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unco - the king of drills

'unco' is a shortening of 'uncoordinated' but get this drill right and it'll help transform the rhythm and timing of your stroke

Unco is a special drill which helps you develop the rhythm and timing of your stroke. We love Unco at Swim Smooth as it brings so many elements of the stroke together and forces you to time your catch, pull and body rotation correctly. You can even use it to polish up the timing of your breathing.

Australians love to shorten any word and put an 'o' on the end - in this case shortening 'uncoordinated' to make Unco. This probably tells you straight away that it is quite a challenging drill! We'd encourage any swimmer to give it a try but it is probably best suited and most beneficial for upper intermediate and advanced level swimmers.

If you are a bit of an Overglider or have any deadspots or pauses in your stroke then give it a go, you'll find it really interesting.

Performing Unco

Unless you have an exceptionally propulsive kick, always use fins when performing Unco. It's a one arm drill, performed with one arm by your side whilst performing a full stroke with the other arm:


Sequence taken from our new Catch Masterclass DVD

Breathe away from the stroking arm and breathe on every single stroke - even if you don't feel you need to - this helps drive your body rotation. We suggest you start with your right arm stroking and breathe to your left as shown in the pictures above. Once you get the hang of it you can swap sides every 25m or so.

The key to the drill is to make sure that you rotate your body fully to the dead side as shown in the last picture. There'll be a temptation not to do this, the key is ensuring that you dip your non-stroking arm and shoulder down into the water as shown in the last picture. The mantra of the drill is 'stroke and dip... stroke and dip...'. You will really have to emphasise dipping the dead shoulder into the water as there's no arm stroke on that side to help you.

This rotation within the drill is critical. Get it right and your stroking arm will recover easily over the top of the water. However stay flat on that dead side and the arm recovery will be very tough!

If you struggle to coordinate the drill don't worry that's normal - in fact it's the whole idea and simply highlights that the timing of your stroke may need some work. When you get it right it should be smooth and rhythmical.

Try 4x 100m with fins on as: 4x[ 25m left arm Unco + 25m right arm Unco + 50m freestyle swim + 20 seconds rest ]

How Should It Feel?

Because you are only using one arm, Unco is always going to be a little bit surgey - the surge should be fowards with the propulsion from the stroking arm. If you feel like you are bobbing up and down a lot then this highlights that you are pressing down on the water at the front of the stroke. This only lifts you up which doesn't generate any propulsion and acts to sink your legs, creating drag. If you feel like you are bobbing vertically then you need to work on a better catch action, pressing the water backwards, not downwards.

Why It's The King Of Drills

There's two reasons why Unco is the King Of Drills: firstly, if you're not sure what to work on in your stroke then you can't go wrong with Unco - it gives a benefit to almost any swimmer, even elite swimmers. Secondly, it helps you put all the elements of your stroke together, making sure everything works with the right timing - no other drill does this.

You will feel the magic of Unco when you swim normal freestyle immediately after performing the drill. We recommend you perform a short swim every time following Unco, keeping the fins on and just feeling the rhythm and timing of the stroke. The improved smoothness and efficiency can be a revelation!

Swim Smooth Terms and Conditions

Swim Smooth Links

all about front crawl breathing here.
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get a better front crawl catch and swim quicker.
all about swimming technique in your language.
all about freestyle technique to swim faster.
kick ass triathlon training plan for you.
all about front crawl breathing here.
tips on triathlon swimming for you.
get a better front crawl catch and swim quicker.
all about swimming technique in your language.
all about freestyle technique to swim faster.
kick ass triathlon training plan for you.