How to improve your rotation in front crawl
Credit: James Mitchell
Training > Swim

Front crawl technique session: improve your rotation

This swim session will teach you how to use your whole body power for fast and effective triathlon swimming

Recognising that swim power comes from ‘whole body’ rotation is key to unlocking your swim potential. As with throwing a javelin or pulling on a heavy rope, your arms should be used simply to transfer this core power to create propulsion. 

Is there a difference between front crawl and freestyle?

  

Whole body rotation should originate from the hips, linking to the shoulder rotations of the arm stroke with shoulder, hip and ankle in alignment. The body should rotate approximately 45° as you inhale during arm recovery, back to the mid line and then to the other side. Positive, whole body rotation is linked to positive breathing technique, body position, stroke timing/coordination and helps initiate a high elbow catch position, increased propulsive pull/push and finish phases of the stroke. It’s important that hand entry is at shoulder width, though, to avoid ‘fish tailing’ through over-rotation.   

How much should your body rotate in front crawl?

Freestyle swim technique: how to improve your rotation and position

Front crawl technique: the key components

    

Triathletes should focus their drill work on quality rotational drills that develop whole body swimming power, supplemented by functional core strength training.

DEVELOP YOUR KICK 

Focus on side-kick drills to develop your kick/body position and save your kick board for resisted kick sets, e.g. tombstone, as above, kicking into a board held vertically in the water. 

DEVELOP POWER

Performing resisted swims using bungy cords/tow parachutes is an effective way of loading a swim to develop power. Have a coach check that your technique isn’t being compromised.

DEVELOP STRENGTH 

Drag shorts and hand paddles can be used to increase upper body power. Perform contrasting sets with these removed to get better transfer into your normal full stroke.

THE SESSION

For the whole session focus on rotation from 45° on one side to 45° on the other. And for an extended version of this session, head to 220tri.com 

WARM-UP 

200m easy

6 x 25m
As 6 strokes front crawl/6 strokes backstroke

4 x 25m
As 6 kicks on front/6 kicks on back

200m easy

15secs rest after each rep

MAIN SET

WHOLE BODY ROTATION 1 

6 x 25m torpedo (hands by side) kick on back 

6 x 25m torpedo kick on front 

15secs rest after each rep

WHOLE BODY ROTATION 2 

6 x 25m single-arm drill

6 x 25m ‘Unco’ drill (see below) with fins breathing to non-stroking arm 

15secs rest after each rep

WHOLE BODY POWER

(wearing hand paddles)

4 x 100m easy

3 x 100m vigorous

2 x 100m race pace

8 x 25m fast, resisted swims

6 x 50m
As 25m hard ‘tombstone’ leg kick/25m easy kick on back

30secs rest after each rep

COOL-DOWN

200-400m easy

ADAPT FOR BEGINNERS

Wear fins for the kicking drills. Perform half a length drill, half a length swim, focusing on rotation through your stroke.

ADAPT FOR IRONMAN

Repeat the ‘whole body power’ set after a 100m easy recovery swim.


 
 

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