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10 key swimming skills

10 most important swimming skills for improving front crawl technique by SWIM SMOOTH


  1. Breathing technique – Exhalation
    An important Swim Smooth philosophy is that you should be exhaling constantly whenever your face is in the water. Many swimmers think they do this, but very few actually do! A constant exhalation technique causes you to relax and when you do go to take a breath, you are fully exhaled and ready to breath in. This makes breathing much, much easier! More on
  2. Breathing technique – Bilateral inhaling
    Breathing bilaterally (breathing to both sides) is the simplest way to improve the symmetry of your stroke technique. Not only will you swim faster, but you will also swim straighter in open water. Swim Smooth recommends that you spend most of your training time breathing bilaterally to keep your stroke symmetrical. More on
  3. Breathing technique - Head position
    When you move through the water, you create a 'bow wave' with your head and body, just like a boat does. The shape of the bow wave means the water level drops along the side of your face. Breathe into the trough or “pocket”, and don't lift your head to inhale. Trying to lift or over-rotate your head to take a breath is a big mistake. Read more: More on
  4. Body rotation
    Body roll is fundamental to an effective freestyle technique, preventing shoulder injury, making breathing easier, lengthening your stroke and employing larger muscle groups. More on
  5. Strong and stretched core
    Your arm and kick action should be relaxed, but your core should be strong and engaged when you swim. This is a bit of a paradox about swimming – while trying to be relaxed, you also need to be strong through your core. Having a strong, stable core makes you more torpedo-like so you spear through the water in a straight line. More on
  6. Hand entry
    The best way to enter the water at the front of your stroke is one with a neutral relaxed shoulder - a flat hand with the palm facing down and slightly back, entering finger tips first. An added advantage of a flat hand entry technique is that it sets you up for a better catch phase. More on
  7. Catch technique
    A good catch will have you caressing the water, locking into and then pressing the water back behind you. Contrast this to what most swimmers do - pressing the water down at the front of the stroke rather than back. Pressing water down creates a lot of pressure on the palm because you are changing the direction of the water flow (from towards you to downwards). When you change to a good technique and start to pull the water back behind you - helping it on its way - you will actually feel less pressure on the palm. More on
  8. Pull technique
    PBending the elbow and pressing it back on the water with the forearm in a near-vertical position is what keeps your elbow high. Combined with good rotation, this pull through will lead to an efficient long stroke technique, but not one that is overly long. More on
  9. Stroke rate and stroke lengths
    When you're swimming, don't try and over-reach at the front of the stroke. It's better to have slightly less reach and a vastly better catch. It' will not only make things more efficient, but more rhythmical too. Swim Smooth suggests you find the right balance between stroke length and stroke rate. More on
  10. Freestyle kick
    Correct kick technique is from the hip with a straight relaxed leg. If you don't have an effective kick technique, you will create lots of drag, causing your legs to sink. However, elite freestyle swimmers with world class kicks only get a small fraction of their propulsion from their legs (about 10-15%). If you are triathlete or amateur swimmer, neglecting your kick entirely can have severe implications for your swim stroke. You are not looking for propulsion from your kick technique, but to keep your legs up high with minimum effort. More on



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