46 - Front Crawl NOT “Freestyle” Swimming #HotTake

TL:DR | I HATE the term “freestyle” it is pointless because if you actually look at what it says, then you’ll know that it means “any way you want”. However wherever you go people assume you are going to do a Frontcrawl style stroke. Here is why it irks me so much.

3 min read
46 - Front Crawl NOT “Freestyle” Swimming #HotTake

Look it is not called Freestyle, and I always make sure my clients use the proper term.

If you’re a new swimmer this may not mean much to you, but for some competitive people this is quite the hot take. I’ll explain my reasoning later on in this week’s newsletter entry.

Why + Philosophy:

Why should I even care that much about just a name or term to use? When you are at a meet, they are going to say Freestyle, and what they mean is the front crawl stroke.

Even in this simple video they use both terms just to make it easier for people to get it, and for the search engine to tag it for both.

Front crawl - Wikipedia

How + Physics:

Both terms are for the ideal swimming motion, where your body is facing down, and it gives you the optimal range of motion. At least as compared to the other main strokes: breaststroke, backstroke, and butterfly.

Starting out in a "streamline" (something we talk about during the posts about glides), which is simply your body taking up as little space as possible/squeezed together. Then you start kicking, and from there you can do your arms.

Hence the "3 Simple Steps of Swimming" I created to simplify this process to memory. Legs, Face, Arms, - 1,2,3, or kicking legs straight, face down, arms out of the water/diving back in.

The final step being a bit longer, but most important for acceleration. Kicking gives you the baseline, but the arms add the speed.

What + Psychology:

What I just described there could be called Front Crawl, Australian crawl, or American crawl, but the essentials are that you are crawling through the water. Not to mention you are face down into the water.

Freestyle on the other hand is not the same thing.

The term 'freestyle stroke' is sometimes used as a synonym for 'front crawl',[3] as front crawl is the fastest surface swimming stroke.[4] It is now the most common stroke used in freestyle competitions.[5]

Now while the Frontcrawl is the main style of swimming in these "freestyle" competitions, it doesn't mean that freestyle IS frontcrawl. They are not really interchangeable, despite being used as a synonym. Hence why I made this hot-take post today.


In the end if you say freestyle, me or whoever you're with will understand, but honestly I might make you swim EXTRA for saying it.

People are going to get what you mean, but it is better if we use the more specific term in the long run.


This is advice for people to level up their swimming, or perhaps get started in the first place. While you swim you should make sure you are doing so in a public facility with a lifeguard on duty for safety.

This particular post is more of an educated opinion piece, but take it with a grain of salt. Not to mention at some points for simplicity's sake you'll have to say freestyle over frontcrawl. Even if it is wrong, it doesn't change the current norm. Only time can!

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