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Freestyle stroke technique with Nathan Adrian

Olympic freestyle sprint champion, Nathan Adrian, nails the perfect freestyle stroke technique in our helpful how-to video, which includes advice from our leading swim coach to help you improve your freestyle hand entry, catch position and arm pull.

Olympic freestyle sprint champion, Nathan Adrian, nails the perfect freestyle stroke technique in our helpful how-to video, which includes advice from our leading swim coach to help you improve your freestyle hand entry, catch position and arm pull.

Perfect your Freestyle/Front Crawl Stroke with Nathan Adrian.


Learn how to improve your freestyle stroke technique for a faster, more efficient swim.


A faster arm stroke doesn't always improve your swimming speed. Longer, efficient strokes are always better than shorter, aggressive movements.


Your hand entry should be relaxed and in line with your shoulder. For most people, the hand should enter the water about 12 to 18 inches in front of their head.


At the end of the stretch, your hand should be at the same depth as your armpit, with your palm facing down and your fingers forwards, making sure they don't cross over the central point.


In order to start pushing the water backwards, your wrist should bend and your fingers should point diagonally towards the bottom of the pool. At the same time, rotate your elbow to point upwards, gaining a high elbow position before you push the water backwards.This is known as the 'catch'.


At the end of the catch, it is crucial that your fingers point down towards the bottom of the pool, with your palm facing backwards to ensure your elbow doesn't drop.


Moving into the pull phase of the arm stroke, your powerful chest and shoulder muscles take over, and should begin pushing the water backwards, initiating your propulsion.

Keep your palm facing backwards, while your hand remains within your body line. Maintaining the pressure on the water, accelerate your hand backwards to your thigh, in time with your hip rotation.


Your hand should accelerate from front to back, and the final push phase should be very powerful. When viewed from beneath, your hand path will follow a shallow S-shape as it moves through the stroke. This should feel natural, and shouldn't be forced.


The recovery phase starts as your hand leaves the water at your hip. For optimum efficiency, relax your elbow and wrist, keeping your elbow higher than your hand as it reaches forwards.


Ensure that your armpit is clear of the water during the recovery phase.


Power paddles or finger paddles can be used to help you focus on improving the positioning of your hands as they enter the water.


Finger paddles are a great way to focus on achieving an efficient catch and pull phase, as they encourage you to keep your fingers down and elbow up in the correct position.


Power paddles help to generate more force on the push phase.


Nathan displays a smooth and relaxed hand entry, fingertips first, in line with his shoulder, reaching forward as his body rotates.


Notice Nathan's excellent catch and high elbow positioning before he pushes the water backwards. Nathan's hand leaves the water in a relaxed position as his body rotates. He has a high hand recovery, enabling increased hip rotation to generate more power.