Swimming is a lot of things. For some it’s a hobby, for some a job, for others just a skill, for some others it is a sport in which they compete, and so on. Thanks to all the variety that swimming has, there are many techniques and methods of swimming. Among them freestyle swimming is one of the most famous.
When you try to picture in your head someone swimming through a pool, chances are that you will visualize a person freestyle swimming. This is because it is this technique that is mostly depicted in the media, and for good reason.
Freestyle swimming looks elegant and effortless. Although in any other discipline freestyle means chaos, freestyle swimming is controlled and deliberate chaos.
What is freestyle swimming?
If you still don’t know exactly what we’re talking about, allow me to tell you a little bit more about. Freestyle swimming is a category of professional swimming that is mostly characterized by very few regulations in the manner in which the swimming strokes are performed.
In general terms freestyle swimming is the technique of swimming where you lay flat on top of the water, move your arms in circular motions, kick both your feet around, and move your head side to side to take breaths as you move forward. Basically freestyle swimming is the method everyone thinks of when trying to learn swimming.
Freestyle swimming is a great technique to learn. Freestyle swimming allows professionals to reach great amounts of speed and propulsion. For regular people freestyle swimming is great because it makes for a great exercise that strengthens our arms, back and chest muscles and also provides great fitness and cardiovascular benefits.
Basics of freestyle swimming
If you are just starting learning how to swim, eventually you will come across freestyle swimming. If you find swimming pleasing, there is a chance that you will find a desire within you to learn how to freestyle yourself.
As a beginner though, it can seem like too hard of a task. That is just your mind playing tricks on you. Just like everything else, even though at first freestyle swimming might seem like rocket science, once you get the gist of it, it becomes as easy as walking.
Some of the basics of freestyle swimming for beginners include:
The first thing you will need to start freestyle swimming is taking the adequate position. We already mentioned what this position looks like, but to be a bit more specific, you have to lay your body flat, with your back being on the surface.
Your head will be facing down and forward. There are even specific measures that some people use. For example there are coaches that will tell you to hold your vision underwater 3 to 6 feet in front of you. For our purposes it’s important that you just look forward and below.
When you throw yourself forward you will need to generate velocity to start moving. You will do this using both your legs and arms. Let’s look at the legs first. The first thing you need to understand is that you have to move your legs constantly if you don’t want to sink.
The motion is continuous and is switched from one leg to the other. The way you need to move your legs is similar to a kick. Start the movement from your hips and let the “kick-like” movements go through your entire limb, all the way to your feet.
You start from the hips and when you reach the knees, going up, the leg bends, then back again coming down the leg straightens. It’s important that you don’t stiffen your legs. Try to keep them relaxed.
Just like the legs, your arms will have to keep up constant and alternating movements. Start by raising your arm up and reaching forward. Before your arm is completely straightened, with your hands open, use your fingers to start dip your arms into the water.
Once under water, relax your hand and give it a slightly cupped shape. Then proceed to push the water behind and under you. All the way down to your hips. After that your arm goes back up, rotates and while bent to keep the elbow higher than the hand, you put the arm back into water, and repeat the cycle.
Breathing and things to avoid
Breathing in freestyle swimming takes place when the arm is out of the water. Turn your head to the side on which you have your arm raised, breath in, and then before getting your arm back into water, turn your head forward and go back to looking down and ahead.
Avoid stiffness at all cost, as it will make the freestyle impossible. Another mistake people often make when freestyle swimming is trying to generate the movement with their legs, without involving their hips, but instead only moving their knees. Although that may be good for sinking, it’s not so much so for freestyle.
Freestyle swimming is on top of everything else fun, and if you are in the middle of learning it, hopefully these basics will help you understand freestyle swimming even better.