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Learn All About Freestyle Swimming Stroke

If you are a swimming enthusiast you must have stumbled upon the terminology, “Freestyle Swimming”. The freestyle stroke famously referred to as the front crawls, is a faster, efficient swimmer’s stroke used in competitions.

This is why a lot of athletes use freestyle which is often considered as one of their favorite stroke styles. This is a guide that describes the swimming techniques for freestyle strokes and front crawls.

This article is a must-read for all those swimmers who are keen to learn about freestyle swimming and look forward to competitive swimming.

Getting To Know The Freestyle Stroke

The freestyle stroke is recommended to all swimmers at the beginner level since it is very common in the swimming world. Before one becomes a competitive swimmer, the individual is usually seen practicing freestyle strokes on the water surface.

woman swimming on pool

Freestyle is famously referred to as the front crawl which is used by almost everyone that you see in open waters or in swimming pools. You would hardly see someone swimming on their back in a natural setting.

What Makes Freestyle Swimming So Popular?

The freestyle stroke is a convenient position, to begin with especially if you are a beginner. Usually used as the base for most of the swim training, freestyle has gained quite the popularity.

The popularity is primarily because of the balance the position provides between rotation, and easy gliding resulting in challenging most of the muscles in the body.

man swimming on body of water

The front crawl stroke is widely used because of its breathing technique, arm stroke, and leg movement, which enables the swimmer to swim fast and that too for a longer duration of time.

Usually, it is a swimmer’s first choice since it promotes water stability and good speed.

How To Go About Freestyle Swimming? Simple, Arm Stroke and Flutter Kick

The freestyle involves alternate arms making windmills move backward while heads are underwater and the swimmer breathes side to side.

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Typically it consists of arms and legs movement that includes flutter kicks that are synchronized by handstrokes for balancing the body in between 2-6 beats.

Amongst the four primary strokes, freestyle tops the list with its superb speed.

Face Down Swimming Position

The body position of the front crawl is face down, enabling a natural range of motion for the arms and the legs.

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Moving your arms in a forward position enables an easy, safe and fast way to rotate the arms which gets difficult otherwise, such as in a backstroke where the movement gets tricky moving along the back of the spine.

Also, the alternating arms add better motion to the body, which helps in recovering easily.

5 Front Crawl Swimming Tips

A front crawl is a commonly encountered swimming stroke. Swimming the front crawl can be good to maintain whole-body fitness and at the highest levels, athletes compete on this technique. Yes, it’s an extensive full-body workout.

Front crawling is the most common swimming stroke at international competitions along with the butterfly stroke, breaststroke, and backstroke.

Continue to swing a kick with both hands moving towards you and pulling into the water. The front crawl is typically the fastest stroke of all competitive strokes and has relatively difficult learning characteristics.’

1. Head Position

A good head position is the foundation of good swimming. Your head directs the body, in case it’s in the wrong position it’s going to send out wrong cues which can throw your entire body off technique and affect your swimming speed adversely.

Free Person in Swimming Goggles in Water

Ideally, the starting position of a freestyle swim is face down, looking straight at the bottom. This position aligns the hips to stay above the water surface.

Proper adjustment is fundamental, if you look forward more than what is required it would cause resistance and make your hips drop.

You ought to fix your head in such a position that the waterline should fall at the center of your head crown. In simple words, it should feel as if you are swimming downhill.

2. Breathing

Once your head is set in the right position, it’s time to bring in breathing. Breathing can be challenging for a new swimmer, the stamina builds over time. Initially, you tend to lift your head straight up more than usual when you are exhausted.

Protip: Don’t lift your head often as it would create drag slow your swimming and make it difficult to advance at a fast pace.

Free Swimmer Training in the Pool Stock Photo

The trick is to tilt your head to one side, keeping one side of your face in the water. It may seem like you’ll inhale water, but don’t panic, an air pocket is created with the forward momentum which will help in getting in a quick breath.

Keep practicing: The breathing gets easier with the rotational technique of freestyle swimming.

3. The Pull

Next comes the pull. Position your hands at eleven and one like on a clock and enter the hands with your fingertips first.

Free Man in Black Sunglasses Swimming in Pool

Begin with an Early Vertical Forearm (EVF) position and reach your forearm forward. Bend your elbow and pull them towards your feet. Make sure to elevate your elbow to a higher spot.

The EVF position converts your forearm into a giant paddle, that enables you to pull more water than you would if your forearm was in a straight position. This position is less stressful for your shoulders as well.

As your hand exists on the water surface, position your elbow high as you recover and enter the water again.

Protip: It is always good to position your elbow above the hand, both above and under water.

4. The Kick

Freestyle swimming requires comparatively straight legs with minimal knee movement. The kick should initiate from the hip instead of the knees. Also, make sure that your toes are pointed.

Free Man in Black Shorts Swimming in Water

The kicks should be vigilant, fast and small, keep minimal space between your feet and do not let it exceed more than half a meter.

Protip: When striving for speed and efficiency, it is always recommended to go for compact kicks instead of large kicks.

5. Rotational Momentum

Finally putting all the aspects of the stroke together in a rotation. As you make your way through water, your body should rotate from one side to another maximizing the distance with every stroke.

Protip: When rotating, initiate the rotation from your hips and the core instead of the shoulders.

Common Mistakes in Freestyle Swimming

Below mentioned are some of the most common mistakes in free-swimming techniques.

1. Wide Arm Recovery

The difficulties in wide arm recovery are mostly related to extending arms, which can cause energy loss and dragging on shoulder muscles.

2. Put on the brakes

Setting the brace in front crawling is a common mistake made by front crawling swimmers. It increases weight and reduces swimming speed.

3. Overreaching Arm Recovery

Avoid excessive arm recovery, e.g. freestyle strokes because too much arm recovery may result in pain.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is front crawl the same as freestyle?

Yeah! Freestyle has been considered an alternative to strokes for swimming competitions. The most commonly used stroke during a freestyle racing race is front crawl because it is fast and the word freestyle was also coined to refer to the front crawl.

What are the three main types of freestyle swimming?

Freestyle can be classified as hip, shoulder, or body driven. All freestyle styles have different methods and uses. Learn each one for an improved swimming technique.

What is the Australian crawl in swimming?

Australian crawling in American English adjective. A crawl where the swimmer kicks two legs with the opposite arm.


Stretch forward as your hand enters the water, start rotating and take breaths in between. Advancing, as your other hand recovers and enter the water again, you rotate to the other side.

That is how simple a freestyle swimming style is. The more you focus on the technique and build your stamina, the sooner you would be able to swim faster and for longer lengths.

Hope this article serves you in learning freestyle swimming if you are a beginner and mastering the style if you are a pro swimmer. Check this if you want to know more about swimming lessons.