Learn to Swim Front Crawl: Advanced Slide on Your Side Drill

While swimming front crawl, a lot of swimmers lose their balance when they roll on their side to breathe. As a consequence, they create more drag and lose their forward momentum.

The Advanced Slide on your Side drill tries to correct this problem by letting you practice balance in a position close to the one you are in while breathing in the front crawl stroke.

Video ThumbnailAdvanced slide on your side lets you practice balance and decrease drag in the difficult to master side-breathing position used when swimming freestyle.

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.

Drill Instructions

The drill begins like the basic slide on your side drill:

  • Push off the wall.
  • Place yourself in a horizontal position, floating on your side.
  • Kick with a gentle flutter kick.
  • Your head is in line with your trunk and facing upward. Your face clears the water.
  • Your top arm rests on your side and partially clears the water.
  • Your bottom arm is extended forward, being either parallel to the water surface or slightly angled down. Your palm is facing downward.

Now when you feel comfortable floating in this position, do the following:

  • Roll your head down so that you are now looking straight toward the bottom of the pool.
  • Adjust your balance if your hips and legs sink (push your bottom shoulder and head down to make the hips and legs rise).
  • Flutter kick in this position for a few moments, then roll your head upward when you need to breathe in, and adjust your balance again.
  • Alternate between the head up and head down position for the whole length, and change sides with each length.

Swimming Drill Tips

  • Exhale in the water while your head is rolled downward.
  • You should float on your side during the whole drill. You should try to roll your body as little as possible between the head up and head down positions.
  • Your bottom arm should stay extended forward all the time. Ideally, it should feel weightless, which means you don’t push it down to compensate for a sinking head when floating on the side.
  • Once you can comfortably switch between the head up and head down positions, alternate drill lengths with lengths swimming front crawl. Try to avoid pushing your bottom arm down while breathing on the side. Instead, try to make your arm weightless.

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