Learn to Swim Front Crawl: Slide on your Side Drill

Slide on your side is a swimming drill to learn swimming front crawl more on the sides while also maintaining good balance and a long body in the water. Swimming more on the sides allows to improve propulsion but can feel odd at first. Practicing this drill lets you get used to floating on your side.

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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

  • Push off the wall and roll your body so that you end up floating on one of your sides.
  • Position your head so that it is in line with your spine and facing upward.
  • Extend your bottom arm forward under water, being either parallel with the water surface or slightly angled down.
  • Your top arm rests on your top side.
  • Your shoulders are vertically aligned.
  • Your legs execute a relaxed flutter kick.
  • Apply downward pressure on your bottom shoulder and on your head so that your hips and legs are buoyed up through a lever effect.
  • Move forward in this side position for the whole length, changing sides with each length.

Drill Benefits

If done correctly, this drill allows you to slide smoothly in the water with a relaxed kick. This is because this position has the following benefits:

  1. You glide in a balanced position, with your hips and legs up, thus reducing drag.
  2. Your bottom arm is extended and makes you taller in the water, which reduces turbulence.
  3. You float on your side, which when later combined with an arm stroke while swimming front crawl will improve your propulsion.

Additional Tips

You may notice that it’s easier to keep your balance on one side than on the other. This is often the case and perfectly normal. I, for example, float more easily on my right side.

This can have several causes: one of your lungs is smaller than the other one, one side of your body is stronger than the other, etc. Just practice this swimming drill a little bit more on your weaker side to compensate.

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