Freestyle is commonly regarded as the main stroke in the sport of swimming. It’s usually the stroke most people recognize no matter their knowledge or experience with swimming.
It’s important to have a good freestyle, because it serves as a base for helping you learn other strokes in the future.
Freestyle is the fastest of the four strokes. It involves a steady kick while pulling with your arms one by one to move you forward through the water. Here are some things to focus on when learning freestyle:
Before anything else, you need to have the proper body position in order to have an effective freestyle. The best freestylers are able to lay on top of the water as flat as possible. Head pointed down, in line with the rest of their body. Similar to basically every stroke in swimming, if your head isn’t flat it’ll cause your hips to sink. Practice keeping your body straight on top of the water, try to minimize as much drag as possible.
You’ll want your hands to enter the water with your fingertips first, palms facing down. The pulling motion is straight down and back. Think of carrying as much water as possible in your hands and throwing it behind you. Make sure to bend your elbow slightly in order to use your forearm for propulsion as well.
Don’t rely solely on your hands. Every inch of surface area on your arm, forearm, and hand can be used to carry water and move you forward. Of course, the pull is done one arm at a time, with the recovery arm coming back over and around to repeat the cycle.
Opposite of butterfly, kicking in freestyle is done with a flutter kick. Basically, one foot at a time. Make sure to keep these kicks tight together and quick. A large portion of freestyle rhythm is drawn from a steady, powerful kick. Try to use your entire leg to kick. This is much more efficient than solely bending at the knees.
You can even try a 6-beat kick. Basically, 6 kicks per arm cycle. 1 arm cycle is 2 strokes. This will help you keep momentum and develop a rhythm.
To breathe during freestyle, tilt your head sideways to take a sip of air. For beginners, it may seem impossible not to take a massive gulp of air. As you become more comfortable, work on spending less time taking your breath. The quicker you can make your breath, the better. The best swimmers are able to quickly work their breath into their stroke without delaying their arm cycle or pausing for an extended period of time. A good rule of thumb for beginners is taking 1 breath every 3 strokes.
Overall, freestyle is one of the most important strokes, it serves as a foundation for all swimming movements and develops swimmers in many different key areas. As is with every stroke, remember to stay loose and relaxed in the water. Swimming is easiest when you move with the water, instead of attempting to fight it.
With ample practice, you’ll perfect the freestyle stroke much sooner than you think.