The front crawl is the most common freestyle stroke used by Olympic swimmers because it's the fastest. It's the perfect total-body workout as well as the easiest stroke to pick up on if you are just hitting the pool. With all the recent Olympic swimming coverage filled with world records and hot bods, you may be inspired to channel your inner Franklin and go for gold in your own fitness goals. Before you "take your mark," check this list and take note of the five most common freestyle mistakes swimmers (even the pros) tend to make.
- Breathing on one side: We all play favorites, especially when it comes to our freestyle breathing. Instead of choosing one side to breathe to, establish an alternating breathing pattern that supports both sides of your stroke, such as breathing every third "hand hit." Favoring one side will cause you to get tired faster and could potentially cause injury. Don't forget, your breath will help you establish a rhythm as well as keep an eye out for competitors on either side of you.
- Lifting your head: It's only human nature to be a little nosy, which is why looking forward in freestyle is a very common mistake. Unfortunately, this can really slow you down. Use the line at the bottom of the pool as your guide. Lifting your head creates a break in your body line, not to mention a neck cramp.
- Going kick crazy: This is swimming, not karate! Yes, your kick is like a propeller, but sometimes a little too much of a good thing is bad. Overkicking causes you to burn out quickly, so remember to pace yourself and build power throughout your swim. Use your kick in tune with your breathing to establish a rhythm.
- Swimming flat: Bring your favorite dance moves into the pool and use your hips! Forgetting about your hips will cause you to swim flat and make it harder to take a breath and incorporate your kick. Just don't go too extreme with the rotation; find a happy medium.
- Overpowering with your arms: Your arms are a huge part of your stroke, especially in freestyle. Use your arms in the freestyle catch, but control your movements from your center (core) rather than your hands. By thinking of your stroke in this way, you will be surprised at the power and speed you will feel.
Don't forget to watch how Team USA and the pros rock this stroke in the 200 freestyle tonight!