Riddos Swim & Surf Tips

By Craig Riddington, former surf ironman champion and Australian representative swimmer

Riddo's swimming and surf tip for April, brought to you by SWIMFASSST

Swim - Lead with your elbow (view images to better understand)

Many swimmers try to swim like a windmill, leading with their hands, meaning their hand is dictating the stroke at all parts through end of pull and start of recovery. A good swimmer will lead this part of their stroke with their elbows. They do this by lifting the elbows at the back of the stroke forcing body roll, whereas a hand swimmer will push back past the exit point with their hands, and their hand will exit the water before or simultaneously with the elbow. This means they will lose their ability to rotate and they will remain flat in the water. A good swimmer will then lead the recovery with high elbows leaving the hand behind suspended under the elbow. This will continue to the head which means all the big muscle groups are following behind. On passing the head - the hand will naturally pass the elbow and drop into the water with momentum forcing the large muscles to follow the stroke through natural extension & rotation. The hand swimmer will unfortunately not have body roll or momentum and will not be using the big muscle groups - only arms, their stroke will also be tight and mechanical. See images and you will notice the swimmers that lead with elbows look stronger, more relaxed and longer, and hand swimmers are weaker, tight and short. There are many drills you can do to fix this common problem.

Swimfassst will also teach a swimmer how to reach and rotate leading with the elbows

lead with hyands or elbows

Surf - Rips about and simple tips on how to survive one


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Riddo's swimming and surf tip forMarch 2016, brought to you by SWIMFASSST


Correct angle at freestyle catch
There is a lot of talk amongst swimmers and swimming coaches these days in regard to the correct angle at freestyle catch, which is now referred to as “early vertical forearm”. This subject can easily be found via web searches
Watching the majority of swimmers underwater (I’d say 99%), the common problem is the dropping of elbow, this is a result from a number of things - like lack of strength, or trying to pull the arms back through the water at the elbow, or a lack of water feel.
How do you know if you are dropping the elbow?
Is your elbow bone a) facing the bottom of the pool at the catch, or b) is it tilted more outwards to the side. If it is a) then you catch is the wrong angle and you won’t have effective propulsion through the water, if it is b) you will have the correct set up and will be easily able to drop the hand and then forearm into the correct position after catch. The swimfassst device is designed to force the correct angle at catch through drills and this will have an immediate conscious and sub conscious effect on your swimming, and understanding what angles hold the water and propel the body through the water.
Something to think about – we don’t pull our arms through the water, rather carry our body over our hand, forearm and elbow through correct catch and body roll, these are all corrected by using the swimfassst device.

elbow angles


How to catch a wave like a dolphin (underwater) (see video)
This is easier than it looks, and I find it a lot more exhilarating than normal body surfing, however this technique is recommended for experienced body surfers only (see warning below) .
Catch a green breaking wave as you normally would, then on last stroke dip your head underwater as you pull your arms back by your side in one powerful motion with a swift butterfly kick. Like a breaststroke start for those who have swam before. Here’s the difficult part, tilt your head down so that you remain just below the surface as you are going down inside the face of the wave, too little will mean you will come spearing out of the wave and too much will mean you will plough your head into the sandbank, which isn’t a good thing (see warning below). Your head will be a lot lower than your feet which will be at the top of the wave crest

Continue fluent butterfly kick and keep head position, you will get faster and faster as the wave prepares to break and the feeling is quite amazing.
Just as the wave is going to break, and this comes from knowing the motion of the waves, tilt your head up slightly and you will spear out with the white-water. Throw your hands forward after exit into streamline position if you want to continue on wave
Warning there is a risk of hitting your head on the sand bank and causing neck damage. You must ensure no one is in front of you before body surfing a wave with this technique, best not to perform in swimming areas amongst large crowds of swimmers

Love to hear your feedback – riddo

Riddo's swimming and surf tip for February 2016, brought to you by SWIMFASSST


Ensure your hands are relaxed; they should be slightly open but not spread apart, slightly cupped. You will hold a lot more water with a relaxed heavy hand, and this will relay down through forearms and so on. A relaxed hand is also heavy and creates forward momentum. Rather than trying to push or pull the water think about your feel for the water and how well you are holding it. I was once told in a golf lesson to grab my instrument rather than my club, this was to take away the thought of smashing the ball. Same with swimming, we are not trying to wrestle the water, rather massage it. RELAX



hands soft hands1


Body surfing – to hold a wave to the beach
Relaxed heavy hands, in fact everything is relaxed, stretch your body as if it’s going to snap at the belly button, but not stiff, body remains streamline and weight distribution is on your heavy hands. Make sure front of body is not bowed - rather flat like a plank. I demonstarte this on the sand by trying to push my hand through the soft sand when it is bowed, and then in comparison to when my hand is straight. One creates a sand hill and the other slips straight through the sand
No need to kick frantically until the wave is dying out.
No need to stroke with the arms to assist, as this will only create resistance and affect streamlining.
To breathe - only when you are in a comfortable position within the wave, take a fast and efficient stroke to keep you in front of the wave, and a quick breath. If you try to breathe when you are back in the wave you will fall off it. See samples -
sorry about the poor video quality

Best body surfer i have ever seen?
Ky Hurst, I watched hime once push through 2 double ups in a row, with now effort whatsoever

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