Masters Swim is FREE to members, so if you have experience with lap swimming, can swim freestyle, backstroke, and a little breaststroke and butterfly, please join us!

Tuesdays & Thursdays 12–1pm

Ryan Zamzow


Ryan Zamzow, Aqua Instructor

Summer is in full swing, and like millions across the northern hemisphere you are probably enjoying some pool time! Now is a great time to take your freestyle, also called the front crawl, to new heights. Swimmers of all skill levels, from beginner to advanced, can improve their stroke with the freestyle-6-kick-switch. A foundational drill in swim lessons, and used by top-level competitive swimmers, this drill is a one-stop-shop to build an efficient and graceful freestyle. Its benefits are two-fold. First, like any great drill, it simply slows down the stroke. When you practice things slowly your nervous system can focus and learn the mechanics quickly. Secondly, it has tremendous versatility. Use fins to focus on rotation and other fine elements of the stoke. Slap paddles on and feel the power-stroke of the pull phase; or, go full equipment with fins and paddles to perfect mechanics while stimulating muscle development. Now that you are thoroughly convinced this drill will improve your freestyle, let us dive in, shall we?

Push off the wall in the normal streamline position. Then pull one arm down, leave the other arm extended, and slightly rotate your body onto the side of your extended arm. The cadence of the drill is: 1…2…3-BREATHE-4…5…6-SWITCH. Simple enough, right? Until you hop in the pool and give it a try. Through the years of teaching this drill I have seen some creative variations, like: 1…2…3-BREATHE-SWITCH, and, 1…2…3-BREATHE-SWITCH-BREATHE, even as wild as, 1…2…3-BREATHE-4…5…6-BREATHE-SWITCH-BREATHE…you get the idea. Repeating the cadence in your head while you perform the drill is the best way to ensure proper form.

Throughout the cadence, one arm is extended above the head (the ‘up’ arm) and one arm is sitting on the side of the body with the hand on the thigh (the ‘down’ arm). Breathing is executed by turning the head to the side of the down arm. Exhaling underwater during the 1…2…3 leads to a nice quick breath during the breathing phase. ‘SWITCH’ means that the arm positions switch places ̶ the up arm pulls through the water and the down arm recovers over the top. Hold your breath during the 4…5…6-SWITCH and begin to exhale on the 1…2…3 of the next cycle.

Well, that’s it! Now it’s time to jump in and give it a try. The beauty of this drill is its ability to allow the swimmer to focus on every aspect of the stroke. Head position, long body, extended arms, smooth kick, and timing. As always, if you see me on the pool deck, flag me down and I am always happy to help you out and give you some pointers.