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Learn to Swim Front Crawl / Freestyle: Under Switch Drill

You will finally transition into swimming the front crawl / freestyle stroke with the next set of swimming drills, which teach you arm stroke movements and coordination.

They are called switch drills because you switch between sides over the course of a drill cycle.

A novice swimmer who practices the under switch drill for the front crawl stroke.

In the first one of these swimming drills, Under Switch, the arm recovery occurs underwater.

This allows you to focus on and become aware of the synergy that exists between the arm movements and body roll while swimming front crawl.

Video Demonstration

The video below demonstrates the Under Switch drill:

Drill Instructions

Push off the wall floating on the side as you did in Hand-Lead Side Balance:

  • Your body is horizontal in the water, rolled about 45° away from a flat position.
  • Your head is in line with the trunk and your face is turned upward.
  • Your bottom arm is straight, floating underwater and extended forward, your top arm rests on your side.
  • Your legs are flutter kicking.
  • Now roll your head and turn your face downward. Your body rolls a little bit too until it is at a 90° angle with the water surface.

Take a few moments to adjust your balance, then do the following:

  • Your top arm is the recovering arm. Sneak it forward in the water and close to your body, with your hand following the midline of your body, and the palm turned inward.
  • Your other arm starts to sweep backward at the same time, pushing against the water for propulsion.
  • When you can see your recovering hand in front of your face, roll your body as a unit toward the other side until you are back into the initial position but on the other side.
  • Breathe in a few times and adjust your balance, then repeat the same movements toward the other side, and so on.

Additional Tips

Here a few additional drills for this swimming drill:

  • Practice until you have internalized the right moment at which you must roll toward the other side.
  • Remember to roll your body as a unit, don’t anticipate the rotation with your head.
  • Exhale continuously as soon as your face is submerged.
  • Once you become proficient with this swimming drill, try to do double and triple switches: don’t roll your head upward after the first switch but keep it down and do a few arm switches in that position before rolling up.
  • You can also use swimmer’s snorkel. It allows you to do switches for whole lengths without having to stop to breathe.
  • You can also try to add more snap into the hip rotation to drive the switches.

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!