Hello and welcome to this extensive learning opportunity for beginners as well as more advanced freestyle swimmers. When you already understand the basics and want to set things in motion or are already a more advanced freestyler and are looking for ways to improve your style so as to become faster (like we all want to, right?) Look no further we have found the right course for you and because the course is so full of detail we have put together a summary for you that allows you to move straight to the points that interest you:
- What ist freestyle actually?
- Freestyle for triathletes – 2 advantages
- The technique – 3 phases and the right body position in the water
- Freestyle breathing
- Learn how to swim freestyle correctly – focussing on technique
- Interview with A-licence trainer Stephen Marcus
What is freestyle actually?
Freestyle is the fastest of all the swimming styles and normally the most popular of the four (The others being backstroke / breaststroke / butterfly) It is usually used in triathlons because of this and because of it’s speed. Trained swimmers reach speeds of up to and over 8km/h! Funnily enough in Germany the schools still teach breaststroke 1st as opposed to freestyle and backstroke in many countries around the world.
To be effective whilst learning freestyle the best way is to follow a method-what this means is that we break down the complexity of the stroke into smaller single movements that you may train separately and learn piece by piece. As soon as the single phases are learnt then you put them together and have a clean technique whereby the speed of the style plays a lesser role at this point.
How you do this fast and effectively, you will find out here. If you need more advanced tips, training plans and video plans then at this point look at this website Freestyle Optimizer. Stephen Marcus is himself an ex swimmer and national finalist as well as an A licence trainer. More to the course below.
Freestyle for Triathletes – 2 advantages
In triathlons the swimmers using freestyle have a big advantage over those using breaststroke, this is because of firstly its base speed and secondly the fact you are able to “rest your legs” more than in the breaststroke allowing you to use the legs more effectively in the bike and run part of the event. In the breaststroke the legs are pushing way more, in freestyle used for triathlon’s the legs are more of a stabilizing factor than a power factor.
The Technique – 3 Phases and the correct body position in the water
In the next part we will attempt to explain the most important movement components. In text form this is actually not so easy and for those who really want to swim faster and improve their style you either have to take professional lessons or alternatively use the suggested online course.
The execution of the freestyle technique we have split into 3 separate segments, which allows you to first see the theory and then practice these individually so as to finally put it together in a your new faster style. Important in all 3 segments is the correct body position in the water which if correct(see picture) will be parallel to the water surface.
Step 1 – The freestyle arm pull
We begin with a straight arm stretched forwards as the hand enters the water we drop the wrist slightly catch the water, followed by an elbow bend that then allows you to push the water straight back to your feet this is the pull phase of the stroke. If you could imagine the following that you were putting your hand into a type of strong jelly and then pulling your body along to the hand entry point and slightly past this point.
At this phase or segment we begin with the pressure phase of the stroke in which you now push the water on a line towards your feet followed by the overwater part of the stroke with a high elbow this being the hopefully relaxed next phase or segment of the stroke the overwater phase-To do this we need to add a shoulder and upper body rotation to the stroke, at this point you should be gliding (hopefully) a little to the front before beginning with the other arm the next stroke cycle.
Things to focus on in practice:
At first do not focus on the breathing ( Of course you will have to breathe ☺) Try to breathe after 6-8 stroke cycles by lifting the head straight forwards and up as in breaststroke-useful to learn for sighting in triathlon anyway.
Please do all the steps in a focused and controlled manner slowly at first in this way we would like you to make the movements and muscle memory automatic and then you will have a good technique-At this point the legs are not so important however if you have problems with your legs perhaps the use of a pullboy( like this one) between the legs will help stabilize and position the body in the water correctly
Step 2 – The freestyle leg movement
When you are happy with the freestyle arm cycle as far the stroke and body position are concerned we now move on to talk about the legs although that is not really correct because we actually start the movement in the hips sending the wave movement down the leg from top to bottom ending in a whip effect with the foot ( Standing you can practice painting the floor with your foot) To do this you must bend the knee slightly and both legs must work together in a good rhythm.
Things to focus on in practice:
It is important here as well to just focus on the legs and “forget about breathing and the arm cycle” and concentrate on the legs alone. To help you here we suggest a pool noodle or even better a kickboard of the correct size for your body so that you can just kick with your arms on this aid..
Step 3 – The combination
Now we put the parts we have learnt so far together and start practicing the arms and legs at the same time-here we again recommend that you use the straight up lift of the head like in breaststroke for these practice sessions. Remember it is not about speed but the correct way to do it so slow and steady is the way to go in practice and also to try to visualize what and how you will do it, another tip would be to get a friend to film you and then you may compare this to the video’s found on the course.
Freestyle – Breathing
Super that you have got this far and you are now not far away from a good freestyle, what is missing is the breathing component of freestyle. The time is right for you to start breathing when the arm is coming out at the back, when you want to breathe on one side only then now is the time to decide which side is easier for you by trying out both sides-if you decide on the right for example then you need to breathe every time the right arm is starting to come from the back to the front the same would be for the other side. For Triathletes we recommend that you learn to breathe to both sides allowing you a better control of where you are in a race and you can see your competitors ( Hopefully behind you).
The head should be stretched and the breathing happening through a sideways rotation, you should not feel crunched together in the neck area the body position long and the rotation of the head helped by the shoulder rotation you have in freestyle. You may also try to get a rhythm and breathe for example every 3rd stroke which will be a natural right then left breathing.
What to focus on in practice:
You may practice in the shallow end in a standing position just by bending over and making light and easy but correct strokes when you have practiced this then you should practice a whole lane breathing 1st to one side and then another lane breathing to the opposite side.
Learn freestyle in the correct way – focus on technique
A good technique is the basis of a fast freestyle if the technique is wrong then you will be slower and using your energy in the wrong way. For someone who just wants to swim a little then this info may be enough but if you really want to get faster and pick up speed then there are only two ways to do this. One being a professional coach which could be very expensive and that is why I recommend using Freestyle Optimizer where you get a good methodology and a practical course with videos, training plans and other tips and tricks to help you in a very cost effective way. Also the suggestion of filming yourself is a great.
In this way you may compare your videos to those on the course have a good learn effect and save yourself a lot of money on expensive hours with a professional coach. At the same time (Stephen) may be contacted by e-mail with any questions you may have something that I have used to get help for myself. The course allows you without signing up to see one video and of course I want you to watch it as well because it rounds up this story and deals with the 3 most common mistakes made in freestyle and some tips from the trainer on how to correct these.
FAQ – We answer your questions!
How many calories do you burn swimming freestyle?
Swimming in general and freestyle especially are both intensive ways to burn energy. You use or burn around 350 kcal swimming for half an hour or doing aqua sport. That is also why swimming is often recommended as part of a diet and a great way to a good general conditioning and fitness level.
Is it possible to learn freestyle as an adult?
Of course, freestyle is good for your health makes you fit and is something you can learn at almost any age. However it will take some time when you are an adult and I recommend that you plan in a few weeks of intensive learning with the course and then to practice and practice in that way the movements will become natural which can take a while if you have never done this before.
Freestyle vs Breaststroke what is healthier, which is faster, which is harder?
The fastest is of course freestyle both are good for you from a health point of view, in fact it is a good idea to practice both styles it gives the body a good feel. I would say breaststroke is harder to swim over longer distances but that is my opinion and some may say it is easier for them.
Which muscles are used in freestyle?
In freestyle about 90% of all the muscles in your body are getting a good and easy workout-The main muscles used are those in your arms and shoulders.
How long will it take to learn freestyle?
As a beginner and speaking from long experience in swimming I would say that it could take anything from 4 to 8 weeks and will of course depend on how hard and often you practice. The more experienced you are the harder you will have to work and train to get a better and faster freestyle and to get those extra seconds you want especially in racing.
Interview with Stephen Marcus A-License trainer and freestyle optimizer coach
Thank you very much that you take the time for this interview for me and for my readers that you also let us have a peek at your online course “ the freestyle optimizer “The 1st question for you.
You used to be a good competitive swimmer and are now an A-license trainer. You could say you have spent a lot of time in or at the pool, what is it that fascinates you about this sport that keeps you faithful over so many years?
Stephen: 3 things: 1. water is my element – swimming / diving or sailing. 2. It is a great sport that you can do all your life long that will keep you fit– running and soccer are just not my thing 3. I know many older swimmers who are an example to me though their fitness and social contact though this sport that motivates me.
When did you start with freestyle and was it your stroke in competitive swimming?
Stephen: Actually backstroke was my main stroke and to be honest now I could probably swim only shorter distances fast in freestyle-for triathletes and open water swimmers you will see the best gains through a good technique and a smooth style in freestyle.
You have with your online video course created something unique out there in the English speaking countries what is your philosophy that you are trying to bring across to your members of the course?
Tips and short videos are out there an masse but I could not find anywhere that took a beginner swimmer by the hand and gave him a methodology that takes them step by step in a very practical and practiced way forward to their goal what am I doing wrong and what can I do about it as an example without proper legs you also will end up with a poor boy position with one mistake chasing the next-With the course we have ten modules to get rid of your mistakes a and to help you become a better and faster swimmer..
So far I have only learnt to swim breaststroke and the few times I have tried to swim freestyle ended with me just managing to hold myself over water. Would your course be good for me or is it aimed at more experienced people to make them faster?
No I think it is good for beginners as well as triathlon athletes and open water swimmers aiming to get faster and have a better style. I have those who could with a lot of effort just manage at the start to make 50 M in a pool as well as those just swimming for a hobby or some fun who do not feel like they are making any advances in their technique and watch other freestylers with an element of jealousy because they are faster in fact I have been able to help swimmers across all levels to become faster.
The central theme of your course is the ten videos in HD quality one of which may be found below, what do swimmers find in your course apart from those videos?
In each part of the course you find a training plan to take with you to the pool for practice these tie into the video module you just watched so that you practice what you saw. In effect those mistakes that I show you in the different parts of the course (Link to all ten parts here) that then show you all the different phases and elements of a good freestyle are to be at the end of each video you get to see what makes up a good style-so you are able to see what is good style and what to watch out for when practicing at the end I always give you a two to five exercises to use to get rid of any mistakes seen plus in the bonus area as a seasonal plus right now, extra tips to good reading material, swimming aids and links to good videos in internet.
How would you see the advantages and disadvantages of your course in comparison to a swimming school for example?
When a swimmers has on deck a coach who has some experience then of course that coach will be able to help that swimmer in a very directed way to improve their technique, this the online course cannot do.
However in the course we focus on mistakes made by the most swimmers as seen over many years of our own experience as coaches and the feedback from those doing the course tells us we are helping the people in the right direction. Another plus is that the course will cost less than an hour of personal training and offers way more information that you could get in that hour. As a course member you of course have flexible access to the material at all times and can go back and review the videos and other material etc..
What goals are realistically possible by following the course? How fast are the improvements actually happening?
Beginners and advanced swimmers should be able to feel after just a few weeks a better feel to the water, which basically means they are using less power than before to move much faster and it is something you may measure on the stopwatch an idea would be to swim a certain distance before you start the course and then say in 5 weeks, I am prepared to guarantee that triathletes following this course will get 90 seconds faster in 90 days and of course if you really feel we have not helped you and that you have had no improvement then send me a mail and I will make sure you get your money back.
Thank you very much for the interview Stephen!
To go to the freestyle optimizer website click here.