What is Front Crawl Swimming?

Man performing the front crawl swimming stroke

The front crawl is known as the fastest swimming style that can be swum. It is sometimes called the:

  • Australian crawl

  • The American crawl

  • or the freestyle

How to swim front crawl

When a person swims in the front crawl position their chest allows for their arms to have good flexibility in the water unlike other swimming styles such as the backstroke which limit’s the arms mobility.

During the front crawl the arms alternate back and forth which gives the swimmer speed through the water in a nice rolling motion. The front crawl is also easier on the body then other swimming styles and is easier to recover from after a long and hard swim.

To swim the front crawl one must first understand how it works. The first position is called the Freestyle or streamline position. This is where the body is positioned on the stomach with both arms extended out in front of the body and both legs extended out behind the body.

The movement of the arms alternates from one arm to the other. One arm will be pushing/pulling while the other arm recovers. The body is propelled forward mostly by the power of the arms which is separated into three different parts: the pull, the push and the recovery.

When the front crawl is begun the arm will sink down a bit and the palm of the hand should turn to a 45 degree angle with the thumb turned in towards the palm. This helps the hand to catch the water better and pull the body forward. When the arm is out in front of the body it will pull the body forward through the water.

As the arm extends down towards the side of the body it begins the push part of the motion pushing the water back and away from the body. Then that arm enters recovery while the other arm goes through the same motion.

The leg movement of the front crawl is equally as important

The leg movement during the front crawl is equally as important as the arm movements. The type of kick that is used during the front crawl is the flutter kick. During the flutter kick the legs alternate movement with one leg moving down while the other is moving up and vice versa.

While most of the speed of the front crawl is done by the arms the legs provide the stability the body needs to continue with the swim. The legs should only bend very slightly at the knee and kick out in a similar way to kicking a football.

How to breath when performing the front crawl

During the front crawl the face will remain in the water with the eyes to the lower part of the pool wall and the waterline between the brow and the hairline. Swimmers breath by turning their head to the side of the recovering arm at the start of the recovery. When it is done right a bow wave will appear with a trough in the water near the swimmers ears.

This is the area in which the swimmer can then breath without breaking their stride in swimming or slowing down at all. Competitive swimmers will usually breath once every few strokes or a certain amount of times during a race with every move being calculated and planned out ahead of time.

When a swimmer reaches the end of the pool during the front crawl they will use a flip or tumble turn to change directions in the fastest possible manner. This is done with one arm forward and one arm to the back. The swimmer does a somersault with the knees straight to the body. The feet end up against the wall which the swimmer then pushes away from and begins to swim in the other direction.

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