Freestyle swimming is the type of swimming in which there is no predetermined movement pattern to be met. In freestyle competition, the swimmer is allowed to swim in any type of swim, except for multi-layer swimming. The swimmer can swim in any type of swim except chest, dolphin or back. In freestyle swimming / crawl swimming, only one discipline is swum in competitions, namely crawl swimming. Here swimmers reach the highest speeds. For the first time in 1875 the arms were brought alternately in front of the body. In 1908, for the first time, reciprocal arm pulling was combined with an up and down movement of the legs. Johnny Weissmüller was the first swimmer to break the 1-minute limit with the crawl style technique on the 100m freestyle course. Since the crawl swimming is a very economical swimming style, it is swum between 50 and 1500m in competition.

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Competition Regulations

  • The swimmer must touch the wall with any part of his body when tacking turns and when striking the target.
  • During the competition, part of the swimmer must break through the surface of the water.
  • After the start, the swimmer may be completely submerged for a distance of 15 meters.

Motion description

Arm movement
The movement actions of the left and right arm are identical, so it is sufficient to explain the left arm stroke during crawl swimming for a complete explanation.

The stretched “left” arm first dips into the water with the fingertips (grab water). In order to optimally stretch the body, a slight rolling movement towards the action side is necessary. The Elbow joint is increasingly bent during the pulling phase (up to chest level). The printing phase begins at this point. The forearm with stretched hand is brought back under the body. Leaves at thigh height hand the water. This is followed by the pre-swing phase. The upper body rolls to the right (left shoulder comes out of the water) so that the left arm can be brought forward more easily. In the forward swing phase, the elbow is significantly higher than the hand.

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Leg movement
Perform 6 leg kicks during an arm pull cycle. In the downward action, the movement of the legs is directed through the thigh. The lower leg and foot follow like a whip. The movement amplitude is 30-40 cm and should be close to the water surface due to the optimal water location.

The exhalation is explosive under water and the rapid inhalation takes place with the exiting of the elbow from the water. The head is not raised, just turned to the side. At the end of the inhalation, the head is put back into the water. During the entire swimming movement, the view is on the pelvic floor directed.

A detailed, illustrated and animated description can be found under our topic: Movement description crawl swimming.


The typical mistakes in crawl swimming are:

  • The arms are stretched forward and can therefore cramp quickly.
  • Stretched arm pulls through the water. This results in poorer leverage ratios.
  • The arm does not pass under the body, but sideways, creating serpentine lines when swimming.
  • Legs are too deep, so the water resistance increases and the leg movements do not achieve propulsion, but buoyancy.
  • Legs are bent too much. As a result, no propulsion.
  • The head is raised too much when inhaling, this causes the legs to drop and the arm prevents it from swinging forward.

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