Here are some techniques to make your recovery more effective:
Keep your arms symmetrical. Each arm’s recovery action should be a mirror image of the other. If one arm swings wider or higher than the other, your body will skew awkwardly and your legs may bend excessively or splay widely. In the pool, you will waste energy in making minor subconscious directional adjustments and, in the open water, you will constantly veer off course and that is a sure way to swim a much longer distance than you intend to. You will make your recovery symmetrical much easier if you use three-stroke/bilateral breathing.
Relax your arm in the recovery. Don’t tense your arm muscles in the recovery. You will want to bring it forward fast only if you want to swim fast but, even then, you must still keep your arm muscles relaxed. This is not a time to put strength into your arm action, so don’t thrash your arm into the water in front of you - that is a completely misplaced and pointless expenditure of energy.
Keep your elbow high and your fingers low. There are a few techniques that may help here:
o Imagine a piece of string attached to your elbow which pulls it high out of the water
o Imagine your fingers dangling vertically just above the surface of the water, not high above it
o Imagine the fingers of your hand to be the bristles of a paint brush which paints an imaginary straight line in the water parallel to the body (it is this imaginary line that your pull and push arm action will soon follow in the water)
Don’t forget to roll/rotate your body. If you do not rotate, you will not be able to pull your elbow straight out of the water or, if you try to do so, you risk injuring your shoulder.