Freestyle Swimming: Improving Your Speed

Freestyle swimming is also referred to as the front crawl and the freestyle stroke. There are four competitive swimming strokes and the freestyle is the fastest one, as well as being the most popular among swimmers and triathletes.

With any type of stroke in swimming, mastering it takes practice and a lot of time in the water, unfortunately we can’t all be Michael Phelps (but we can still dream).

Evidently, the freestyle stroke has a big impact on performance and there’s a variety of different techniques you can use to be faster in the pool. You can beat competition by having a clean swimming technique and the determination to succeed in freestyle swimming. So, shall we get started?

Head Position

Keep Your Head In Line With Your Spine

It’s essential that you keep your head in line with the rest of your body and look towards the bottom of the pool. Although your first instinct would be to look forward, it causes your hips to drop and creates resistance in the water. This means you have to kick harder which leads to reduced energy and oxygen levels.


Your kicking technique contributes heavily to your overall performance as it’s where you generate most of your propulsion. It powers your stroke and helps develop your hip rotation. You should kick from the hip with a straight leg, you may notice a microbend but that’s a natural occurrence for any type of swimmer. To maintain a good kicking technique, your foot should slightly graze the top of the water.

If you’re freestyle swimming long distance, a two beat kick is ideal. This type of kick technique allows you to consume less oxygen and the need to breathe less often, compared to a six beat kick. A two beat kick is when you kick once per arm stroke for each side of your body.

Exhale Underwater

Submerge and Swim

Learning how to exhale continuously in the water is a skill that requires plenty of practice, especially for freestyle swimmers and their front stroke. It’s the key to maximising and enhancing your stroke performance.

There isn’t enough time to inhale and exhale sideways during arm recovery in the water, so it’s crucial to always exhale while your face is in the water. By breathing out continuously, it keeps your muscles more relaxed and improves overall swimming performance.

The High Elbow

Go high or go low

With a high elbow position, it enables you to keep a vertical forearm for a longer period of time. In order to keep your forearm vertical, you bend the elbow as high as possible underwater during the active pull phase. By doing this, you’re increasing your grip on the water and improving your propulsion.

Use Your Sides

Unleash more power

When your body is relaxed, it allows you to be more flexible and get your muscles to perform at their best. Roll your hips and shoulders from side to side over the stroke cycle, this engages the back muscles in addition to the shoulder muscles. This gives you additional strength and power to be the quickest in the pool. Try it and find out!

Use Swim Tools & Tech

With swimming technology now, you are able to measure many metrics while you’re in the pool to allow yourself to improve and unlock your true potential. Although technology such as waterproof watches, tech suits, and high spec googles are on the list for every swimmer, simple learning tools such as floats and buoys, and even nose clips can greatly help in training. Nose clips particularly help those in freestyle swimming that are not fond of having water in their nose – this can help with relaxation.

All swimming techniques require practice and hours in the pool to perfect them. We hope our swimming tips are useful and help you master the art of front crawl speed. Alternatively, if you’re looking for swim suits to help you in the water, browse our swimwear range in full today.