• HEAD AND BODY POSITION: You should be looking straight down at the bottom of the pool. Your body should rotate gently from side to side on every stroke to increase the length and depth of your pull.
  • KICK: Your kick is your motor! You need to maintain a strong flutter kick throughout the entire stroke. Especially be sure to “kick through the breath.”
  • ARMS: Use the entire length of your arm to get the best pull possible. Your hand should enter the water thumb-first and finish at your thigh. Think of “grabbing” the water and moving it behind you.
  • BREATHING: The key to taking quick breaths is to exhale under water (blow bubbles!) and inhale quickly when you turn your head to the side. Learn to breathe on both sides to promote balanced muscle development.
Swimmer doing freestyle

Official Rules for Freestyle

It’s pretty hard to get DQ’d in freestyle. The rules are very simple:

  • You must touch the wall at the end of every lap (this is true of all strokes)
  • You must stay on the surface after 15m (this is true of all strokes)
  • You can do any stroke

Freestyle Drills

Catch-Up Drill
  • Description:  Start in streamline position. Leaving one hand extended in front, do a complete pull with the other arm. Finish the pull by “tagging” the extended arm. Then switch arms and pull with the other hand. One arm is always “catching up” with the other arm. You should feel like your body is very long and extended.
  • Purpose: In an efficient freestyle, the pulling arm should be moving more slowly than the arm recovering outside the water. This means one arm is catching up to the other arm, and the arms aren’t always opposite one another during the cycle. This drill reinforces that concept.
Flick Drill or Splashback Drill
  • Description: While swimming freestyle, flick your wrist as your hand passes your hips and completes the pull, splashing water behind you.
  • Purpose: Many swimmers lose power by not pulling all the way past their hips, and this drill emphasizes the importance of finishing the pull.
Hybrid Drill
  • Description: This is a combination of the Catch-Up Drill and the Flick Drill.
  • Purpose: This combines the best elements of the two drills above, with a focus on extending the arm forward as far as possible as the hand enters the water, and finishing the stroke past the hips.
Fist Drill
  • Description: Swim regular freestyle, but close your hands into fists.
  • Purpose: In swimming, we talk about “feel” — you need to feel the water. This drill lets you think about how to get the maximum pull without using your hand, and encourages you to find a good arm and elbow angle at the beginning of the pull.
6-Kick Drill
  • Description: From streamline position, take one stroke and rotate onto your side with one hand outstretched in front and the other down by your hips. Count six kicks, and then take the next stroke, switching arm positions. Repeat, and remember that your kick should not stop even while rotating from side to side.
  • Purpose: The goal of this drill is to work on hip/body rotation during freestyle. Rotation is important because it allows you to reach further forward and finish further back, extending and maximizing each stroke.
Shark Fin Drill
  • Description: While swimming freestyle, pause before your hand enters the water and place the back of your hand against the side of your head. Your elbow should be as high as possible, pointing to the sky, so that your arm appears to make a “shark fin.”
  • Purpose: This drill helps teach the high elbow/bent arm recovery used in freestyle. As an added benefit, it teaches you to rotate from side to side as you swim, kicking throughout the cycle. Plus, it’s fun to swim like a shark!
Fingertip Drag Drill
  • Description: Swim regular freestyle, but during the recovery (when your arm is out of the water, returning to start another pull), drag the tips of your fingers on the surface of the water.
  • Purpose: This drill reinforces the “pretty” bent arm recovery for freestyle.
Zipper Drill
  • Description: Swim regular freestyle, but drag your thumb along your side during the recovery. Pretend you’re pulling a zipper along the side of your body.
  • Purpose: As with Shark Fin drill and Fingertip Drag drill, this teaches rotation and the bent arm recovery.Save