How to swim freestyle: overview and swimming technique

July 19, 2021

All world records were set by athletes who used the front crawl in freestyle swims: the freestyle swimming technique is the crawl swimming technique.

It is laborious to master, but in this article, you will learn how to swim it correctly and make sure that this task is easy — you just need to follow all the recommendations.

Freestyle swimming technique for beginners

Front crawl is a method of movement in the water in which the limbs work perpendicular to the surface. It allows you to minimize the resistance of molecules, as well as to develop a high speed.

This technique can be described as follows:

  • The swimmer continuously works with the hands and feet: the hands make alternate strokes. This is how the crawl differs from the breaststroke.
  • The body makes small turns during the strokes.
  • When the athlete raises the arm, the chest and head turn, and the swimmer takes a deep breath. The face is turned down or sideways when breathing.
  • When using the crawl, the back, shoulders, and legs are maximally affected.

Let's consider the question about freestyle swimming step by step — hands, feet, breathing.

How to swim freestyle?


Arms almost continuously perform strokes, which are the main “engine” — due to them, the athlete gets a precise acceleration.

While one hand makes a stroke, the other moves over the water surface.

The whole process can be divided into five phases:

1. Water grab. The arm bends slightly as if you want to catch on the water.

2. Freestyle swim stroke. The arm makes a stroke, passes under the body. Then it is brought to the pelvis. The closer to the end of the movement – the more the elbow rises.

3. Important: the shoulders do the most work, then the forearms and palms.

4. The hand exits the water. First, we take out the elbow, then the brush. The hand itself is relaxed.

4. Passing through. We move the relaxed hand to immerse it in water.

5. Diving. We slightly bend the arm at the elbow and immerse it, and try to slip after it. At the same time, the hand itself follows a zigzag trajectory.


Their function is body balancing.

The legs' movement occurs alternately and continuously: when one goes up, the other goes down.

The ideal starting position: a straight line with the lower part of the body slightly more lowered into the water (keeping the whole body afloat requires a lot of energy, 20 centimeters is the average depth for comfortable swimming).

It is significant to understand that the movements are carried out with almost straight legs: at the beginning of the cycle, the knee of the working leg bends slightly, and then abruptly straightens, as when kicking, after which it returns to its original position.


-The movement comes from the hip and not by bending the knees.

-The bend angle is in the range of 140-160 degrees.

-The feet are stretched out.

-The legs move close to each other — the thumbs touch.

Freestyle swimming breathing technique

  1. The face is in the water nearly all the time. At the beginning of the stroke, the swimmer looks down, the water line is approximately in the middle of his forehead.
  2. Inhale sharply through the mouth. The head turns to the right or the left when the corresponding hand is in the phase of passing over the water. By the time the hand is lowered, you need to return the head to its original position.
  3. Exhalation is performed after lowering the head into the water with the nose, or both with the nose and mouth, depending on the swimming intensity.
  4. Exhaling through the nose, you can create an airbag and get rid of water in the nasal sinuses.
  5. You can inhale on each stroke, but athletes always breathe after several strokes — usually after 3 or 5 (to quickly swim crawl, it is advisable to take fewer breaths).

The main thing is to keep the rhythm and leave your breathing constant.

Freestyle swimming tips

Some typical problems can greatly slow down the learning process and cause discomfort:

  • carrying a straight and tense hand over the water. This only tires the muscles, overloads the shoulder and wastes more strength. The correct stroke involves the passage of a relaxed hand;
  • inhaling too late;
  • incorrect position of the legs — too high or low;
  • wrong position of the face — lifting above the water level. It provokes neck stress and rapid fatigue;
  • minimal body rotation.  It causes hindered breath, reduces water resistance. The correct crawl swimming technique assumes that your body is in rotation.
  • incorrect position of the foot — it is perpendicular to the lower leg, while the toes should be stretched as far as possible.

How to swim faster freestyle?

Long-distance freestyle swimming with maintaining high speed both in the pool and in open water has the following features:

- Breathing during every second stroke. At long distances, the body needs more energy. To ensure that the muscles receive enough energy and oxygen, it is recommended to breathe every second time. If you are in good shape, you can breathe for every third stroke.

- The movements should be less intense compared to sprint distances. Pay more attention to sliding.

- Try to distribute your forces so that the second half of the distance is not slower than the first. You do not need to burn all your strength at the very beginning.

- Use different freestyle swimming drills to improve your abilities.

Have fun and be healthy!

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