Freestyle Swimming Tips: Don’t Glide

If you learned to swim freestyle (front crawl) during the 80s or 90s then you might well have been taught to deliberately pause and glide at the front of the stroke. To help combat this, our partners at Swim Smooth have come up with some great freestyle swimming tips to help iron out this particular flaw in your technique.

What’s the Issue?

As you enter and extend forwards, swim coaches and teachers used to tell you to try and stop in this position for a short while:

freestyle swimming tips

In fact, you can still find some swim coaches who teach this today. The idea was that you could travel that bit further on that stroke but we now understand that by trying to do this you are seriously limiting your speed and efficiency in the water.

It’s not how elite athletes swim either. Take a look at Rebecca Adlington swimming with her beautiful smooth freestyle stroke. Notice in this frame how she’s just finishing her stroke at the back with her left arm:

freestyle swimming tips

Just 0.15 seconds later she already starting her next stroke at the front with her right arm:

freestyle swimming tips

When you swim like this you are not aware of any gap between your strokes – it feels like you are stroking smoothly and continuously from one stroke to the next without any perceptible pause at the front.

Freestyle Swimming Tips: Avoid Gliding

Water is 800 times denser than air, which means when you try and glide without any propulsion, even for a short while, you simply slow down and start to sink in the water.

Not only do you lose speed while gliding but on the next arm stroke you have to re-accelerate your whole body mass back up to speed again. This accelerate-decelerate-accelerate-decelerate action is very hard work indeed.

Freestyle Swimming Tips: Keep Your Movement smooth and fluid

You should still extend the lead arm fully but instead of pausing at the front of your stroke, keep moving your lead hand smoothly and continuously: extending, tipping downwards and then pressing the water back behind you.

You are not hurrying things or being aggressive – keep your movement fluid and continuous.

Check out more swimming tips from Swim Smooth in this series of videos: