How to Swim the Front Crawl (Freestyle)

The front crawl is one of the most common types of swimming strokes for any form of swimming, whether it be competitive or casual. Often, the front crawl has been dubbed the “freestyle” stroke, as it is so commonly used that most swimmers automatically choose this stroke when entering in freestyle competitions.

A brief instruction on how to swim the front crawl can help you get more accustomed to this easy and super fast stroke. Remember to pay attention to your posture, as well as your breathing patterns while you practice this stroke. Before long, you will have mastered the front crawl as one of the most essential strokes in the swimming world.

Moving the Arms

To start off, you’ll want to get accustomed to how your arms are going to be moving. You’ll want to be sure to get used to two different actions - pulling and positioning. First, you’ll want to face your palms down and pull the water in the same direction as your body. Make sure your elbows are slightly bent as you pull to the side of your thigh.

Once you are in this position, you will switch to a recovery phase. With your hand close to your thigh, lift one arm out of the water with your elbow bent at a 90-degree angle. The other arm should be completely submerged. Then, reach forward with the bent elbow arm, and submerge it fingertips-first. Then you will switch to the other side and continue the same process.

Moving the Legs

Keep your ankles as relaxed as possible. You’ll want your feet to be flexible so that you don’t injure yourself while you move into certain positions. This looseness can also help you maintain speed and precision with your front crawl.

Moving the legs is possibly the simplest part of the front crawl stroke altogether. Once you get the hang of it, it will feel like a completely natural movement to you. You’ll want to be sure to point your toes completely behind you, so that you are in a position similar to one a ballerina would have. With toes pointed underwater, start to kick up and down continuously. Kick from the thigh downward, alternating which leg is up in the air at one time. It is almost like walking forward, but in a horizontal position.

Make sure your legs are completely straight out behind you when you kick. This is the most correct way to do it; otherwise, you could risk landing on something painful or damaging your body position altogether.

How to Breathe

Focusing on your breathing patterns while trying to coordinate your arms and legs can be difficult, but you’ll achieve it with some practice. The way you choose to breathe can impact the success and speed of your front crawl. Essentially, you’ll first want to determine whether you are left or right-handed. This will determine the side of your body that you turn your head towards when you breathe.

When your hand is in phase two of the arm positioning, you will want to turn your head to the side of your choice and take a breath. Try to take a breath just for one second before putting your head back in the water again. And remember not to lift your head while trying to breathe, as this can harm your body position. Instead, just let your head roll to one side or the other for a quick breath.

Additional Tips

It’s important to keep your arms and legs moving simultaneously, and without stopping. This is the best way to enhance and maintain a great front crawl.

Take a breath with each stroke of the arm, and exhale when the arm re-enters the water. Getting used to this pattern can help you master your front crawl!

Remember to stretch your body as long as you can, with arms in front of you and legs behind you, to get the most power in your stroke and to help you achieve faster speeds.