Swimming Freestyle Techniques - The Basics

by Pool Builders on 08-11-2011 in Articles

Training for triathlons I have now been swimming freestyle for 8 years and have come to the conclusion that for the average swimmer the same basic techniques apply for any distances from 400 metres upwards. Training should become geared towards building endurance for swimming longer distances by developing a consistent and correct technique, one based around achieving a greater freestyle stroke efficiency. This in turn should enable you to swim faster over longer distances using less energy than you are probably using today, especially if you are struggling to swim just a few lengths. I am certainly not the best swimmer out there but I have learnt over time that it is only once you learn the fundamental swimming freestyle techniques that you will begin to swim for longer with less effort whilst developing a smooth, fast and powerful stroke.

Initially you should try to visualize your current swimming stroke (maybe ask someone you know to watch you), and then ask yourself whether you are doing the following:

Are you swimming "clever": Distance swimming is not about just practicing length after length in the pool. It should be based more on endurance and economy of stroke than on distance and speed alone, something that you can enhance by learning some basic techniques that you may have ignored or forgotten in the past. Take another look at your arm entry, body rotation, kick and breathing and find some drills that will enable you to practice these key elements of your stroke.

Can you reduce your number of strokes: With an improved technique leading to a longer and smoother stroke you should be able to reduce the number of strokes you take over a specific distance. Less strokes = more efficiency = less energy used.

Is your training to intense: Training should in the main be at a moderate intensity, not 'flat out'. Try to maintain a consistent pace throughout much of your practice sessions whilst trying to establish a rhythm to your stroke. Do not worry to much about speed, as your stroke efficiency increases so should your speed and you will naturally go faster.

How's your body position and breathing: Try to develop a consistent and correct body position. This should be with your face and top of your head in the water with your chest pushing down, which will naturally allow your legs to be higher in the water. Once you have a basic body position this will enable you to breathe more easily during your stroke; to the side and underneath the arm as it executes the stroke without raising your head. Try to develop more than one pattern and breathe bi-laterally if possible. A good breathing technique allows for a smooth stroke as you are no longer feeling breathless or struggling for air.

Do you have the correct equipment: There is a lot of training equipment out there all promising to make you swim faster and better. I have tried some of these and it ultimately personal preference but over the years these are the items that to me are a must have:

  1. A good pair of swimming goggles (you will never develop a good body position and breathing pattern if your face is out of the water).
  2. A good pair of swimming trunks (you will not get far in a baggy pair of beach shorts).
  3. A swimming cap (especially if you have longer hair)
  4. Ear plugs and/or nose clip (these will help if you are unsure about putting your face in the water)
  5. A pair of Fins (these will enable you to develop your stroke without having to worry about your kick).
  6. Floats (both Kick boards and Pull Boys to help develop the correct body position).

The key is learning and practicing the correct swimming freestyle techniques and understanding the fundamentals of freestyle swimming which then become second nature. You can then begin to apply these consistently during your training routines.

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