After you’ve glided in a streamline for about three seconds, it’s time to use your arms. Move your hands apart. Bend your elbows, and point your fingertips downward. Stiffen your forearm to grip the water as you pull. Then move your arms back in a straight line, and leave them at your sides.
Many swimmers tend to pull their arms out from their sides like during a jumping jack. Do not do this! It is extremely ineffective, and will not give you the boost forward that you should get on your pull-down. Instead, focus on keeping your arms underneath your body, and try to pull straight back.
Once your arms reach your sides, hold the position for about two seconds. Allow the boost from your arm pull to move you forward in the water.
If you’re looking to advance your pull-down, add in a dolphin kick. The dolphin kick in the pull-down just became legal in the past few years. The added kick helps move you forward in the pull-down, and naturally flows with the arm pull.
As your hands pass underneath your face, begin to do a quick, snapping dolphin kick with your legs. Keep this motion small and rapid, otherwise it will slow your pull-down. Do not use as much of your body as you normally would with a dolphin kick. Instead, try to use a small body roll and mostly kick from the knees down.
Also, don’t let your knees bend too much. Play around with the flick of your feet. It should feel like an added boost. However, it should not feel as if you’re using an entire body roll. If you feel a strong press with your chest, your kick is too big. See how small you can make the kick while still strengthening your pull-down.
Keep in mind that you’re only allowed to do one dolphin kick. Otherwise you will get disqualified. Also note that the dolphin kick is not necessary. If you find it tricky, skip the kick for now.