Freestyle Finish

Most beginning swimmers don't put too much thought into how they finish their freestyle race.  It is ironic, because the majority of the races are decided during the last couple seconds of the race with the edge going to the swimmer with the better finish.  So pay attention and practice! 

The finish can be broken down into the following components:

The Approach.  A swimmer's finish does not begin on the last stroke of the race.  It starts yards before reaching the wall when the swimmer begins to site the wall.  This is where the swimmer's head is up and his or her eyes are focusing on the wall.  This is also where laziness can really hurt you, because as you are looking at the wall, your mind will automatically start recalculating your stroke length to bring you into the wall at just the right amount of strokes.  If you forget to look up until it's too late you may be stuck short-stroking the last stroke or trying to stretch out the last stroke too far--in other words, you'll be caught in between strokes.  And, that is where a huge portion of races are lost. So, to prevent this, site the wall from far away.

Also, don't take any breaths from at least the flags in.  No one (as far as we know) has ever died from holding their breath those last few seconds, but many racers have beat out their competition just by not breathing during those last few strokes.  Why? Because; 1. breathing slows you down by taking away some of your streamline, and 2. taking a breath throws off your line of sight with the wall.

Lastly, and of course obviously, swim like a mo-fo to the wall!

The Lunge.  The last part of every freestyle race involves this part.  If you have done the first step right, you should be in prime position for the best lunge ever to end a race.  Generally, you should give your last stroke some extra umph! and kick extra hard.  As you reach out for the wall you should be turning onto your side slightly.

You should be aiming to touch straight out in front of you, just below (an inch or two or three) the surface. Why?  Because the shortest distant between two points is a straight line.  If your body and shoulder are just below the surface, the tips of your fingers should be touching the wall at the exact same depth.

As you stretch for the wall, you should be on your side by about 45% and your shoulder lunging forward should be up to your ear.  Not your head to your shoulder, but your shoulder to your ear.  There is a big difference.  As you stretch, you should be pushing far back/following through with your other hand that is behind you.  The goal is to have one last super-hard stroke and be completely stretched out towards the wall upon impact.

If you nail it, you will beat the swimmer next to you 9 times out of ten (unless he or she is also gugly-trained!).  If you don't, keep practicing the timing and the technique!