In the front crawl stroke, you should roll from side to side instead of swimming flat in the water. This allows you to engage the back muscles in addition to the shoulder muscles and improves propulsion.

However, floating on your sides in the water feels odd in the beginning and needs some getting used to. The following swimming drill adresses this and lets you practice floating on your sides.

Swimming Drill Instructions

Start to flutter kick on your back as explained in the Head-Lead Supine Balance drill:

  • Float flat in the water on your back.
  • Use a supple flutter kick for propulsion.
  • Keep your body in a straight line.
  • Keep your arms at your sides.
  • Apply downward pressure on the back of your head and on your shoulder blades so that your hips and legs buoy up.

Once you feel balanced in this position, do the following:

  • Roll on the side so that your top arm and a patch of your top thigh clear the water.
  • Your head should not move while you roll on the side. Your face should stay oriented upward and you should be looking at the ceiling.
  • The degree of body roll is an individual matter. You should roll as far as possible while still feeling comfortable floating on your side. This is difficult in the beginning but becomes easier with practice. Most swimmers seem to settle at around 45° of body roll.
  • Continue to flutter kick in this side position for the rest of the length.
  • Alternate sides with each length until you feel comfortable flutter kicking on both sides.
  • Total Immersion literature calls this side position Sweet Spot.

Swimming Drill Tips

  • To keep your balance in the side position, you will need to apply downward pressure on your bottom shoulder rather than on the back of your head and shoulder blades as practiced in the Head-Lead Supine Balance Drill.
  • You will most likely float better on one side than on the other. This is normal, simply practice more on your weak side to compensate.
  • Keep your flutter kick relaxed and compact to avoid drag. This is a general rule to observe while swimming front crawl.
  • Remember, you can use swim fins if your flutter kick isn’t propulsive enough.
  • You can also use a swimmer’s snorkel to keep your face down the whole length and concentrate on balance.

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