Timing the Finish in Serape Swimming

Reader Ian P. asks,

Swim Speed Secrets enlightened me about the underwater pull. I’m a 54-year old masters swimmer and after just 4 months, Swim Speed Secrets took my 100m time from 67s to 61s.

In Swim Speed Workouts you refer in the finish phase of the stroke, “The hand gives a final flick off the wall of vortices before lifting over the water to recover. This is timed with a dynamic hip drive on the same side.”

My question is this: which direction is the hip drive? Does the hip drive upward or forward? And when: before or after EVF (the catch)?

Sheila replies,

Great question! The hip that is on the side of the arm that has just finished the stroke drives upward. It does not drive upward simply for the sake of getting out of the way or reducing resistance, but rather it is part of the core movement that is tied to the other side of the body.

Your question is great because I can tell you’re thinking of that other side of the body which is obviously connected to the finishing side of the body. So yes, the extending arm is loading tension through extension just before EVF (the catch).

The hip on the side of the body of the extending arm is driving forward, not downward in opposition to the opposite hip that is driving upward. If the hips simply rolled/tipped from side to side as one unit, there would be no dynamic loading nor any dynamic energy.

Here’s what proper hip drive feels like for me: I feel sometimes like I ride my ribcage and the front of my pelvic bone on the side of the arm that is extending. It is a slight spinal twist-like movement that can be felt in the middle of the core and up through the ribcage, not just at the hips.

But the simple answer to your question is that the hip on the side of the finishing hand does drive up just enough to help add power to the finish. But remember, you do not want to get caught on that side. Don’t roll too far. You want to move your core smoothly, meaning that the hip drive should provide dynamic energy without overdoing it and getting stuck for even an instant on the finishing side.

This video shows me demonstrating the Serape One-Arm Drill, which exaggerates the timing that we’re shooting for:


Sheila Taormina’s Swim Speed Series reveals the world’s fastest way to swim.