
that ’cause (mumbles)? – (laughs) Yeah. I think, for me, it’s always
about getting that long stroke. You want to make the most of the stroke, so finishing kind of past your hips, really making sure you
using that last pull through of the stroke. And then I think, for me, it’s about having that relax
recovery over the water, whether it’s the elbow coming out first. Some people like straight
arm stroke which is actually really effective as well. So I think making sure
that your arm is relaxed on the recovery phase. – And any drills to help
with any of those aspects and strokes that you’ve just talked about, that you like or you’d think
of as really good drills? – Yeah, I think,
obviously, again sculling. I think it’s so important and a lot of people probably think, “Oh no, not sculling.” But it can be great for the strength of your collar shoulders, forearms, and really getting yourself
in those catch positions. And by isolating single arm, you can actually get a feel
of maybe one arm’s weaker than the other, and work
on things like that. I like to do a lot of balancing drills, so right arm, right paddle and left fin– – [Blonde Woman] No way.
– [Jazz] And then once and then lift fin. Sorry.
(blonde woman laughs) Left paddle, right fin, I’m getting mixed up now. (laughs) Basically just to balance
it out and I guess you used to swimming maybe with
one arm a bit more powerful, but really is great for balancing. – It’s cool, I like,
that was a bit different. And you’ve now obviously
retired and you’re doing a bit of work with some less
experienced swimmers. What are the key things that
you see in people learning to improve their strokes? What are the key errors, I suppose? – I think, for me, I’m working now a lot
with some triathletes, some open water swimmers
and when I work with them and I have a look at what
training they’ve done, a lot of the time I see
them training mainly just at one pace, so I kind of hit
a very bit to threshold pace and not really try out any
other speed work or race pace, really fast work. So, for me, I try and
break it down and say, “What pace do we want to race at?” And we want to try and hit that pace, we want to hit all the zones, we call it. Including the speed work, ’cause that will all help your race. So I think just trying to
mix up your training zones and work on it the aspect. And technically, I think, I see a lot of floppy wrists underwater. We really just want to
make sure that the kind of wrists is strong and you’re
really getting a firm grip of the water, in the underwater phase. – [Blonde Woman] What sort of
pointers do you get people for to stop the floppy wrists? How do you kind of learn that one? – I like paddles a lot and
some people wear lot of paddles around the wrist and the fingers. I like it just around the fingers because you actually get used to having to put the pressure through
the upper part of your hand, whereas if you got it around your wrist, the paddle would just stay with it, whereas if you lose your
wrist, the paddle comes apart. Makes sense? (laughs) – No, that makes perfect sense. We’ve actually talked about that before. – So, I think that’s probably
technically one of the things I see underwater that
people struggle with. – Great, well Jazz, thank
you so much for your time and your expertise. And I know last year we
spotted you doing a triathlon. – Yeah. – Are we going to see you
do any more this year? – Hopefully, I haven’t
got one in a diary yet, but I’d like to do another. (laughs) – Oh okay, well guys keep
your eyes peeled on that one. Thanks again, hopefully you’ve enjoyed it. Give us a thumbs up, like if you have, and hit the globe to subscribe. And if you want to see a
video of five swim-tips from Josh Amberger, you can
find that one just down here. – And if you’re looking
for swimming mistakes that you don’t know what
you’re doing, look here.

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