Alexander Popov – Kayak Principle

Relaxation at Top Speed
This short documentary looks at Olympic gold medallist, Alexander Popov’s front crawl swimming technique, and the way he balances propulsion and  resistance to minimise drag and create fluid relaxed motion at top speed.

Gennadi Touretski, Popov’s coach: “The kayak principle is based on the theory of using two arms simultaneously to provide continuous propulsion.”

“Drills that encourage the Kayak principle include freestyle head up, with a dolphin kick.”

“Relaxation is the key for excellence, because if your skill is automatic you will be relaxed. Relaxation decreases the energy cost of locomotion.

“Performance is the only real measure of effective swimming and Speed through the water is a combination of rhythm, range and relaxation”

“Gennadi believes that the future of sprint swimming is in creating ways to take advantage of muscle elasticity and to redevelop the swimming stroke to enable the swimming body to move as a single unit, not as a number of independently moving parts.

In short technical efficiency becomes more important than increasing propulsive forces.”




Remember: High Elbow

Tim had a look at my stroke on Sunday. Apparently my left arm (or is it my right) swing out really wide on the recovery and I am over extending in the catch phase,  wasting a lot of energy and placing  unnecessary strain on my shoulder by  pulling through with a straight arm.

The wide stroke, obviously contributes to drag, which I need to avoid. Narrowing my profile, making my body streamline, as if trying to thread it through the eye of a needle is the way to go. So I need to practise.

My  main challenge at the moment is not over extending in the catch phase of the hand entry, but entering the water closer to my shoulder.

My stroke was much better about three years ago, but has deteriorated, possibly as a consequence of overtraining and fatigue. By over training I mean swimming excessively, often without adequate hydration, nutrition or rest. Also failing to stretch and do regular dry side exercises.

The advantage of using a high elbow catch is that it encourages better shoulder rotation, engagement of the lats and shallow pull. This keeps the body shallow, i.e. on the surface of the water as opposed to under the water and reduces drag.