Freestyle technique for beginners and improvers to improve your stroke part three of three pages concludes with timing, breathing and float practices

Freestyle technique /introduction

Freestyle technique swimming / front crawl take some practice and dedication, it takes some upper body strength and stamina it is one of the most commonly used and taught stroke. I would say it is harder to learn if you are an adult and you can't swim at all. I would strongly recommend that if you are a complete non-swimmer that this is not the stroke to learn as your first swimming stroke. You would be much better to start with breastroke. I have two pages about breastroke the first page starts with the legs and push and glides the second page teaches you the arms, breathing and timing of the stroke. You always learn a new stroke starting with the legs.

Freestyle technique /Click onto this link to go to my first page about breastroke legs

You need to learn freestyle arms before trying breathing and timing, having an understanding of this will help you to do the stroke more efficiently

Click here to look at my page about freestyle arms if you have not read it and you are a beginner When you learn freestyle swimming you need to remember that that the power from the stroke comes from the arms and the legs contribute only about 4-5 percent. This does not mean that the legs are not important they help to keep the body in a streamlined position in the water it also prevents the legs moving side to side as you use your arms (lateral deviation).

When you learn freestyle swimming you will find it is better to swim the stroke with your head in the water, it keeps your body in a streamlined position. I will go through the details with you in later practices but I just letting you know what you will need to do. You will also notice that the practices I show are intentionally not explained in technical detail this is because I am aiming this page for improvers and beginners who want to learn a new stroke, you can then prefect this by reading my page about freestyle swimming which tells you in a lot more technical detail.

Freestyle technique /if you want to read my page about freestyle which does include the freestyle arms then click onto this link

Freestyle technique / full stroke

This part of the stroke is done at the same time so it is best to show you together. It will take some time and practice but we will build up to it with some progressive practices. Let's start with a simple full stroke first. This is done by kicking your legs explained in page one and doing both arms at the same time explained in page two, one arm then the other when the one arm is in the recovery phase but for now keep your head above water. You may find after practicing this that it is hard because your legs are sinking not allowing for a good body position, don’t worry this is simply because your head is not in the water think of it as a see-saw action. If your head is up your legs will sink, if your head is in the water too far down your legs will rise to far to the surface of the water. Once your head is in the water it will correct itself. All you are doing is having a go at the full skill before you begin the progressions

Freestyle technique /push and glide progressions

For the first progressive practice do a push and glide from the side of the pool, you should be familiar with these if you have read my other pages but if you have not then all you do is push hard off the side of the pool arms straight and together in front of you, head in the water and keeping legs together and straight. Glide for about 4-5 meters or so or as far as you can until you come to a stop. This is the position you should be in when swimming freestyle technique.

Practice this until you feel comfortable with it then move on to the next practice. Now try pushing off the side and glide only for a few seconds in the same position as above then do the freestyle swimming arms and legs. Do not breathe just go until you feel you need a breath but do not push yourself. You are probably thinking why am I swimming without breathing? When do you breathe? The reason being that you need to get used to swimming with your head in the water before you complicate it by asking you to breathe as well, just keep on practicing this until it comes natural and comfortable.

Freestyle technique /one arm one float

I know what you are thinking I did this on page two, this is different this will be starting you off with the breathing and timing doing one arm at a time. You have already done one arm one float with your head above water so all I need to tell you is the variation. Remember your legs and the arm enters the water between the shoulder and your head thumb enters water first.

Hold the float at the end put your head in the water and swim freestyle arms, the only difference is that when you get to the point of your arms about to come out of the water with bent elbow your head will then turn to that side. For example if you are swimming with your left arm then you breathe to your left and so on. It is important that you breathe to the side do not be tempted to lift your head this will make your legs sink. It is a turn of the head only do not turn the whole body or your body position will suffer. Also as your head is in the water breathe out otherwise when you turn your head to the side you will have to breathe out then in which will cause a pause and the freestyle swimming stroke is streamlined and continuous. When doing one arm one float you breathe on every stroke. Have a look at my demonstration of one arm and one float to give you an idea of what it looks like. I have included two photographs one with the head in showing the pull and the other showing the recovery and the breathing to the side.

Freestyle technique /two arms one float

Once you have managed one arm one float and you are comfortable with it you can try using two arms. The stroke and breathing is the same the only difference is that you use two arms. When using two arms you only breathe to one side, by now you probably have found a preference to which side you prefer to breathe from. So for example you have chosen to breathe to the right this means that when you are swimming with the left arm your head is looking down and slightly forward with the water line on the brow of your head. So now you know how to breathe you simply hold the float with both hands at the end then do one arm stroke with one arm, finish the arm stroke back holding the float then swim with the other arm then hold the float again one of the arm stroke you would have taken your breath remember to breathe out. You are now swimming holding a float, keep on practicing this until you get the feel of the arms, legs, breathing and timing.

There is no photograph for this because it will look like one arm one float.

You can vary the breathing for example you can miss a breath and breathe on the next that would be every four strokes this is useful for swimming short distances that does not use too much energy.

You will then kick a nice strong leg kick but if you are interested in the technical aspects of the different ratios of the leg kick and breathing patterns in freestyle technique then, click onto this link to view my page about freestyle swimming

Freestyle technique /full stroke

Now all you need to do it put it all together, start off with a push and glide with your head in the water. Start your arms out stretched and together then beginning with the first arm then when you get to the position when the arm is coming out of the water use the other, breathe on your chosen side breathe out when your head is in the water. Head looking down and slightly forward. Keep reaching forward and pull the water behind you keep elbows high, elbows first to come out of the water and last to come in. Turn your hand so the little finger comes out first on recovery, thumb enters water on entry.

Once you have learned freestyle swimming you can start doing some practices with or without floats that improve your skill, stamina and strength of your stroke, they are called drills. If you would like to read my page about freestyle drills then click onto this link to go to it Hope you have enjoyed my page about freestyle swimming and have enjoyed reading it as much as I have writing it, there are plenty more pages being added so come back.

Maybie you have a question you would like to ask me or some advise you would like to give then go onto my forum to build you very own page about freestyle technique. soon.

Take care Dale Dudley Click here to return to home page

How are you getting on learning freestryle swimming? Do you have any questions or advice you would like to give to others?

How are you getting on learning freestyle swimming? Have my pages helped you in any way? Is there something missing on my page, maybe there is something you would like me to include but I have not written about it, Do you have any questions? Or maybe you would like to share your experiences with other people so that they can learn from you. Whatever the reason this forum is for you to share your enjoyment of the sport and exchange experiences and learn from each other.

[ ? ]

Upload 1-4 Pictures or Graphics (optional) Mabie a picture of yourself to make it more personal[ ? ]


Click here to upload more images (optional)

Author Information (optional)

To receive credit as the author, enter your information below.

(first or full name)

(e.g., City, State, Country)

Submit Your Contribution

 submission guidelines.

(You can preview and edit on the next page)

What Other Visitors have said about freestyle swimming

Click below to see contributions and freestyle swimming questions and answers from other visitors.

How do I know I'm kicking from the hips not the knees 
Hi Dale I've been practising the freestyle stroke for some weeks now and think I'm getting better at it. However, I am still not sure whether my leg …

Front Crawl - questions and answers(swimming help) 
Dear Dale, I have exhausted myself going through all the write ups on front crawl and the video clips but still did not come across any reference …

swimming techniques help, unable to lift head during freestyle swimming Not rated yet
I can swim freestyle with head down in water but that puts lots of strain. I am a beginner and learning. I’m still not able to lift my head for breathing, …

Click here to write your own.