Increasing Arm Efficiency in Swimming

by Sally Ladd March 12, 2018 2 min read

swimmer using correct freestyle arm position

Swimming is said to be a technique sport, much like golf or tennis. Oftentimes the biggest and strongest swimmer is not the one to win the race; it’s the person who has the best technique. With any stroke, but especially front crawl, the secret is to combine strength with proper form.

There are a few errors swimmers commonly make with their arms in the front crawl. Here's what you can do to correct them:


This is the most common error. Swimmers bring their hands directly in front of their heads, in what would be the 12 position on a clock. This is extremely inefficient and causes your body to bob up and down in the water as well as putting you in an incorrect position to start the next aspect of the stroke. The proper hand placement is at 1 and 11, or if you were to draw a line straight out from each of your shoulders your arms should enter the water in those positions


For some reason swimmers think that if they reach out as far as they can it will make them a faster swimmer. This is somewhat true, but you do not want to do all of the reaching into the air.

A proper entry position is about midway between your shoulder and your fully extended arm. From there your hand enters the water and then you extend the rest of the way about 5 inches under the surface. The reason you do not want to do all of the reaching above the water is because it causes the front half of your body to drop and creates a lot of up and down motion, which is extremely inefficient.

These two techniques will help fine tune your swim. If you consciously work on these each time you swim you will find your times getting faster, with less effort. 

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