Freestyle swimming, also known as front crawl, offers numerous benefits for kids that go beyond just having fun in the water. It’s one of the most common swimming strokes used by all ages and abilities. From finding the right breathing technique to maintaining a neutral position in the water, there is a lot to master when it comes to the freestyle stroke.
Encouraging kids to embrace freestyle swimming not only offers immediate physical benefits but also instils valuable life skills and a positive attitude towards water. At Rackley Swimming we help teach all ages and skill levels how to swim. To read more about how to master freestyle swimming strokes, here are our top tips below.
What is Freestyle Swimming?
Freestyle is a competitive swimming category that leaves the swimmer open to choosing the best method for them. Freestyle competitions allow you to swim with minimal rules surrounding your strokes, excluding using butterfly, backstroke, or breaststroke. In these races, it makes the most sense to choose the fastest stroke.
This style of swimming is performed by facing down into the water, rotating your body through the water as each arm stretches forward, catching, pulling and pushing the water to the hips while you flutter kick your feet. Freestyle swimming is one of the earliest methods of swimming children are taught.
Benefits of Freestyle Swimming
There are countless swimming benefits that your child can gain when using freestyle. Freestyle swimming engages multiple muscle groups, including the arms, legs, core, and back. By practising this stroke, kids can improve their cardiovascular health, build endurance, and enhance their overall fitness levels.
Swimming is a low-impact activity that puts less stress on joints compared to other sports or exercises. This makes freestyle swimming an excellent choice for kids, allowing them to stay active while minimising the risk of injuries. This makes swimming a great choice for kids who don’t typically enjoy sporting activities. It also is great for maintaining a level of fitness for other sports due its low impact benefits.
By mastering freestyle swimming at a young age, kids can develop a lifelong love for swimming. It opens the door to other aquatic sports like diving, or water polo, and recreational activities, beach holidays, and simply spending time around the pool. Swimming can provide endless opportunities for enjoyment and physical activity throughout your children’s lives.
Understanding Freestyle Swimming Technique
Whether your child wants to learn freestyle for leisure swimming or competitive swimming, you will find that freestyle swimming is a wonderful place to start. As you will see if you’ve ever been to a swimming competition, or seen swimming events on tv, there are several ways that you can master your freestyle strokes.
Here are a few techniques that your child can follow:
The aim is to get their body in a position that creates the least resistance while in the water, so finding the right movements is crucial. To swim freestyle, you want to help your child begin face down and ensure that their head isn’t too high out of the water. As they roll their body, they can turn their head from side to side to take breaths.
Many beginner swimmers find that keeping their head looking at the bottom of the pool works best for them to assist with their body position in the water. However as your child progresses, they will find a comfortable position once they have done some freestyle swimming of their own.
Arms and Legs
Your child’s arm movement consists of a long arm stroke each time they roll their body. The aim is to pull underwater to the hips, to help propel their body along. To gain more speed when they are swimming freestyle, teach your child to reach their arm as far as possible in the water, and enter the water with their hand during the arm pull, as it reduces drag.
For your child’s legs, explain that they need to coordinate a fast kick with slow arm strokes. Fast, small flutter kicks, with relaxed feet along the surface of the water will create whitewater, to propel you forward.
To ensure that your child doesn’t lose momentum in the water, they should try not to lift their head to take a breath. Instead they should take a breath and turn their head as their body rolls to the side on alternative strokes. This method of bilateral breathing helps to ensure their freestyle swimming stroke is smooth and comfortable breathing to both sides of the body.
It may sound tricky to master swimming without the right guidance, that’s why swimming lessons for kids are so beneficial. Rackley Swimming offers a range of learn to swim classes for kids of all ages.
Tips to Improve Freestyle Swimming Technique
If your child has already grasped the basics of freestyle swimming, but is looking for some tips to refine their strokes, there are a few simple rules they can follow and they will be an Olympic swimmer in no time.
Proper body position
To ensure that your child has a proper technique, they should always try to keep their body in a straight line. When they turn for each stroke, they should roll their whole body into the stroke, keeping their shoulders and hips in line.
Align your body
Align their body in a flat position at the commencement of the stroke. To reduce the amount of splash they produce when entering each arm pull, focus on the speed and consistency of the kick. This will stabilise the body.
Your child will be able to better align their body by refining their arm movements and ensuring that their hands are slightly open and relaxed, and their fingers enter the water first. After they have completed an arm pulling stroke, their hand should exit the water at their hip. Returning the hand to the entry point is called the recovery phase of the stroke.
Maintain a streamlined position
Once they have built up their breath technique and can hold their breath for longer, your child will be able to hold a streamline start for longer, giving them the ability to create more speed and less drag. Breathing is a hold, flow and inhale process which takes practice to correctly time each stage of breathing.
Develop a strong kick
The flutter kick used in freestyle should never create too much splash. Your child should keep their toes pointed and use small and fast kicks in time with their arm strokes. A good beat to follow is six kicks for each arm cycle.
A common mistake many make is bending the knees too much, which creates drag in the water and hinders speed. Your child should aim to keep their legs long and kick with relaxed feet.
If your child is looking to improve their skills further, you can find a Swim Squad at your nearest Rackley Swimming location. Joining a squad is a great way to develop stroke techniques, learn tips from some amazing coaches, and of course make friends. And it’s fun!
Freestyle is a terrific way for young swimmers to learn to swim and ensure that all ages and abilities can keep fit and healthy. Freestyle is a versatile stroke that can be adapted to various swimming distances and situations, making it ideal for kids to master.
If your child is considering swimming competitively, freestyle is the primary stroke used in competitive swimming races. By learning freestyle first, kids gain a competitive advantage if they decide to participate in swimming competitions in the future. Starting with freestyle allows them to focus on mastering this stroke before branching out to other strokes.
Learning to swim and developing stroke technique has countless benefits for kids. To help your child master swimming, you can start looking for swimming lessons in Brisbane or searching for your nearest location. Rackley Swimming has locations throughout the eastern Queensland region. Find your nearest Rackley Swimming centre today. We’ll see you at the pool!