Freestyle SwimmingOne of the most basic and commonly taught strokes is called “freestyle,” which is also known as front crawl. When done properly, it is the fastest of the four strokes, and it is usually to easiest to master. If you’ve watched any of the past Summer Olympics, you’ve probably seen pros like Katie Ledecky or Michael Phelps crush events like the 800m freestyle or the 200m freestyle, respectively. Whether you’re a seasoned lap swimmer, or someone just starting to try it out, it’s always a good thing to brush up on the basics and keep focusing on your stroke technique.
Swimming TechniqueThere are 5 main components to the freestyle stroke: Reach, Catch, Pull, Push, and the Recovery. As you can see in the video below, Phillip Toriello, a competitive swimmer and swim instructor, demonstrates these 5 basic steps. Some additional tips to consider:
- When reaching forward, don’t forget to rotate your chest/hips too. It will allow you to reach further forward, making your stroke smoother and more efficient.
- During the catch and pull, remember to keep your fingers/hands in a closed, slightly bent position instead of spreading your fingers apart. (I always tell my swimmers to think of their hands as spoons as opposed to forks.)
- In the recovery, don’t forget to bend your arm at the elbow! It’s much more efficient energy-wise, and will make it easier to stay afloat compared to if you swing your arms up completely straight.
- Try these freestyle drills to practice!
Muscles UsedAs mentioned before, swimming is a great way to increase your muscular strength and endurance. Freestyle utilizes many of your large muscle groups, which can translate to a higher quality of day-to-day life. As highlighted in the video below, some of the major muscle groups used during freestyle include your quadriceps, hamstrings, your biceps and triceps, and you’re constantly using various core muscles. Check out the chart below for a brief breakdown of those muscles and the actions they produce.
Part of Stroke
Daily Activities Used
Pointing your toes
Twisting your body
Opening a door
|Latissimus Dorsi||Lower Back||Pulling something towards you|
Swinging your arms
|Shoulder||Raising your hand|
|Forearm||Pointing your fingers|
Shooting a basketball
Twisting your arm
|Back||Pull- ups/ Chin-ups|
|Arm||Bending at the elbow|
Shrugging your shoulders
|Mid/lower Back||Bent over row|
Crossing arm over body
|Shoulder||Getting a box from a shelf|
|Arms||Hitting a tennis ball|
Swinging a bat
Written by Mckinzie Halkola, Fitness Intern at Elite Sports Club – Brookfield