How to swim front crawl effortlessly
Updated: Mar 30
How to Swim Front Crawl effortlessly using these 7 tips
Whether its competing in your first triathlon or swimming more efficiently than ever before, here are 7 tips to help you swim Front Crawl effortlessly:
1. Distance per stroke - It's not how many strokes you make but more about how far each stroke takes you. As in many cases, less is more. By pulling stronger and longer with each arm pull, you will increase you're distance travelled and consume less energy (consider how the same principle applies to rowing next time you watch this on TV).
2. Roll the shoulders - Rolling the shoulders and twisting your body will not only help to reduce your body's resistance through the water but also make it easier to breathe. Rolling the shoulders also increases the length of each arm pull and in turn improves the point made above (point 1).
3. Go steady with the legs! - Although a strong leg kick can add a significant contribution to your overall forward momentum through the water, it can also require a considerable amount of your energy to sustain. This is not a problem when sprinting over shorter distances, but when it comes to a long distance endurance swim, you should allow the arms to do the majority of the work maintaining a little assistance from the legs.
4. The 3 R's of breathing - Regular, Relaxed and Rhythmical. Often people tend to take every breath above the water as though it were their last. This can result in unnecessary tension through the stroke and rapidly running out of air. Avoid gasping huge lungfuls of air and instead breathe with a 'little and often' approach. Just think about how you might breathe when running or cycling along a flat road - it would be using the 3 R's but often we'll do this subconsciously.
5. Bi-lateral or not bi-lateral, that is the question? - Breathing every 2 or 4 strokes or instead bi-laterally using 3 or 5 strokes always sparks debate amongst swimmers. Ultimately it's up to you but if you breathe bi-laterally every 3 strokes instead of 2, you are undoubtably prolonging the time between each breath and hence have a greater chance of moving into hypoxia (oxygen debt). However, having the trained ability to comfortably breathe bi-laterally can be a great advantage when swimming in open water events such as triathlons, as this greater vision can help you to keep an eye on the other opponents as well as any course direction landmarks either side of you. As a practiced swim drill within your training sessions, bi-lateral breathing can help you to keep your stroke balanced ensuring maximum efficiency and power output from both sides of your body.
6. It's all in the timing - Beautiful, effortless swimming often owes this accolade to the timing of the arms. If the arm pace is too fast the stroke looks windmill-like and thrashes through the water consuming plenty of energy along the way. If it's too slow, momentum is lost and each stroke feels like a hard slog. Picture the action of a bow and arrow. When one arm pulls back, the other should be entering the water and reaching forwards then visa versa, constantly working in unison to keep the momentum of the stroke 'topped up' and fluid.
7. Feedback and practice - No matter how much we try, it's impossible to watch yourself swim without someone else helping out. Either a friend filming for you to watch the instant feedback or by seeking support through a swimming coach, feedback and correction is one of the most important ingredients to skill acquisition and improvement. Practice, practice, practice is the other! Whatever you do, make sure you enjoy the journey in getting there. Happy swimming everyone.
For more guidance on how to perfect your Front Crawl technique and more download the series of swimming books by Mark Durnford.