There’s one last trick that’s required to make freestyle work as well as it can.
While you need to have a strong pull, an effective kick, and great alignment, it’s when you string these actions together at the right time that all the magic happens.
Let’s look into how to do that.
The timing of the freestyle stroke is closely connected to the rotation of the torso.
The major difference between sprint freestyle and middle-distance/distance freestyle is how the rotation is timed, as well as the amount of patience demonstrated in the front end of the stroke.
I’ve separated the two types of timing to endurance and sprint timing.
Which one should you use?
When you’re trying to swim smoothly for long periods of time, it’s beneficial to be able to use endurance timing.
When you want to swim fast, you’ll want to shift to sprint timing.
Everything in between should be based upon what you feel works best for you.
Sprint rotation timing. Your shoulders will typically near the end of their rotation as your hand enters the water and there is little further extension or rotation upon entry.
When your hand enters, your shoulders should be almost fully rotated so that you can start stroking right away.
This is the key timing concept.
While your shoulders will still rotate to a significant extent, the hips will rotate less.
Sprint arm timing. Your arms will also tend to move in opposition to each other over the course of the stroke cycle, with one arm finishing your stroke as the other is entering the water.
To recover the arms, you can use very bent elbows, very straight elbows, or anything in between.
Regardless of the bend in your elbow, your arms will typically be recovered high over the water, and they will be swung ballistically.
Endurance rotation timing. The majority of the rotation of the shoulders and hips occurs after the entry as your hand is moving towards full extension in the front of your stroke, with the rotation finishing as your arm reaches full extension.
The greater patience prior to catching the water allows for a greater degree of rotation in the hips.
Endurance arm timing. The timing between your arms is characterized by a much greater degree of overlap between the arms in the front of the stroke.
It’s not catch-up, but it’s closer to catch up.
This overlap timing becomes possible due to the patience exhibited by your extended arm while the rotation is finishing.
During your arm recovery, varying degrees of bend occur at your elbow, and your arm recovery should occur fluidly.
How do you learn the appropriate timing?
I’ve got two exercises that do an excellent job of forcing you to feel EXACTLY what the appropriate timing consists of.
Simply perform a few laps of each exercise, then perform a few laps of regular freestyle.
Make it feel the same!
It also provides a GREAT visual of what each type of effective timing looks like live.
Give it a shot!
Next time, I’ll wrap everything up for you so can focus on the key takeaways, and start putting it into action.