The Front crawl is commonly regarded as the fastest swimming style (also known as Freestyle). Most professional swimmers use this stroke in freestyle competitions. The initial position for the front crawl is on the breast, with both arms stretched out in front and both legs extended to the back. Then while one arm is pulling/pushing, the other arm is recovering. The arm strokes provide most of the forward movement, while the leg kicking in a flutter movement only provides some.
Front Crawl Steps / Technique:
Step 1 – Initial Position: From the initial position, the hand is held flat and the palm is turned away from the swimmer. The hand is then lowered into the water thumb first, this is called “catching the water”.
Step 2 – Pulling: The pull is a semicircle movement from the water level to the chest. The arm is kept straight and the hand points towards the body center and downward.
Step 3 – Pushing: The push is the completion of the pull, the swimmers arm is pulled back up to the waters level. The palm is moved backward through the water underneath the body at the beginning and at the side of the body at the end of the push.
Step 4 – Recovery: The recovery moves the elbow in a semicircle in the swimming direction. The lower arm and the hand are completely relaxed and hang down from the elbow. The recovering hand moves forward, just above the surface of the water. During the recovery the shoulder is moved into the air by twisting the torso. It is important to relax the arm during the recovery as having your hand higher than your elbow will result in drag and loss of balance.
Step 5 – Kicking: The legs move alternately, with one leg kicking downward while the other leg moves upward. Ideally, there are 6 kicks per cycle. The leg movement is important for stabilizing the body position. The leg in the initial position bends slightly at the knees, and then kicks the lower leg and foot downwards. After the kick the straight leg moves back up. Try not to kick too much out of the water.
Step 6 – Breathing: The face is kept down in the water during front crawl. Breathing is done through the mouth by turning the head to the side of a recovering arm at the beginning of the recovery. The head is rotated back at the end of the recovery and points down in the water again. The swimmer breathes out through mouth and nose until the next breath. Most swimmers take one breath every third arm recovery, alternating the sides for breathing. Other swimmers instead take a breath every cycle so they can always breathe from the same side.
Step 6 – Turn and Finish: A tumble turn can be used to reverse directions in minimal time. The swimmer swims close to the wall as quickly as possible. In the swimming position with one arm forward and one arm to the back, the swimmer does not recover one arm, but rather uses the pull/push of the other arm to start the tumble. At the end of the tumble the feet are at the wall, and the swimmer is on their back with their hands over the head. The swimmer then pushes off the wall while turning sideways to lie on the breast. After a brief gliding phase, the swimmer starts with a flutter kick before surfacing, usually around 15 m from the wall.
Step 7 – Finish: For the finish the swimmer has to touch the wall with any body part, usually the hand. All competitive swimmers sprint to the finish, usually taking fewer breaths than normal.