Here’s a variety of freestyle swimming drills to make the stroke faster and more efficient. Even elite swimmers revisit these basics every so often to make necessary adjustments or strengthen weaknesses in their technique. Below are 5 freestyle swimming drills worth practicing regularly. Also, I’ve included two sample sets that I use often as a part of larger workouts.
1. Catch Up Freestyle Swimming Drill
Simplifies the stroke by creating less moving parts at once; also good for teaching the hands where to recover and practicing a tight streamline.
(hold hands in streamline; pull one arm at a time; return hand to streamline with the other hand before the other can initiate its pull; can also be performed holding the bottom of a kick board)
2. Side Kicking Freestyle Swimming Drill
Promotes a strong core to keep the hips up while laying on your side; also helps you become more comfortable rotating the shoulder and hips side to side while swimming; a happy bonus is that it’s very difficult to generate force by churning the surface of the water so it develops a stronger kick.
(holding the top-center of your kick board with one arm; lay on your side with your opposite hand atop your hip and your head resting on your extended shoulder so your bottom ear is in the water; kick while remaining on your side)
3. One-Arm Freestyle Swimming Drill
Simplifies the stroke by creating less moving parts at once; promotes balance by strengthening one side at a time.
(Starting in streamline; initiate pull with left arm while the other remains motionless; rotate left side up in the water as you finish the pull; rotate back to level as the left arm recovers; repeat same side for full length of pool)
4. FingerTip Drag Freestyle Swimming Drill
Keeps the weight of your arm closer to the surface of the water so as to not displace your body too deep; promotes a more efficient recovery of the hand back into the water.
(Swimming freestyle in normal rhythm; simply keep your elbow high as you drag your finger tips gently across the surface of the water during recovery)
5. Five-Beat Kick Freestyle Swimming Drill
A more advanced drill that builds on body rotation and the timing of your kicks (regular freestyle is a 3-beat kick).
(Swimming freestyle in normal rhythm except that you will kick five times quickly for every time you pull an arm; focus on body rotation and the timing of your breaths during the added time kicking; kicking should be on your side as in the side kicking drill with the kick board; can also be 7-beat kicking or any other number your choose)
Freestyle Swimming Drill Workout
“Kick/Drill – Drill/Kick”
- Kick with your board to the other end (25yd); leave it there.
- Then perform a drill on the way back to the start (50yd so far)
- Follow with a 25yd drill to get your board.
- Kick with board back to the start (100yd)
8×50’s Kick/Drill (odds) – Drill/Kick (evens)
-400 yards in total
“Kick – Drill – Swim” (KDS)
- This is done in 75yd increments; each 25yd within the 75yd swim has a different role.
- 1st 25yd= Kick with board; 2nd 25yd=Drill; 3rd 25yd=Swim.
- Leave your board at the other end of the pool after your first 25yd. It will be waiting for you to start your next 75yd on that side.
-600 yards in total
Written by Joe Janzen Elite Sports Club – Mequon Swim Coach & Personal Trainer
Joe has a B.S. in Exercise Science & Psychology from Carroll University (2008) and is certified with the National Strength and Conditioning Association as well as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He is a Member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association, High School Swim Coach, was a Middle School Teacher in South Korea, has a Brown Belt in Korean Special Forces Martial Arts, was a Rehabilitation Technician for physical therapy team and a NCAA swimmer. Joe spends his free time in or around the water, cycling, cooking, and playing recreational sports. He also enjoys exploring the great outdoors with his wife Lauren, and their fur child, Jordy. Joe’s philosophy is that “Through hard work, and progressing effective techniques you will set bigger goals, reach them faster, and have fun doing so.”