Front crawl catch

Last Updated on August 1st, 2023

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Front crawl is, for many, the easiest swimming stroke to learn. However, that doesn’t mean learning the correct form isn’t important. 

On the contrary, adopting the proper technique, especially for arm movements, is critical. This is because the arm stroke is responsible for up to 90% of the forward motion in the front crawl stroke.

To improve your swimming speed and efficiency, you should learn and understand all of the stages needed to swim the front crawl properly. In this article, we’ll discuss the catch phase. 

The catch phase is the first phase of the arm stroke. If you don’t develop this critical stage, you can feel like your body is working hard but not gaining any momentum through the water. 


What is the Front Crawl Catch?

The front crawl catch is the first stage of your freestyle stroke. At this point, your hand enters the water and starts the underwater part of your stroke. At this point, your hand in front begins to apply pressure on the water. 

Once this arm is ahead, the catch is started by moving your arm in a downward motion. You should also push your arm outward to some degree.

The front crawl catch is frequently referred to as the introduction of the pull phase. Because of this, the front crawl catch impacts the rest of your front crawl stroke. 

The benefit of mastering this phase of the front crawl is that you will drag a larger amount of water behind you. This increases the distance you travel per stroke. As a result, your front crawl technique becomes much more efficient. 

It can sometimes be tricky for beginner swimmers to grasp when the catch should actually begin and to execute it correctly. 

Simply, it can be described as the moment in which your arm is straight and lined up with your shoulder once you’ve begun to move your arm backward. 


How to Do the Front Crawl Catch Properly?

Now that we’ve established the front crawl catch let’s understand how to perform the catch correctly. The following are your objectives for a successful and efficient catchphrase:


  • Keep your fingers together, but relaxed- as your hand enters the water, move your hand from a horizontal position and start to angle it more towards the bottom of the pool.


  • Try to catch the water as soon as you can whilst maintaining a smooth entry to the water.


  • As the catch happens with your palm and your forearm, you should keep your elbow flexed to keep your forearm in a high position. A slight flex at the wrist is also suggested to help you maintain this elbow position throughout your catch.


  • Imagine your nose is the centerline. Make sure your arms don’t cross over this line when performing the catch.


  • Just as importantly, you want to ensure your arms are not going outside your shoulder’s line. To perform the front crawl catch correctly, your arm should be in line with your shoulder.


The catch is complete once your hand and forearm are in the correct position. You are now ready to get a good hold on the water and make the pull.


Tips for Improving Your Front Crawl Catch

Here are a few tips that will help you improve your front crawl catch: 

The essence of a great catch is to be precise and smooth with your movements. It can be useful to imagine there’s a still body of water that’s not moving, and you should aim to get hold of that water and pull yourself through.

The front of the stroke should not be hurried. Instead, you should focus your attention on the hand that completes the push phase, as this generates the most momentum. If you rush the front end, you’re more likely to disrupt the push stage. 

Your pushing hand will depart early as a result of this, leading to a shorter stroke and a decrease in force. These are some things to keep away from to improve your front crawl catch: 


  • A long glide at the front when your arm first enters the water
  • Using too much power to grab the catch
  • Fast and jerky motions during the catch
  • Keeping your hands pointed upward when you enter the water
  • Not bending your elbows enough 
  • Keeping your arms too straight in the catch
  • Not having your forearms at the right 90-degree angle
  • Tucking your elbows in towards your body


Final Thoughts on Front Crawl Catch

The catch is essential to swimming well in the front crawl stroke. That’s why it’s important to understand that the catch is the first phase of your front crawl stroke, which sets you up for a successful pull phase. 

Although it might seem tough to master at first, if you follow these tips, you should be well on your way to faster and more efficient front crawl swimming.