How To Swim Freestyle

Learning how to swim freestyle with smooth and effortless technique is a goal many swimmers desire. Breaking freestyle (also referred to as 'front crawl') down into separate parts makes it easier to learn, fine-tune and perfect.

It is often the most straightforward swimming technique tips that make the most significant difference to your overall stroke.

So, here it is. Freestyle swimming technique, broken down into its FIVE component parts with a recommended basic drill to help improve each part.  

Watch the video demo and then scroll down to the illustrated technique breakdown.

How To Swim Freestyle Video

5 Part Technique Breakdown

1.  Freestyle Body Position

learn to swim freestyle

Long, flat and streamlined is the order of the day here. A balanced and streamlined shape in the water is the most efficient, a shape that must remain throughout all movements.

Common mistake: Hands apart and head position too high.

Best drill: Push and glide from the poolside.

Click here for some Pro Tips on performing a push and glide and fine-tune your body position.

2.  Freestyle Swimming Leg Kick

Basic freestyle kick technique

The continuous alternating leg kick has to be relaxed, with the kick coming from the hip and the knee and ankle joints relaxed.  The legs overall provide some propulsion but mainly give balance to the arms.

Common mistake: Kicking from the knee

Best drill: Kicking whilst holding a kickboard

Click here for some Pro Tips to improve freestyle leg kick by kicking whilst holding a kickboard.

3.  Freestyle Swimming Arm Action

swimming freestyle technique

The arms provide the power and propulsion for the stroke, with a continuous movement that the swimmer should not rush. The arm pull should be complete, from extended in front pulling through to the hip, recovering over the water surface.

Common mistake: Arm pull not long enough

Best drill: Single arm pull holding a kickboard in one hand

Click here for some Pro Tips on how to perform a single-arm pull drill to improve your freestyle arm technique.

4.  Freestyle Swimming Breathing Technique

Basic freestyle breathing technique

Trickle breathing is the most comfortable and efficient, breathing out into the water during the stroke and rolling the head to the side to inhale again. Explosive breathing is possible but can be exhausting.

Common mistake: Lifting the head to breathe disturbing the body position

Best drill: Holding a kickboard with a diagonal grip, kicking and breathing

Click here for more top tips and more in-depth details about freestyle breathing.

5.  Freestyle Swimming Technique Timing & Coordination

Freestyle swimming stroke

Four or six leg kicks per arm cycle are recommended for the best overall balance of freestyle swimming technique. Two kicks per arm cycle are also performed over longer distances to save energy.

Common mistake: Kicking too fast, causing arms to speed up

Best drill: Catch up, with or without a kickboard

Click here for more about the different types of freestyle timing and which one works best for you.

Learn How To Swim Freestyle With Simple Basic Drills

The complete set of basic drills covering the whole stroke is available to download in my very popular eBook 'How To Swim Front Crawl'.  Simple theory written in easy-to-understand language and fully illustrated to show exactly what each part of your body should be doing.  Packed with the best freestyle swimming technique tips.  Click the cover below to PREVIEW, or click ADD TO CART to download your copy instantly. 

Basic drills for learning how to swim front crawl
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I have trouble with freestyle breathing on the left side and started breathing every 4th stroke just on the right side. 'Breathing every third stroke is usually the ideal pattern to start with, and then swimmers usually switch to breathing every stroke over a long distance.'

Whenever I swim, I get water up my nose swimming freestyle. 'Wearing a nose clip is a short-term solution to your problem, and it may help, but it may not solve it in the long run. There is no reason you cannot learn to breathe correctly without the use of a nose clip.'

My legs sink when breathing for freestyle. 'Freestyle breathing techniques can be frustrating sometimes, and sinking legs can be a very common occurrence when you're first learning.'

Why am I sinking when I start rotating my arms? 'There are a few reasons why you might start to sink as you begin your arm action during freestyle swimming.'

I can swim freestyle, but my face is still in the water when I try to breathe on my side. 'It could be as simple as your head being too deep in the water. Have someone check your body position to see if firstly you are flat and horizontal and secondly how deep your head is.'

Frustrated with your freestyle swim stroke technique? Maybe swimming freestyle is something you always wanted to be able to perform but never really tried.

I need some freestyle breathing technique tips. 'Firstly, ensure you are breathing out into the water and not holding your breath. Breath-holding makes swimming very difficult, and many people swim holding their breath and do not realise they are doing it.'

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