What is freestyle in swimming

Many swimmers consider the freestyle stroke as the fastest and most efficient way of swimming. When properly executed, a lot of distance can be covered without taking too much energy from the swimmer.

Traditionally, the Freestyle technique allowed competitors to swim any style they wanted. Over time, the Front Crawl gave swimmers the fastest speed, so it became their most preferred style in competitions. It is for this reason that the “freestyle” technique became incorrectly synonymous to the Front Crawl stroke.

The front crawl is based on the Trudgen, a swimming method that evolved from the “Sidestroke” technique. It was further improved by Richmond Cavill, an Australian who used this stroke during the 1902 International Swimming Championship in England. He set a new world record by swimming 100 yards in 58.4 seconds.

Keep in mind that Freestyle swimming is not only limited to the front crawl. Swimmers have the freedom to choose other styles, such as the Sidestroke and Dog Paddle. Stand-alone or individual Freestyle competitions also allow other officially-regulated strokes, such as the Butterfly, Breaststroke, and Backstroke. However, it’s not permitted for medley swimming competitions.

Despite this, the Front Crawl is still the most well-used technique in Freestyle competitions. It combines speed and efficiency well because it requires less body movement, allowing swimmers use less energy for each stroke they make. It’s still the the fastest technique compared to other styles even today. No wonder it’s almost exclusively used during the Olympic Games.

Rules for Freestyle Competition

  1. Freestyle swimmers may swim any style they want except during medley relay or individual medley events.
  2. Some part of the swimmer must touch the wall as soon as they complete each length (and at the finish).
  3. Some part of the swimmer must be on the surface of the water during the competition, except when they break in the water during the start of the race and when they submerge during each turn.
  4.     Practicing all these steps requires patience. Master each step first before proceeding to the next level. Practice each step in isolation, so in this case, start with your pushing and gliding first. Once you’ve mastered them, proceed to practicing your kicks and then your arms, and then practice correct breathing, and proper posture.

How to Do the Freestyle Swimming Technique

  1. Push and glide.

Once you’re in the pool, start by pushing off from the wall of the pool. Stretch your arms straight in front of you like you were diving, and glide as far as you can go. Your legs should be straight and close together. Push your chest down into the water and level out your legs. Your face should be looking straight down the pool and your body posture straight.

  1. Do the kicks.

Once you’re settled in, add your kick while keeping your body and legs straight (but not locked) and relaxed. Don’t bend the knee, and kick gently from the hip. Your feet should only be moving, while keeping your legs relatively motionless. Your big toes should brush each other as you kick your feet in an upward-downward motion. Keep your ankles relaxed while doing this.

  1. Move the arms.

Once your arm enters the water, your body and head should rotate towardsthe side so you can breathe. Rotating your body is the trickiest and most important part here, since relaxed breathing and efficient use of energy all come from good body rotation.

  1. Practice correct breathing.

This is often the most difficult part to master. Once you perform step 3, exhale slowly underwater—around 70% on your mouth and 30% on your nose. Make sure that no air remains when you exhale. This way, you’re ready to inhale as soon as your face rotates out of the water.

Once you learn these basic steps, then it’s time to put them all together in one synchronized motion.

  1. Start with your arms.

The freestyle swimming technique starts when your hand cuts right through the water.  With your elbow above your hand, extend your arm forward as your body rolls to the side. Your shoulder blades should be rolled back.

  1. Do the back sweep motion.

Bring your forearm and hand under your body while sweeping in a downward motion. Your hand should be grabbing hold of the water in a back sweep motion, pushing it behind you so you can move forward. You should also be rolling back to the other side while doing this.

  1. Recover.

Once you hand exits the water near your hip, roll your body to the side. Turn your head and inhale as you prepare your arm to take its next stroke. Avoid lifting your head while doing this. Just do a slight turn and allow your forward motion to create a small wave that gives you a pocket of space to inhale. Make sure that your kick is in constant rhythm and your ankles relaxed. Your knees should be straight but not locked, and your gluteus muscles and feet doing most of the work when doing your kicks.

Once you’re confident with each part, begin to incorporate everything you’ve learned. It’s best to ask coaches to correct your mistakes–they will help you refine your movements. Their guidance will be a tremendous value in the long run, because they will motivate you to continue improving your skills until you master the Freestyle technique on your own.