How do I rectify a thumb-first hand entry?

Cassie At Bude Sea Pool

Our resident Olympian answers your swimming questions

Many moons ago I was taught a thumb-first hand entry. I now know this is wrong but I am finding it hard to rectify. Any tips?
Sharon Green

Coach Cassie says:
Join the thumb-first club! I too was taught to swim with a thumb-first entry – and it was a contributing factor to my ongoing shoulder injury and early retirement from swimming. I am glad to hear you are trying to change this as a finger first entry is both more efficient as you are in the best position to ‘catch’ the water in the propulsive phase and it also relieves a lot of unnecessary tension on the bicep head tendon.

The way I coach this is to imagine your hand is a letter and the water is a letterbox – you are aiming to slide your three middle fingertips into the water first, this assists in flattening the hand and stopping the thumb from entering first. There are paddles that can give you feedback on whether your entry is correct (see the article ‘Fine tune your catch’ in the training section of

Cassie Patten won bronze in the first ever Olympic 10km marathon swim, in the Beijing 2008 Olympics. Cassie now coaches and is a commentator at open water events. @cassiepatten

Email your questions to: with the subject ‘Coach Cassie’

01 Cover October

Issue 54 October 2021

  • We Swim Proud: The LGBTQ+ experience of swimming outdoors
  • Autumn Adventures: The best places to wild swim this autumn
  • Crowning Glory: Courtney Paulk’s historic Double Triple Crown
  • Cassie Patten: What is the best style front crawl stroke for the open water?
  • Access All Areas: The problem of making lidos more accessible to disabled swimmers

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