Freestyle, also known as the "crawl" stroke, is the easiest and fastest of all the strokes. This iSport Lessons video will walk you through the basics of proper freestyle technique, from your head position to your kick.
During freestyle, swimmers put their face in the water, and take alternating strokes with their arms. At the same time, they perform a "flutter kick" — a short, fast kick with pointed toes. When they need to breathe, they take a quick breath by rolling their head to the side. Let's go over each of those components again, in a bit more detail.
Let's start with your head. Keep your face pointed at the bottom of the pool, and your head down. If your head is too high, your hips will sink. The only time you should move your head is when you roll it to the side to take a breath. Side-breathing helps keep your hips up, and your body flat on the surface of the water.
Your arms will alternate taking strokes. Try to always have one arm out in front of you, since this is a more streamlined way to move through the water. For the underwater pull, use the flat of your hand and forearm to push water back, then bring that arm back over the water — also known as the recovery — to prepare for another stroke. On the recovery, keep your elbows bent and your arms relaxed. This is easier on your shoulders. As you take strokes, roll from side to side to get the most out of each pull.
As you swim freestyle, maintain a fast flutter kick. Point your toes, and kicking from your hips, quickly move your feet up and down right near the surface of the water. Your legs should be mostly straight; bending your knees too much on your flutter kick is slower and less efficient.
Let's review proper freestyle technique:
Your head is down, and your body is in a straight line at the surface of the water.
Your arms alternate taking strokes, with a smooth underwater pull and a bent-elbow recovery.
When you breathe, roll your head to the side without disrupting your body position.
Maintain a quick flutter kick, kicking from your hips and keeping your legs straight and your toes pointed.
It can be hard to maintain proper form for the duration of your swim, especially once you get tired. Practice proper technique even when you're low on energy to help cement good habits and becomea faster, more efficient swimmer.