The Efficient Way to Swim Freestyle

2nd email from Jun Wen:

Thanks for your advice! It sure helped.

There is another question I would like to ask: How do I catch more water in the pool? My coach always says that I’m not catching water and I’m only pulling faster which decreases stroke efficiency.

On a side note, for Freestyle swimming, should the hands be relax during recovery and pulling phase but stiff at the wrist? 

Also, in a 400m race, must I be pulling hard all the way?

Lastly, something that has been bothering me is that there are quite a few people in my school that either don’t train much or not train at all, but yet I’m still slower than them when it comes to a 50m sprint. They always clock a personal best time every time they swim. 

It really makes me wonder, does hard work really pay off?  


My Reply: 

Water feel:

With regards to swimming technique, it is all about water feel, and it’s not always about stroke rate. Learn to focus on your stroke efficiency instead. To catch more water, try doing sculling drills to feel the water during your warm up, you should be able to have more water feel when it comes to swimming the main sets.

Besides sculling drills, you can try a simple Freestyle drill which can really improve your Freestyle technique. It’s called the Freestyle Fingertip Drag. You can refer to the video below to see how it’s done:

Freestyle Swimming Drill – Fingertip Drag 🏊

A post shared by Pang Sheng Jun 冯盛均 (@swimpsj) on

Start by kicking first, and dragging your finger tips on the surface of the water when you do your Freestyle stroke. This drill allows you enter the water gently when you swim and also ensures finger tip entry.

Things to look out for: 

1) Ensure that your kick is continuous at all times

2) Drills are all about water feel, so do not rush your strokes

3) Try to take a breath once every 4 strokes

4) Ensure a neutral head position

5) Try to keep your body as flat as possible to the water surface


The Freestyle Technique


As a Freestyle swimming specialist I will try my best to describe how I swim and hopefully it would give you a greater idea of how to swim Freestyle. Take note that that’s my own interpretation of the stroke and it may not be fully accurate.

For Freestyle swimming, focus on keeping your arms relaxed during the recovery phase of the stroke, you would be able to last longer in a race that way. Also, what Coach Gary always tells me is to enter the water gently (minimal splash) with your finger tips first, he calls it the Finger Tip Entry. Wrist should be kept with a certain pressure as to not let the water slip away during your catch.

In a 400m race, the main focus is to keep a relaxed stroke so as to be able to maintain stroke efficiency for the whole race.

Lastly, don’t always focus on the negative aspects of swimming. I’m an endurance swimmer myself, I just focus on what I need to do, which is improving my times in my 200m and 400m races, and I’m contented enough.

Always remember, hard work will always pay off, take for example your 400m Freestyle, you have been constantly improving in your times, isn’t that proof that your hard work is already paying off? So be positive, and learn to focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses!

Your friends may be able to win you for 50m sprints, but when it comes to 200m and 400m, it will be your race.

Lastly, practice makes perfect! So practice sculling and the drill I taught you and you should improve in time to come.

Anyway hope I answered your questions, and keep training hard! Feel free to ask me anything else.


Got a question as well? 

Feel free to email me at or simply leave a comment below and I will be happy to answer them for you.


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Hard Work Pays Off

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