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Flipping the Cords Around

Updated: Sep 28, 2022

By: Alexis Keto, Staff Writer & Senior Coach Bolles School Sharks


We’ve been battling a quick catch & a quick recovery on Breaststroke for a few athletes. We were seeing a dropped elbow and difficulty hitting the “line” between strokes and quickly – so we played with pushing the recovery to get to the catch faster in the water. We’re still working on a name as this entire concept is still in development. I have posted a reel to the Streamline Teams account that demonstrates in the three pieces outlined below.


Two pieces of Pre-work we did before this – first we spent some time working on fast kick work and getting a little hip movement while concentrating on quick heels and sharp closure on the kick. Athletes put a snorkel on with hands in position 11 and spent a few 25s thinking on the kick. Second – we have been working on using traditional stretch cords with an open palm on a handle rather than gripping the handle or using a paddle. That helped when asking athletes to use a specific hand position and encourages that Early Vertical Forearm (EVF), plus it's more how hands should be positioned in the water anyway!


First – this requires two resist cords, although a fairly long set of standard stretch cords might work too. Athletes put their hands into each of the loops at the opposite end of the cord, focusing on keeping hands in a 90 degree position as they scoot back as far as possible into the lane – usually about halfway or so.


Second – perform three assists pulling both cords simultaneously (make sure they’re even). The first assist is smooth and steady and slow so the athlete can get used to the motion of someone literally pulling their hands through the water. The next two get a little faster each time, with the coach paying a lot of attention to how much tension the athletes are putting on the cords and staying ahead of their tempo. The goal is to pull hands into the perfect bodyline and force them to pull against that momentum to pull their body forward. A word of caution – the cords will snap back – I strongly recommend pants to avoid a bruise or five as the tempo & speed increases.


Finally – have athletes push off into 5-6 quick strokes without a pullout. They should be able to have the quick recovery and quick catch that’s been missing. Then, have them swim back to the wall emphasizing the high hip position and speed of catch with a slower tempo. Should look pretty nice and they should feel pretty good. I've also mixed in fly & free kick as they continue to explore the space of their breaststroke body position.


I’ve used it at meets before an IM or a breaststroke and it seems to work well to get athletes thinking about something quick before they race. It’s also a good one at the end of workout to refocus athletes and maybe combine with a few 50s of pace work. The drill/skill as a whole is still evolving, so I am looking forward to ways I can incorporate it into workout more in the future. Please let me know if you’ve got something fun you’ve incorporated it with or improvements you've made!


Coach Alexis has a passion for giving back to the sport and has working numerous LSC & National camps and clinics. Her 25 years of coaching experience includes Northwestern University, North Carolina State University, New Trier Aquatics, and Colorado Athletic Club. She has also held multiple roles within the USA Swimming organization and local LSCs and is currently the COO for Streamline Teams – and web-based networking and education platform for swim coaches. Coach Alexis has had athletes compete at all levels of the sport by focusing on an athlete-first philosophy, finding technique and training methods that suit each athlete, but are carefully integrated into the full team dynamic.

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