Freestyle is one of the most popular events in the sport of swimming. Naturally, that also makes it one of the toughest events for an athlete to succeed in, so use the five techniques below to break through to the top.
1. Alternate Breathing
It’s important to practice breathing on both sides of your stroke. When you only breathe to one side, you have the potential to develop shoulder problems, because you are off-balance and overdeveloping muscles on one side of your body. (See Tip 4 for more info.)
2. Kick, Kick and More Kick
For freestyle, you must develop a strong kick. When you practice your freestyle kick, make sure to point your toes and always kick six beats (six kicks per arm stroke) as you rotate.
When you are taking a freestyle stroke, stay in line. You don’t want to cross an arm over to the other side of your body at the top of your stroke.
Depending on your freestyle event, you need to develop a specific breathing pattern for that race. My specialties were the 50m, 100m and 200m freestyle. In my 50m, I would only take two breaths in the entire race. For the 100m, I would take one breath the first lap and then try to maintain two for the rest of the race. During the 200m, I would try to breathe every three strokes, and to hold my breath in and out of the flags. When breathing, you are taking yourself out of line from your natural stroke, which could potentially slow you down. So try develop a breathing pattern that works for you in your race and stick with it!
5. Hand Position
Think of your hands as your paddles. Make sure to keep your fingers together as you pull through the water as opposed to spreading them out. This will help you catch the water more effectively.
Emily Silver competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, winning a silver medal as a member of the 4x100m freestyle relay team. She won gold at the 2008 World Championships and 2007 Summer Universiade, both in the 4x100m relay. She is currently the athlete relations manager for USA Swimming.