Why can’t I swim straight freestyle?

Struggle to swim straight in front crawl? It could be due to your technique, says Dan Bullock. Here, he explains four possible causes...

Swimmers at the Eirias Triathlon

The secret to saving time and energy in open water? Simple. Swimming straight. But it’s no good just relying on sighting, as achieving a perfectly linear freestyle swim is only truly effective when sighting is combined with a balanced and symmetrical stroke and good technique work.


But commit any of the following four front-crawl cardinal sins and you’ll be adding swim distance and time…

1. The lack of a strong catch position set up by one of the arms, usually from the arm that supports the head as you breathe away from it. The arm cycle should pull you forwards. If only one arm has an effective catch, this generates unbalanced propulsion.

2. An early exit at the back of the stroke, leading to less propulsion on one side.

3. A lack of dexterity on the ‘weaker arm’ prevents you from duplicating the correct pathways that the ‘strong arm’ performs.

 4. A wide sweep of one of the recovering arms across the centre line.

Sort out these issues and you won’t just have to rely on sighting to swim straight.