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Learn to Swim Front Crawl: Roll to Alternate Sides Drill

Roll to Alternate Sides is a front crawl drill that lets you practice the skills of staying balanced in any position and breathing on alternate sides.

As such it is an excellent swimming exercise to get used to bilateral breathing.

This drill is, in fact, similar to the previous roll to the side drill except that you alternate the side towards which you roll after each arm stroke cycle.

Note: This drill belongs to an older series of drills to learn the front crawl stroke. Please have a look at the Learn to Swim Front Crawl article to learn about our current series of swimming drills for this stroke.

Video Demonstration

The video below illustrates this swimming drill:

Some Tips

Take the time to recover your balance after each change of position.

Don’t start to roll on your side before your backward sweeping hand has moved past your head.

Roll on your side by moving your hips out of the way of your backward sweeping hand.

To keep your balance while floating on the side, make sure to press the back of your head against your arm that is extended forward.

When you are perfectly balanced, your extended arm should feel weightless. Your extended arm can then be used exclusively to make your body as long as possible in the water and as a consequence to minimize drag.

Alternate drill lengths with swim lengths. Try to reproduce the sensations you experience during the drill lengths in the swim lengths.


You now have completed all the balance drills where you keep one or both arms extended forward for as long as possible to minimize drag.

The next set of drills will let you start each drill floating on your side rather than floating on your stomach. This is closer to what you experience when swimming front crawl.

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