A previous breast stroker, Helen Birch switched to front crawl on doctor’s orders (she was told the breast stroke leg kick would futher damage her joints) but found it very tough until she signed up to Steven Shaw’s Learn to Crawl workshop.
A former competitive breast stroker himself, Shaw had virtually given up swimming after suffering chronic neck and shoulder pain. But after studying the Alexander Technique, he developed a new way of swimming which supposedly gives swimmers much better posture.
He told The Telegraph: “There is an ease and good grace to swimmers. Your body is like a see-saw, and if your head and neck are in alignment, it affects the way you move. It’s poetry in motion.”
He says about crawl:
“It’s a front wheel drive stroke. The legs are primarily for balance and stability. Those swimmers who thrash up and down pumping their legs like pistons are simply wasting their energy.”
Essentially, what Steven Shaw is saying doesn’t seem particularly radical from what a lot of other swimming coaches are now teaching. Last summer I went on a front crawl workshop with Total Immersion – a similar type of teaching method which also focuses on balance, posture and, most importantly, breathing rather than power.
It has definitely improved my stroke making it much smoother than before when I used to whirl my arms around like windmills apparently. But just recently I have also experienced some shoulder and neck pain so maybe I will check out Steven Shaw’s class to see if it will help.
You can check out Steven Shaw’s website at