Simply put, by maintaining a positive palm pitch with your hand underwater.
The best way to achieve this is to position your hand pointing backwards from the entry, through the catch pull and push phases (all underwater) with your palm facing and pointing backwards at a constant angle to the back of the pool.
This aids in pulling the water evenly back without slipping or changing the pitch of your hand. Think of Newton's 3rd law of motion. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Why is this so important?
If your hand points inwards, outward, laterally or medially then you’ll be pushing water in that direction and not backward. You'll lose the pressure on the water, and there will be a counteracting motion, e.g. legs swaying, body fishtailing or legs scissor kicking. Pointing your hand backwards in the stroke helps move you forwards.
Understanding how to develop a feel for the water and improve your catch
Have you ever swum upstream in a river and found it really hard work? When this happens your body is moving in the opposite direction to the water. You're trying to create a good purchase on the water by "reaching over a barrel" with your arm, but the water slips through the water too fast. Compare this to swimming with the current and how much faster you swim! You manage to hold onto much more water and push more behind you helping you travel further and faster!
So how can you swim faster?
Increasing the amount of water you can push behind you = improved Distance Per Stroke
By finding still water you maintain a greater purchase of it. This is achieved by rotating on a long axis with an early vertical forearm position. By keeping your hand pointing backwards in the stroke underwater without any deviation in pitch left or right, you'll effectively be finding still water as you rotate.
By having a slower catch and faster push phases
Maintaining a positive palm pitch hand position, using finger catch paddles really helps here
Want to swim faster? Book a swim consultation with our coach Nick.