You know that not everyone has swims with the same style or rhythm in freestyle. This video by The Race Club and Gary Hall Snr provides a great breakdown of the different freestyle techniques. There’s more than one way to swim, and any coach that tries to tell you that there is only one is incorrect.

These are the three types:

  1. Hip-driven technique: Hip-driven freestyle is used by Ian Thorpe, Grant Hackett, Larsen Jensen and  Libby Trickett and is a slower-stroke-rate freestyle. It is typically swam at 60 to 70 strokes a minute.The hand holds the water in front after the entry before beginning the propulsive motion backward. The slower time of the arm pull cycle allows the swimmer to get a bigger hip turn and generate a larger counter force to pull against. This increases the distance from each stroke. It’s better swum in distances over 200 meters and a strong six beat is needed to swim it fast.
  2. Shoulder-driven technique: Shoulder-driven freestyle is used by Peter Van den Hoogenband, Janet Evans and Alexander Popov and is a higher-stroke-rate technique. It’s swam at 80-110 strokes per minute.The entry hander catches quicker and the release is done sooner which results in a faster stroke rate but less hip rotation. Not as much power is generated from the pull but because there is more strokes it makes up for the power difference. The shoulders typically rotate more than the hips in this technique. Two beat and six beat kick are both acceptable, though only a six beat kick should be used when sprinting
  3. Hybrid technique: In recent years a number of swimmers are drawing on elements of both techniques. It is becoming increasingly popular for middle distance swimmers (100, 200 and 400 meters) who draw on the advantages of both techniques and opt for a hybrid freestyle.They use one arm with shoulder-driven technique and the other arm uses a hip- driven technique. It has become popularised by Michael Phelps. It requires a very strong kick and breathing to one side and can be used in open water swims if you have a strong kick

Our Mastering Freestyle program is an excellent drill program for developing a hip driven stroke.

You can find out more about the three types of freestyle at The Race Club.