Freestyle Drills

Catch-Up Drill

When swimming Full Catch-up freestyle, pull with one arm at a time and touch your hands together in a streamlined position out front between each alternating arm stroke.  Keep your extended hands about 8 inches under the surface of the water for improved body position.

One Arm Drill (R,L)

One arm freestyle swimming can be done in one of two ways.

Arm Extended: With the opposite (nonworking arm) extended in front.  Breathe to the side of the working arm.  Focus on high elbow recovery, hand entry, and hand acceleration.

Arms at Side

With the opposite (nonworking arm) at your side.  Breathe to the side of the nonworking arm.  The secret to success with this drill is to complete your breath before stroking.  Concentrate on the catch, initiating body rotation with the core body muscles.  Take this drill slowly; technique is more important than speed.

Closed Fist Drill

Swimming with both hands completely closed in a fist.  This drill is not about speed.  Focus is on body position.  Use your forearm to “catch” the water and pull you forward.  Count how many strokes it takes you to swim one length, then return with both hands open like normal and compare.


Kicking without a kickboard will allow you to perform your kick in the same body position of the stroke.  Kicking with a kickboard will allow you to get to know your lane mates.

Side Kick Drill

 Kick on your side with your bottom arm (the one closer to the bottom of the pool) extended straight out of your shoulder line before your lead.  Keep your palm facing down and your extended hand about 8 inches under water.  the top arm (the one on the surface of the water) should be relaxed at your side with your hand on your hip.  Maintain a head position as though you were swimming freestyle, with your head in line with your spine.  Press your arm pit toward the pool bottom to get your hip up at the surface of the water.  Your extended arm should feel weightless.  Take 2-3 breaths then 1 long slow exhale under water.  Focus on staying level in the water and not bouncing up and down every time you breath.  Practice on both sides.

Fingertip Drag Drill

This drill is swimming normal Freestyle while dragging your fingertips along the surface of the water on the recovery.  Focus on a high elbow recovery, which ensures proper hand and elbow position at your hand entry.  You should also check your body position during this drill, focusing on good side-to-side rotation.

Sighting Drill

Swim normal freestyle.  On every 5th to 10th stroke, raise your head straight forward just enough to bring eyes out of water and “sight” on an object off in the distance.  You can pick a target like a pool clock or something already in place, i.e., a tree or landmark.  After sighting the object, lower your head back into normal position.  Remember do not lift your head so high out of the water when you sight so you can breathe.  Breathing is done as normal on your side while rotating.  Practice maintaining a balanced stroke rhythm and rotation while clearly seeing the target object.

Closed Eyes Drill

Swim normal freestyle with your eyes completely closed.  On every 5th stroke, raise your head straight forward and “sight” an object off in the distance.  (pool or open water)

Something Fun-Golf

While swimming 25’s or 50’s.  Calculate your “score” for each set by counting your strokes (one arm pull equals one stroke) and adding it to your time.  For example:  If you swim 25 strokes in a time of 30 seconds, you would have a score of 55.  (25+30)  Work on bringing your score down.  What is the fastest time you can do with the least amount of strokes?


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