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Front Crawl Stroke Technique

Learn what each part of your body should be doing...

Front crawl stroke is the fastest, most efficient swimming stroke of them all. It is also one of the most exhausting if your technique is not quite right.

Get your swimming technique just right and you will find yourself swimming smooth crawl for longer distances and with less effort.

What's Missing From Your Technique?

The streamlined body position and continuous propulsion from the arms and legs make this swimming stroke fast.  It is this continuous propulsion that makes this swimming stroke aerobically challenging.  Combined with the fact that the face is constantly submerged, which requires a specific breathing technique, it is not surprising that some of us find swimming front crawl stroke hard work.

Learn Each Part Of Front Crawl Stroke

Click on an image for more information.

For some specific exercises that focus on each part of the stroke, click here.

The alternating action of the arms and legs is relatively easy on the joints and the stroke as a whole develops aerobic capacity faster than any other stroke.

Front crawl breathing technique requires the head to be turned so that the mouth clears the water but causes minimal upset to the balance of the body from its normal streamlined position. 

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Explosive and trickle breathing are the two most common types of freestyle breathing technique, the latter being the easiest and most preferred.

Avoid These Common Front Crawl Mistakes

A common mistake made with this technique is holding the breath, which causes carbon dioxide levels in the blood to rise.  This results in a sudden and urgent need for oxygen. 

Exhaling gradually makes inhaling and getting more oxygen into the system much easier.

Another common mistake is over use of the leg kick in an attempt to gain more movement through the water.  This saps energy and over long distances can be exhausting.

The arm action generates almost all of the propulsion and is the most efficient arm action of all strokes.  The leg action promotes a horizontal, streamlined body position and balances the arm action but provides little propulsion.  

The timing and coordination of the arms and legs occurs most commonly with six leg kicks to one arm cycle.  However, freestyle stroke timing can vary, with a four beat cycle and even a two beat cycle, which is most commonly used in long distance swims and endurance events such as triathlons.

You will find some effective exercises for learning how to swim this stroke in my book pictured left. Click here to download a free sample and take a look.

Alternatively click here for some basic technical exercises.


Common Front Crawl Questions and Answers. Tell us yours...

Got a problem with front crawl? Is there something about your technique you want to share? This is the place to do it!

What Other Visitors Have Asked and Said About Their Front Crawl

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

Why Do I Get So Tired Swimming Front Crawl? 
I have a question about breathing while doing front crawl. In the lane swim tonight I found out that several of us are having a similar problem -- ending …

Fix My Front Crawl Technique 
I need some tips on how to fix my front crawl technique. My hips sway back and forth while I swim front crawl. How can I fix this? There are two …

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When I use my arms in the front crawl my feet stop kicking. Thanks for getting in touch. Your problem is a common one and it is a question of coordination. …

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I am 68 years old and not very athletic. When I swim 50 metres I am very slow and when I get to the end I am breathless and exhausted. I have been taught …

I Lose My Front Crawl Technique When I Get Tired Not rated yet
I seem to lose my front crawl technique and my kicking when I get tired.The first ten lengths is ok but after that when I get tired its all gone. Please …

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I have never been able to move when kicking with a kick board. It’s got to be my leg kick. What can I do to correct this? This is very common, and …

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I had a question about my lost sense of smell after swimming for a long time. I enjoy swimming as much as possible, and for some reason, I seem to …

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As a 60-year-old tri who had left shoulder rotator cuff surgery 10-2011. I’m trying to restore front crawl balance after shoulder surgery. My balance …

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I have a problem with front crawl breathing and arm techniques. This is my third weeks of lessons by a tutor at my local pool, I just cannot grasp the …

Front Crawl Breathing Technique Not rated yet
My daughters front crawl breathing technique needs some help. She must pass a lifeguard test to keep her job as a supervisor at a fitness centre. While …

Swim For Longer Distances Without Getting Out Of Breath Not rated yet
How do I learn to sustain front crawl for more than 2 lengths and swim for longer? Two factors will determine how long you can sustain front crawl …

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I need help with my front crawl kicking. I'm pretty new to the swimming thing but I know I'm using my arms to swim more than my legs and am prepared to …

Front Crawl Breathing Difficult Not rated yet
I am finding front crawl breathing difficult. I am a beginner and I have recently tried to do the front crawl, but am having a hard time with it. I would …

Front Crawl Technique Gets Me Out of Breath Not rated yet
I would like some swimming advice as my front crawl technique gets me out of breath. I've been active all my life. I've ran and cycled for many years. …

Incorrect Front Crawl Body Position Not rated yet
At 72 I learnt to swim last year and I am delighted. However, I have a problem incorrect front crawl body position. Apparently my legs drop down in …

Faster Kicks For Front Crawl Not rated yet
I am wondering if I should be doing faster kicks for front crawl? I'm now 53 yrs old and have been swimming since I was 7 years old. I swim 1.25km most …

Increasing Front Crawl Endurance and Front Crawl Speed Not rated yet
I am working on increasing front crawl endurance but still getting somewhat out of breath while breathing every 3rd stroke on opposite sides. I try to …

Correct Front Crawl Kicking Technique? Not rated yet
I just started with the swimming lessons, in the second class I had to practice kicking with the board but I couldn’t go forward regardless of the fast …

Front Crawl Coordination of Arms, Legs and Breathing Not rated yet
While doing front crawl I am unable to coordinate hand and leg movements properly. Can you suggest any simple tips for coordinating front crawl arms and …

Front Crawl Coordination Not rated yet
I need help with my front crawl coordination. The corodination between arms and feet is my problem. I use 4 kicks but seem to slow down when just kicking …

Front Crawl Hand Entry Not rated yet
I would like some advice for front crawl hand entry and front crawl breathing. I've recently started going swimming again after not going in roughly …

Sinking When Swimming Front Crawl Not rated yet
I find myself sinking when swimming front crawl. I'm able to float and also with push glide and leg action alone, manage some decent distance. But the …

Basic Front Crawl Swimming Tips Not rated yet
Could you give me some front crawl swimming tips please? I am just starting to swim and I'm having trouble with my front crawl. I feel like I'm wasting …

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