Mastering the Basics: Essential Techniques for Freestyle Swimming

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For many swimmers, the desire to swim faster and improve their freestyle speed is a constant goal. While mastering the basics of freestyle swimming is essential, there are several advanced strategies and techniques that can help you unleash your speed and take your swimming to the next level. In this article, we will discuss some of these strategies and provide you with tips to swim faster and more efficiently.

person swimming freestyle in a pool

Strategy 1: Work on Your Start and Turns

Starts and turns are critical components of a fast freestyle swim. Here are some tips to improve your start and turn technique:

  • Practice explosive starts by focusing on a powerful leg push-off and a streamlined body position.
  • Work on your underwater dolphin kick technique, as it plays a significant role in maintaining momentum during starts and turns.
  • Incorporate specific start and turn drills into your training routine, such as the track start drill or the open turn drill, to refine your technique and increase efficiency.

Strategy 2: Optimize Your Stroke Rate

Stroke rate, also known as tempo or cadence, refers to the number of arm strokes you take per minute. Optimizing your stroke rate can significantly impact your freestyle speed. Here’s how to do it:

  • Use a metronome or a swim watch with a stroke rate feature to monitor and adjust your stroke rate.
  • Experiment with different stroke rates to find the rhythm that allows you to maintain speed and efficiency without sacrificing technique.
  • Incorporate interval training into your routine, focusing on shorter distances at a higher stroke rate to improve your overall speed and power.

Strategy 3: Incorporate Interval Training

Interval training is an effective way to improve your speed and endurance in freestyle swimming. Here’s how to incorporate it into your training routine:

Strategy 4: Focus on Streamlining

Streamlining refers to minimizing drag and maximizing your overall efficiency in the water. Here are some tips to improve your streamlining:

  • Maintain a streamlined body position by keeping your head aligned with your body and extending your arms fully during the recovery phase.
  • Practice underwater dolphin kicks to enhance your streamline and reduce resistance during starts, turns, and breakout phases.
  • Incorporate streamline drills into your training routine, such as the streamline push-off drill or the streamline dolphin kick drill, to refine your technique and improve your efficiency.

Strategy 5: Fine-Tune Your Breathing

Breathing efficiently is crucial for maintaining a steady rhythm and speed in freestyle swimming. Here are some tips to fine-tune your breathing technique:

  • Time your breaths with your stroke rate, ensuring a smooth transition between strokes and breaths.
  • Experiment with different breathing patterns, such as every third stroke or bilateral breathing, to find the rhythm that works best for you.
  • Practice breath control exercises to improve your lung capacity and breath control, such as breath holding or progressive exhalation drills.

Strategy 6: Seek Feedback and Continuous Improvement

Seeking feedback from experienced swimmers or a coach can greatly accelerate your progress and help you identify areas for improvement. Here’s how to make the most of feedback:


Unleashing your speed in freestyle swimming requires a combination of advanced techniques, consistent training, and a growth mindset. By working on your starts and turns, optimizing your stroke rate, incorporating interval training, focusing on streamlining, fine-tuning your breathing, and seeking feedback, you can take your freestyle swimming to new heights. Remember to be patient, persistent, and enjoy the journey of continuous improvement. With dedication and the right strategies, you can swim faster and achieve your speed-related goals in freestyle swimming.

FAQs – Freestyle Swimming

Q1: How can I improve my breathing technique in freestyle swimming?

A1: Improving your breathing technique in freestyle swimming can be achieved through practice and focus. Some tips to improve your breathing include timing your breaths with your arm strokes, rotating your body slightly to the side while taking a breath, and practicing exhaling steadily through your nose or mouth while your face is in the water.

Q2: What can I do to increase my speed in freestyle swimming?

A2: Increasing your speed in freestyle swimming requires a combination of factors, including optimizing your stroke rate, improving your start and turn technique, incorporating interval training into your routine, and focusing on streamlining. Working with a coach or seeking feedback from experienced swimmers can also help you identify areas for improvement and fine-tune your speed.

Q3: How can I overcome a fear of water while swimming freestyle?

A3: Overcoming a fear of water while swimming freestyle can be a gradual process. Starting in shallow water and gradually progressing to deeper water can help build confidence. Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or visualization, can also help calm your mind and alleviate anxiety. Consider taking swimming lessons or working with a swim instructor who specializes in teaching individuals with a fear of water.

Q4: What are some common mistakes to avoid in freestyle swimming?

A4: Some common mistakes to avoid in freestyle swimming include crossing your arms over the centerline of your body, overreaching or rushing with your arm strokes, sinking or lifting your hips too high, and bending your knees excessively during the kick. Maintaining proper body alignment, focusing on technique, and seeking feedback can help you identify and correct these mistakes.

Q5: How can I improve my endurance in freestyle swimming?

A5: Improving your endurance in freestyle swimming can be achieved through consistent training and gradual progression. Gradually increase the distance you swim in each session, challenge yourself with interval training, and focus on maintaining a steady and consistent stroke cadence. Building endurance takes time, so be patient and celebrate incremental improvements along the way.

Q6: What should I do if I feel stuck or plateaued in my freestyle swimming progress?

A6: Feeling stuck or plateaued in your freestyle swimming progress is common in any sport. To overcome a plateau, consider incorporating variety into your training routine, setting specific and realistic goals, and seeking feedback from experienced swimmers or a coach. Analyzing your technique, experimenting with new drills or training sets, and maintaining a growth mindset can help you break through the plateau and continue improving.