Do you want to learn about different swimming styles? Check out our Swimming Strokes Guide
Swimming is a brilliant cardiovascular exercise that gives all your major muscle groups a good workout whilst being low impact which reduces your risk of injury. If you are just getting started on incorporating swimming into your fitness routine, you might be wondering how to swim freestyle.
What is freestyle swimming?
One of the most popular strokes amongst swimmers is freestyle, sometimes also known as front crawl swimming. This is the fastest of the four primary strokes and is performed by keeping your head down whilst alternating arm strokes and kicks. It is one of the most fundamental strokes for any swimmer to master so we have compiled some tips to help you to learn and perfect your technique.
Freestyle And Front Crawl Technique
Getting your freestyle swimming technique right can be challenging if your head position isn’t right, not only may this be uncomfortable, but it will also throw the rest of your body off and likely slow you down or make you veer off-course. You need to position your head so that you are looking down towards the bottom of the pool. To keep your head position correct and in line with your spine, keep your head down and tuck your chin into your chest. To keep your whole body aligned, float on your stomach with your legs extended in front of you and your legs together, all the while maintaining your head position with your chin tucked into your chest. When you’re ready, you can push off and start swimming!
Breathing For Front Crawl
The breathing technique is often one of the trickiest aspects of freestyle for beginners to master. Rather than raising your head to take a breath, turn your head to the side and keep one side of your head submerged. Whilst it can be tempting to raise your head, this will misalign your body and create more drag which will make it harder to swim. To help you stay relaxed and prevent you from accidentally inhaling water, ensure that you fully exhale before taking in a new breath. To begin with, you may want to take a new breath every three strokes whilst you get the hang of it. Once you feel more confident with freestyle swimming, you can experiment with different breathing techniques and find what works for you.
When pulling, try to focus on smooth and even strokes to avoid pulling too hard or over-reaching, both of which will slow you down and tire you out. Keep your arms close to your side and only reach as far as you need to in order to keep propelling yourself forward. Keeping your elbow close to your body as you extend your arm forward will help you to build momentum and power when pulling. Keeping your arms parallel to your body throughout each stroke and keeping your elbows close to your body will also help you to build power and keep your body aligned.
Some beginners start out freestyling with a hard kick as they mistakenly think this is the way to build enough power to move forwards when in actual fact this is more likely to slow them down and tire them out. Small, quick kicks will help you to be speedy and efficient. Keep your legs as straight as you can and point your toes.
Rotating your body throughout your swim is key to finessing your freestyle technique, it creates power and maximises your efficiency. To start with, focus on your core and your hips as you rotate to ensure your shoulders aren’t doing all the work. As your hand enters the water and you start to pull forward, rotate your body to the side. As your other hand then enters the water, you will then rotate to the other side.
If you are more of a visual learner, there’s a wealth of great videos available online explaining and demonstrating freestyle swimming techniques, including this one from MySwimPro.
It can feel daunting when you are first starting out on your freestyling journey, but the key is to practise, practise and practise some more. If you or your local swimming pool has a kickboard, it can be really helpful to practise this, to begin with as you can focus on your technique.
For more swimming tips for beginners, please check out our blog on everything you need to get started swimming.
Learn More Swimming Strokes
If you would like to learn about other styles you can read our guide to find out the fastest stroke and the main 4 Swimming Strokes