• Mark Durnford

Front Crawl body rotation

Updated: Mar 30


Swimming front crawl body roll has many benefits, for as many people may not appreciate, we must avoid staying flat on the surface of the water. By staying flat, I mean what I would see if someone were lying on a surfboard paddling out to sea - stationary body, arms moving independently of the body. Rolling the body begins with the entry and reach of the arm. As the arm extends and reaches forward, so should you roll the same side shoulder forwards. If you are not breathing with this particular stroke then you need to keep the head stationary and facing down with eyesight slightly ahead, allowing the upper body and shoulders to pivot around the head. Repeat this to each side every time a stroke is performed. As the shoulder and arm extends forwards the upper body rolls to the side allowing this arm extension to go further. It is ok for the hips to pivot in conjunction with the shoulders. The opposite shoulder will exit the water as the arm on this side also exits and begins the over water recovery phase. In the previous section we discussed the over water recovery phase, and I encouraged you to use a high elbow keeping the hand low and close to the water. This effective recovery phase is an impossible task if you do not roll the body. Therefore one of the benefits of rolling the body is the support it offers towards setting up an efficient recovery phase. Other benefits associated with rolling the body in Front Crawl are as follows:

Greater distance per stroke - By effectively extending the arm reach further than it normally would go, you are starting and finishing each pull from greater distances apart. Therefore creating and longer a pull and hence moving further with each stroke.

Reduce drag through the water - simple physics would suggest that if you are moving through the water closer to the position of being 'side on' then you are applying less surface area force against the water and making moving through it easier and faster. Keeping the body and shoulders square on to the water in Front Crawl is going to create more drag and cause you to slow down and work harder.

Breathe easier - most of the setup for breathing comes from the body roll. It is almost impossible for your mouth to clear the water using the correct head position if you fail to roll the body enough. Therefore, perform an effective roll and you will be setting up a great position to breathe with little effort required from the head turn itself.

This should be a gentle roll to each side. Avoid over rolling as correcting yourself before rolling to the opposite side will slow you down. I often see and hear people saying exactly what I have just mentioned above, but without ever describing what constitutes an over roll. Focus on what you wish to achieve by rolling the body, and if by rolling further you do not reap any further of those rewards it is likely that you are over rolling. Here's out to do it:


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