Freestyle Swimming
Technique Myths...Busted

Here is a short list of some of the most common Freestyle Swimming Technique Myths that I come across in my research.

Read on to see my version of the "truth" behind these swimming myths and then...

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Freestyle Swimming Technique Myths:

Myth #1: You swim the freestyle (front crawl) on your belly.

  • The Truth: Yes, it’s called the front crawl, but this is a misnomer, which has led to several freestyle swimming technique myths. The proper technique in the freestyle or front crawl will have you rotating from side to side, not crawling flat on your belly.
Myth #2: The faster I spin my arms and the faster I kick my feet, the faster I will travel in the water.
  • The Truth: the speed at which you spin your arms or kick your feet, and the actual speed at which you travel through the water are not necessarily connected. Swimming is about how effieciently you are pulling, kicking, rotating, etc, rather than how fast you are moving your limbs. We’ve all seen the cartoons where the character is spinning his legs faster and faster, but not going anywhere. This is essentially what some swimmers are doing to themselves by associating forward speed with the speed of their arm recovery and kick. Not only is this a huge waste of energy, but you will never achieve your fastest times until you fight your intuition to kick and pull furiously. Swimming is in many ways counterintuitive to what we think would work on land. Sometimes in order to go faster in the water, we have to slow down. Now sure, there is a limit to this, but the tipping point for most people is much slower than they feel it should be. In other words, there will be a number of strokes, for example, that when dropped any lower, your speed will suffer, but for most people, they are operating at a much higher number of strokes per lap than is necessary to swim just as fast. If they stretched out more, worked more on their technique, rather than endurance, they would find the number that was most efficient for them, giving them the fastest time, with the least amount of effort. This is the ultimate goal of swimming and the real ticket to speed, no matter what level you are, from backyard novice to Olympic athletes.Click here for a drill you can play that will help you figure out what your ideal strokes per lap number is…
Myth #3: You’ll go faster if you cup your hands to pull.
  • The Truth:Just like you shouldn’t ball up your hands into a tight fist when you run, you don’t need to waste energy cupping your hands when you pull in swimming. It doesn’t add anything to the power of your pull and it’s more a waste of energy than anything else. Just keep your hands relaxed and focus your energy where it really matters, like your hip action.
Myth #4:Freestyle (Front Crawl): You twist your head to the side to breathe.
  • The Truth:This would be necessary if you swam flat on your stomach, but we already busted that myth above. Since you swim the front crawl by constantly rotating from side to side, when it’s time to take a breathe, you are not turning your head to the side so much as you are turning your whole body to the side and letting your head turn with it. Rotate your whole body to the air, don’t just twist your head.

What's Your Take on These Swimming Controversies?

Do you have a personal experience that would support or disprove one of these myths?

Have you heard of any scientific research that would help us prove or disprove one of these hotly debated issues?

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