What is the Freestyle Swimming Technique?

Last Updated on August 1st, 2023

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If you’re interested in swimming, it’s more likely than not that you’ve heard the term “freestyle swimming.” But what exactly is the freestyle swimming technique?

This term most often refers to the freestyle stroke, which is also frequently known as front crawl. This is usually the first stroke that everyone tries to learn because it is the most common stroke in swimming.

There are four essential components to the freestyle swimming technique: 


  • Breathing
  • Body position
  • Kick
  • Arm strokes


Every aspect of the freestyle swimming technique fits into one of these components. In order to execute this stroke effectively, each component needs to be well developed. The freestyle swimming stroke is one of the two long-axis strokes, the other being the backstroke.


Why is Freestyle Called Freestyle?

The freestyle technique actually gets its name from a category of races in swimming competitions. In freestyle races, swimmers have the freedom to choose which stroke they wish to use. Freestyle races are the most common of all swimming competitions.

In freestyle races, the front crawl stroke is almost always used. This is because this stroke is the fastest and most efficient of the four principal strokes. In addition, the use of rotating arm strokes and flutter kicks with the legs allows you to attain a faster speed. 

Because front crawl is almost always used during freestyle races, the terms freestyle swimming and front crawl have become interchangeable. 


Why Shouldn’t It Be Called Freestyle?

Some argue that the front-crawl stroke should not be referred to as the freestyle swimming technique. This is because they believe the term can cause confusion. 

The freestyle swimming stroke or front crawl is not mandatory in freestyle swimming events and races. 

Although it is the most frequently used stroke for these events, competitors are usually able to choose to use whichever stroke they want – except for in Medley races, where “freestyle” refers to any stroke that is not backstroke, breaststroke, or butterfly. 


When Was the Event Named Freestyle?

Freestyle, or the front crawl stroke, is said to date back to 2000 BCE, but the first appearance of the stroke in a competitive context was in 1844.

The qualities of the modern front crawl stroke, such as flutter kicks and over-arm strokes, were first developed around 1902. 

However, the name’ front crawl’ is thought to have been developed at the end of the 19th century. Thanks to an Australian swimmer, Dick Cavill, who explained his technique as like crawling through the water.


Final Thoughts on the Freestyle Swimming Technique

Freestyle swimming races were launched at the Olympic games in 1896. These events motivated swimmers to try-out adaptations of the front crawl and breaststroke. 

Once these events grew in popularity and the front-crawl stroke became the most frequently used in these events, the term “freestyle swimming technique” emerged as a modern term for this stroke.