Swimming drills — front crawl “slap”?!

Whilst I was getting my breath back after finishing my session today I was reading through the session written up on a white board for the triathlon training session immediately afterwards. Not only did it include lengths of pointless “catch up” drill, but also a new one on me, apparently called a “slap” drill.

I overheard the coach explaining to one of the swimmers that the idea was to slap the water with one’s hand at the entry position as either the feeling or the noise of the slap would help identify when the arm was properly extended.

Now I’m at a bit of a loss as to how one one is supposed to hear a slap on the water when in the pool with dozens of other swimmers, and to feel it surely means the arm has to be raised into a completely inappropriate position for the arm recovery. In fact the entire process means the arm and perhaps even the body has to be in a completely inappropriate position for the arm recovery which means that whatever is learnt from this drill, if anything, is not useful in terms of performing front crawl well. I don’t even know how I could manage such a drill given that during the recovery my hand is only just above the surface of the water and my body is rotating longitudinally at the same time. I’m not certainly going to try it, but I think it would completely unbalance my stroke. I also feel sure that those who do manage to perform it will not find that it has any influence on their usual hand entry position either. I know one Iron Man competitor whose right hand slaps the water on every single recovery, to the point where I can tell he is in the pool when it’s fairly empty, even from the changing room. His arm is never at full extension at that point and it has never appeared to prompt him to change his stroke.

So, I’m calling this one out as another useless drill.

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