Learn how to swim freestyle!

Training & Technique
Written by: arena coaches at 5 June '15 0
You are reading: Learn how to swim freestyle!

Level: beginner

When we swim the “freestyle” we simply grasp the water in front of us with our hands and push it behind our body with alternate arm strokes in order to move forward, just as if we were crawling across the water.

Historical Overview

The freestyle is the oldest method of moving forward through the water after styles similar to the breaststroke; Roman warriors used to prepare for battle by performing swimming exercises very similar to the modern-day freestyle stroke: an alternating arm movement accompanied by a constant leg kick.



You must keep your body as straight as possible “with your belly downwards”, so as to create as little drag as possible as you move forward.


The surface of the water should roughly coincide with your hairline, keep your head down looking at the bottom of the pool just a few metres in front of your body. The more often you raise your head to see where you are going, the greater the drag and slower your speed.


The leg kick helps stabilise your body and ensure good buoyancy rather than forward motion. The legs kick up and down alternately with your knees bent. As you breathe, your legs push sideways to counteract the negative effect on your body alignment of the arm recovery phase. Coordinating your arms and legs  is important: we recommend 6 leg kicks for each set of arm strokes.


Your arms “rotate” alternately in a three-phase movement:

  • Catch: your hand should enter the water at an angle of 45° extending it as far forward as possible.
  • Pull: after bending your elbow to an angle of approximately 90° to push it downwards, pull backwards in order to move forwards.
  • Recovery: having completed the pull phase, bend your elbow so as to raise your arm out of the water ready to move it forwards again.


Breathe to the side by rotating your head every 2 or more strokes.


The turn is performed by means of a forward somersault allowing you to change direction at the end of each lap of the pool. Having completed the somersault you will find yourself  on your back with your feet against the wall and your head and arms underwater. From this position you will push forward by extending your legs with your arms stretched out in front of your body, twisting your body to return to a prone position.

The freestyle should allow you to move through the water with less effort and more speed: in a nutshell, more bang for your buck!


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arena coaches

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