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In a short, 6 week season like the one we deal with in high school swimming, the surest and quickest way to get fast is threefold:

  • know how to start fast
  • know how to finish properly
  • improve your technique

The links to the side and below will help you with that.


Of course, when I say "freestyle" I mean FRONT CRAWL which has always been the fastest stroke.

There's a progression to learning freestyle (and the backstroke) properly. Each step before it is like a pyramid base or foundation. You CANNOT work on the steps lower down until you've mastered the steps above! These are:

  1. good BODY POSITION in the water; kick keeps legs on top and head in water, body stretched.
  2. good BREATHING: this can't be emphasised enough as breathing is in my experience the single biggest impediment to improving stroke and times
  3. good CADENCE in terms of moving arms in relation to each other, kicking with your arm pulls and breathing at the right times
  4. good ROLL: body must roll into water during power phase of stroke to maximize efficient stroke
  5. good STROKE ENTRY and EXIT: hand must enter angled and reach forward before the pull. Exit needs to be by the hips, not the waist.
  6. good S-PULL and ARM RECOVERY: ultimately, THIS is where you get your power, and this is why we work so hard on sculling, people!

A great clip to start is Mr. Michael Phelps doing freestyle. However, he has a bit of a quirk to his stroke which works for him (can you notice it?). This is rather important to note; ultimately technique is important but there are many world class swimmers who don't swim completely textbook, and YOU can be fast regardless of a few stroke "picadillos".


Here is a clip of Japanese swimmer Hagiwara Tocomo doing the backstroke. Beautiful upper body technique and an AMAZING streamlined start/transition.

The next video features a US swimming clip of Michael Phelps doing a start and a length of backstroke. Phelps has some of the most amazing starts and turns in the swim world; if you start like this you will win hands down.


Here again is a good clip of the arm motion of Hagiwara Tocomo doing breaststroke. Note the high, bent elbows.

The cadence is important in breaststroke and has changed somewhat, in my way of thinking. Where it used to be, PULL BREATHKICK GLIDE, it's now more a PULL BREATH KICKGLIDE. Today's breaststrokers are now allowed to submerge the head, and so are getting more of a higher powered pull and longer glide. A longer clip of the breast stroke breakdown can be found here. The difference is the power phase of the kick is executed when the head is now submerged and the body streamlined to glide.


This is a good article on some of the key points.