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Learn to Swim Front Crawl / Freestyle: Hand-Lead Nose Up / Nose Down Drill

Hand-Lead Nose Up / Nose Down is the last one of our balance drills for the front crawl / freestyle stroke. It lets you practice balance floating on your side with one arm extended forward.

This is useful because you will roll from side to side into this specific side position while swimming front crawl.

A novice swimmer who practices the head-lead nose up / nose down  drill for the front crawl stroke.

This swimming drill also lets you practice dynamic balance, where you successively switch between a face-up and a face-down position.

Being able to maintain balance while rolling on your side is useful because you roll in a similar way to breathe in the front crawl stroke.

Video Demonstration

Below a video demonstration of this swimming drill:

Drill Instructions

Start in the same position as in Head-Lead Side Balance:

  • Your body is horizontal in the water.
  • You float partly on your back and partly on your side.
  • Your face is turned upward.
  • Your arms are at your sides.
  • You use a supple flutter kick for propulsion.

Extend your body in the water as you learned to do in Hand-Lead Side Balance:

  • Extend the bottom arm forward until it is straight, in an overhead position, and parallel to the water surface or slightly angled down.
  • Take a few moments to adjust your balance.

Now roll in the downward position:

  • Rotate your head downward so that you are looking directly at the bottom of the pool.
  • At the same time, your body follows along and rolls entirely on the side, now being at a 90° angle with the water surface.
  • Continue to flutter kick in this position until you need to breathe, then roll in the upward position to get air, and then download again once you have taken a few breaths.
  • Change sides after each length.
  • Practice until you can seamlessly switch between the face-up and the face-down position and you feel entirely comfortable floating on the side.

Additional Tips

Exhale continuously as soon as the face is in the water, don’t hold your breath.

Make your body as compact and slippery as possible, try to move it through the smallest cylinder of water possible.

You should feel that the arm extended forward acts as a counterweight of your hips and legs and helps to keep them up, and especially so when the face is turned downward.

You should have the sensation of moving forward and slightly downhill when the face is turned downward.

Learning Path for the Front Crawl

Below is an overview of our series of articles on learning the front crawl. Each article in this series contains one or more drills that have to be mastered. The current article is highlighted:

Once you have gone through all the steps of this learning path, you should be able to swim front crawl without any problems.

Good luck!

paul rennolet

Wednesday 2nd of June 2021

Your swimming drill articles each mention a video demonstration below, "Video Demonstration Below a video demonstration of this swimming drill:" but there is no video demonstration. Is there one that I am somehow not seeing, browser problem, or whatever, or have they been removed?


Thursday 3rd of June 2021

Hi Paul,

Are you using an ad blocker? That could be an explanation for why you don't see the video.