Learn How to Swim Freestyle Faster – Swim Tips for Freestyle
Perfecting your freestyle swim technique is the answer for how to swim faster.
Learn how to swim freestyle faster by improving in each area of your freestyle technique. Then, put all the freestyle swimming techniques together for the fastest freestyle stroke.
- How to Swim Faster Freestyle by Improving Balance
- How to Swim Faster in Freestyle with Proper Breathing
- How to Swim Fast in Freestyle with Rolling
- Rolling Drills
- Freestyle Swimming Strokes Arm Technique
- Faster Freestyle Swimming Tips – Efficient Kicking
- Vertical Kicking Drill
- Transitioning from the Fly Kick to Freestyle
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Learn How to Swim Freestyle Faster
How to Swim Faster Freestyle by Improving Balance
Being balanced in the water will make you more streamlined and so will increase your speed. It is fundamental when you first learn to swim freestyle but is often neglected after that.
To improve balance in you swim freestyle technique, maintain a horizontal position. As horizontal as you can.
Except when taking a breath, keep your head down and your neck relaxed. Imagine you have a blowhole in the back of your neck that you have to keep open. Looking down (as opposed to forwards) will also help.
How to Swim Faster in Freestyle with Proper Breathing
Breathing while swimming (as opposed to holding your breath under-water) increases your stamina. This means you can swim faster for longer.
Start blowing out as soon as you finish inhaling and continue to do so until you take your next breath.
Experiment with breathing rhythms (e.g. take a breath every 3rd or 5th stroke) to see what works best for you. It may help to count your arm strokes (e.g., 1, 2, 3, 4, breathe) or whatever method you prefer.
It is important to completely exhale before taking your next breath so that you get rid of all the stale air. This increases your stamina and keeps you streamlined for longer. Every time you breathe you are breaking your streamlined position.
Keep as close as possible to your streamlined position while breathing. Do this by turning your head as opposed to lifting it out of the water. Your mouth only needs to be a little bit out of the water to inhale. Your eye line should be no higher than to the side. If you’re looking to the sky, you are turning your head way too much.
Breathing on alternate sides of your body (bilaterally) is a good habit.
Always inhale through your mouth, but try to exhale most of the air through your nose. This is especially true when turning/flipping to avoid getting water up your nose.
How to Swim Fast in Freestyle with Rolling
Roll from side to side with each arm stroke. This will engage your back muscles and improve propulsion.
Engage your core as you do it.
This drill is good for getting used to floating on your sides.
Float flat on your back and do a light flutter kick for propulsion. Keep your body straight with your arms at your sides. Apply downward pressure on the back of your head and on your shoulder blades so that your hips and legs buoy up.
Once you feel balanced in this position, do the following:
- Roll onto your side so that your top arm and some of your top thigh clear the water.
- Your head does not move while you roll on your side. Keep looking at the sky and roll your body as one.
- Continue to flutter kick.
Roll as far as you are comfortable. A 45° body roll is good for most people.
Practice this on both sides of your body.
Once you are comfortable with the above, advance by rolling to 90° so you face down.
Keep flutter kicking and keep balanced. Continue to roll in the same direction until you are in the 45° body position, but on your opposite side.
Remember to roll your whole body together. Don’t lead with your head.
When balanced, roll back the other way.
Freestyle Swimming Strokes Arm Technique
The freestyle stroke is in 4 parts. The catch, pull, exit, and recovery. These 4 stages occur and repeat in the order listed.
There is a more advanced arm stroke when learning to swim freestyle. The Early Vertical Forearm Position (EVF). It is harder to master, holds a greater risk of injury, and the gain in speed is minimal. It is more for elite competitive swimmers.
The following technique is like a non-extreme EVF.
The catch is when your hand first enters the water.
Create a “web” with your hand by spacing your fingers apart a little, about 30% of the diameter of one finger. Keep this spacing for the whole time.
As you roll your body, lengthen your arm out with your palm faced down. Angle your fingertips a little downward and flex your wrist. Point your middle finger in your direction of travel.
Enter your hand into the water fingertips first. Ensure your arm/hand does not cross your centerline.
Once your hand is in the water, bend your elbow and press back on the water. Your forearm is in a near-vertical position.
Do not push forward once your hand is in the water. It is better to go straight into the pull phase of the stroke.
It may help to imagine your arm is moving over a big ball.
You can use finger paddles to help you perfect your catch. Wear them loose. If you over-reach or have some other bad technique, the finger paddle will come off.
Another thing you can do is use a kick-board. Focus on a good catch with only one arm. The kickboard will prevent you from reaching forward.
The pull is the movement of your arm in the water down the length of your body.
After doing a good catch your elbow will be in the “high” position. Your elbow faces the sky and your palm faces to your rear. Keep this high elbow as you push the water behind you.
A good catch and pull is an easy, flowing feeling. You get great forward propulsion utilizing your pecs and lats.
This phase of your stroke is when your arm/hand leaves the water, a little past your hip.
It is important not to be too eager to bring your arm out of the water. Push beyond your hip as if you are trying to reach your knee. Using the same press-up motion you would when exiting a pool on the wall.
Do this push for the whole range of your pull, and as your thumb touches your thigh, flick the water out.
The recovery is the time when your arm is in the air. It flicks out of the exit and then re-enters into the catch.
It is best not to think about your recovery. Let it take its natural path. Your mental effort is better spent focusing on a great catch.
You can use stretch cords to practice all phases of your stroke on dry land. It is also useful for focusing on problem areas.
Faster Freestyle Swimming Tips – Efficient Kicking
A good kick is a compact one. It shouldn’t be too low nor break the water’s surface. Do not disturb your natural body alignment.
Move your feet/legs independently of each other. Push one down as you pull the other up. Putting energy into both the up and down strokes is important.
Use short, quick kicks with your whole leg, starting at the hip. Keep your legs long and straight, but not rigid. Have a slight, natural bend in your knees.
Point your toes behind you but keep your ankles relaxed. Only the bottom of your feet meets the water’s surface.
Find a rhythm that is comfortable and stick with it. Around 15 kicks every 10 seconds is good.
Vertical Kicking Drill
This vertical kicking drill will help to improve your flutter kick. It is also good for your dolphin kick.
Do this drill in deep water, but make sure you are near something you can hold onto when you get tired.
Be vertical in the water and do nothing but flutter kicking to keep your mouth and nose above the surface. You will be kicking hard. Concentrate on the correct kicking technique as described before.
Begin with your arms underwater and use a small sculling motion.
As you improve, try keeping your arms and hands tight against your body.
Advance further by raising your fingertips out of the water. Raise your arms higher and higher as you gain strength.
Transitioning from the Fly Kick to Freestyle
As you begin to surface begin to flutter kick and start to pull one of your arms down from the streamline position. Time the completion of your pull phase so that you arm exits the water as if you were doing freestyle all along. This takes practice.
Complete a few strokes before taking a breath and then continue into freestyle as normal.
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Freestyle is one of the fastest swimming strokes there is. And if you have good technique, it is the fastest stroke when swimming above water. It is important to practice each of these swim tips for freestyle on their own first. You will progress much faster this way as opposed to trying to do them all at once.
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