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Front Crawl Swimming Technique

Sheetal Mandora Aug 22, 2020
Call it front crawl, forward crawl, Australian crawl, or American crawl, with practice you too can master the technique. Read on to learn how this technique should be performed properly.
Performing the front crawl provides a swimmer much more flexibility in the arms. This swimming technique was first seen in a competition in London, around 1844, by South American swimmers who had defeated the British breaststroke swimmers.
Officially considered to be the fastest stroke in swimming, the front crawl technique is a favorite among many professional swimmers in competitions. Although, this technique may seem tough, but with constant practice, you too can master it.

Learn Proper Technique

Learning the technique will not only make you a fast swimmer, but also give you a non-impact aerobic workout.

Positioning Your Body

  • Your entire body should be aerodynamic and as flat as possible. Keeping in close to the water surface and the head aligned with the body.
  • The water surface (waterline) should be around the hairline, while keeping your eyes forward and down. If the entire positioning is messed up, as in, the head is raised, this will make the hips and legs to go under the water surface.
  • On the other hand, if the head is dipped too low, this will make the legs to raise. All you will be doing is kick them in the air without any advantage of speed or distance and increase the frontal resistance.
  • Along with the hips, legs, and head, your shoulders will also stay at the water surface. Roll then in synchronized formation with your arms.
  • Also, the hips will roll in synchronized formation with the stroke.


  • Alter both legs by moving them up and down as you push forcefully. The legs need to provide a long and fast kicking movement, which makes sure that the entire leg is moving up and down for the stroke.
  • For the downward kick, your top leg will go down, beginning from the hip, using your thigh muscles to make your leg straight at the knee.
  • As one stroke finishes, your foot will be extended to let it bear upon the water. Once you bring the leg up, the sole of your foot and the back of that leg will press itself upwards and backwards against the water.
  • For the upward kick, your leg will slow down and stop the pushing as it breaks the surface of the water. Your toes will be pointing and the ankles will get a second to relax.


  • Alternating arm movements is the key to gain power and speed. First one is the catch―your hand will reach forward under the water.
  • Try not to overstretch the hand as you do this. Your arm will fully extend itself as it breaks through the surface of the water.
  • Second one is the propulsive phase―your hand will sweep itself through the water going down, in-sweep, and then back up. Keep your elbow high when the hand is down and going through the in-sweep. Pull on your hand as it reaches the thigh and bring it up to the water surface.
  • Third one is the recovery phase―this is the time when your elbow will bend (coming out first) as your hand tries to exit the water. Your hand and fingers will exit the water and automatically form a straight line similar to your body on the surface. Again the elbow will bent and held high as the arm gets a second to relax.


  • As you inhale, your head will turn to the side. Once your arm does the in-sweep, your head will turn at the end of it, just enough so that you can inhale.
  • Your head will come back in the water once one arm comes over the water surface and the other one goes inside. The breathing pattern can be either bilateral where you alternate the sides after every 1 ½ stroke, or it can be unilateral, where you breathe from the same side.
To master the technique, you need to understand the timing and coordination of the entire stroke. As your arms provide you with continuous power and propelling movement, and the legs alternatively kicking, with determination and will, you can definitely learn the fastest swimming style. Get an experienced coach on-board and begin your training.
Disclaimer: Always consult a professional before starting any program in order to reduce the risk of injury.