Freestyle: the name makes is sound simple, like anyone can nail it. It’s just one arm after the other, follow your nose, turn and repeat. Anyone who mows through a few laps on a regular basis will know there is more to solid freestyle than that. So, if speed is on your radar, here's some simple tweaks that can have surprising results.


Australian swimmer Cam McEvoy uses FINIS gear to simplify his training
Press and go.

It’s always good to focus on ways to not waste energy. When it comes to propulsion through the water it can help to imagine you are trying to press water backwards, which, thanks to that old rule from physics class of “every action has an equal and opposite reaction”, results in you being pushed forwards. Looking at it this way hammers home how any hint of pushing down, up or to the side is wasted effort.

Need a hand with this technique? FINIS Freestyler Paddles has a patented skeg design which provides instant stroke feedback so you see improvements with each lap.  The design also reduces shoulder stress by preventing hand entry crossover that causes shoulder injury.

Breathe.
For open water swimmers, learning to breathe confidently on your off side can hugely impact your performance.  Unpredictable open water means it won’t always be possible to use your preferred side and being able to modify your patterning on the fly can improve performance considerably.

Just getting enough oxygen in can tend to be the focus of many laps, particularly towards the end of a session. This can make it harder to remain focused on other areas of form and get the most out of your time in the water.

Using a swimmers snorkel to train will allow you to give your stroke, patterning and timing your total attention.  FINIS snorkels are designed to be comfortable for long training sessions and they stay in place during tumble turns.  Olympic bronze medalist, Cam McEvoy describes the FINIS Stability Snorkel as one of his favourite pieces of kit and a revelation for training. It’s the device he turns to when he wants to fine-tune technique.

Kick off.
Kicking can help power you through the water but too much movement and the wrong kind will burn energy, create drag and generally be counter-productive. You’ll not only save energy if you can ditch a dicey kick - good kick technique will also help lift you higher in the water where resistance is lower and faster lap times live.

Whether you swim with fins or without, focus on keeping your legs straight as you swim. Point your toes and, if you swim without fins, try grazing your big toes slightly as they pass each other.

Rhythm.

Start to over-think each element of your stroke and things can get lumpy and slow. Good technique flows so try setting a rhythm in your head and sticking to it as you stitch changes into your stroke one at a time. Don’t cram in lots of tweaks at once and don’t rush.

FINIS Tempo Trainer Pro helps swimmers hit their target stroke rate
For help maintaining rhythm try the Tempo Trainer Pro.  It’s a swimming metronome - a timing device like the kind musicians use to keep a regular beat. There are many ways to use this nifty device but for rhythm, pop it on mode 3, set your desired pace and swim to the beep. Having a pre-programmed stroke target can help the mind focus and make the introduction of tweaks a bit smoother.


Any tweak, no matter how small, has the potential to deliver great results. But any tweak, no matter how small, takes time to integrate successfully into your stroke. While the mission may be faster lap times or better distance-per-stroke, remember building better technique is not a race.

February 04, 2021 — Information Finis Australia