WEST swim clinic lesson 1- The shape of the palm & under water stretch depth.
Point number 1 that we worked on is the shape of your palm in and above water.
We already established that coordinately we cannot keep an open, relaxed palm above water to reduce stress from our shoulders, and then close our fingers when our hand gets into the water. It just can’t be done, and so we always swim with our fingers open and our palms totally relaxed.
In addition, we learned that we have several degrees of palm relaxation depending on our natural flexibility. The more flexible we are – the more we can close our fingers and straighten our palms. If we are not so flexible of suffer from pain in our neck and shoulders, we will aim towards a more flexible, rounded palm.
An important comment: The more relaxed we are, according to our body type, the easier it is for us to float, and hence to move more swiftly through the water without stopping.
Point number 2 is the depth in which we stretch our hand in the water, and it is one of the most important thing in the WEST swimming technique, and for a very clear reason – the wrong stretch-depth can cause sinking of the body, stress to the shoulders, a halt while swimming, arching in the lower back and ultimately a slower progress in the water.
An important comment: Olympic swimmers can stretch their arms right at the water line. Why? Because they are capable! Why can’t we? Because we don’t work on our flexibility an hour and a half a day or have 20 workouts a week. But we can make our move, the slide, more efficient, by optimizing the depth of our stretch, and hence to swim as fast as out body type allows.
Other swimming techniques promote a 45 degree stretch.
Why is this only partly correct? Because our goal in the WEST technique is to lengthen the lower back, make our move through the water more efficient and bring our body close to its limit.
A 45 degree stretch can make us miss some of the paddling that can make us swim faster.
Working on the correct stretch-depth lengthens the back muscles which our also our center of balance and energy.
In conclusion: Don’t move to the next step of breathing, elbow position or paddling until you’re sure you have your correct stretch-depth in accordance with your natural flexibility and the palm shape that will allow you to float better, protect your lower back, shoulders and neck, and also will allow you to move faster through the water.
It is recommended to watch the video of Ori Sela explaining those important points and summarizing this first lesson in the WEST swimming technique.
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Why swim with open fingers.