From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about the general unregulated
swimming style. For the front crawl
, the most common
freestyle stroke, see front crawl
. For other uses of
, see freestyle
Freestyle is an unregulated swimming style
used in swimming competitions according to the
rules of FINA. The front crawl stroke is almost universally
used during a freestyle race, as this style is generally the
fastest. As such the term freestyle is often used as a
synonym for the front crawl.
Competitors in freestyle swimming can use any of the unregulated
strokes such as front
crawl, dog paddle,
Standalone freestyle events can also be swum using one of the
officially regulated strokes (breaststroke, butterfly, and backstroke). For the freestyle part of medley
competitions, however, one cannot use breaststroke, butterfly, or
backstroke. Most competitive swimmers choose the front crawl during
freestyle competitions, as this style provides the greatest speed.
Freestyle competitions have also been swum completely and partially
in other styles, especially at lower ranking competitions as some
swimmers find their backstroke quicker than their front crawl.
During the Olympic
Games, front crawl is swum almost exclusively during
New developments in the
Times have consistently dropped over the years due to better
training techniques and to new developments in the sport.
In the first four Olympics, competitions were not held in pools,
but, rather, in open water (1896- the Mediterranean Sea, 1900- the Seine river, 1904- an artificial
lake, 1906- the Mediterranean Sea). The 1904
Olympics freestyle race was the only one ever measured at 100
yards, instead of the usual 100 metres. A 100 metre pool was built
for the 1908 Olympics and sat in the
center of the main stadium's track and field oval. The 1912
Olympics, held in the Stockholm harbour, marked the beginning of
Male swimmers wore full body suits up until the 1940s, which
caused more drag in the water than their modern swimwear
counterparts. Also, over the years, some design considerations have
reduced swimming resistance making the pool faster -
namely proper pool depth, elimination of currents, increased lane
width, energy-absorbing racing lane lines and gutters, and the use
of other innovative hydraulic, acoustic and illumination
The 1924 Olympics were the first to
use the standard 50 metre pool with marked lanes. In the freestyle,
swimmers originally dove from the pool walls, but diving blocks
were eventually incorporated at the 1936 Olympics. The tumble turn
("flip-turn") was developed by the 1950s. The Trudgen, introduced in England in the 1880s,
has been completely supplanted by the front crawl, also known as the
Freestyle means any style for individual distances
and any style but breaststroke, butterfly and backstroke for medley
competitions. The wall has to be touched at every turn and upon
completion. Some part of the swimmer has to be above water at any
time except for the first 15 m after the start and every turn. This
rule was introduced to avoid certain swimmers who would use the
faster underwater swimming to their advantage, and swim entire laps
underwater. (see: History of swimming). The exact
FINA rules are:
- Freestyle means that in an event so designated the swimmer may
swim any style, except that in individual medley or medley relay
events, freestyle means any style other than backstroke,
breaststroke or butterfly.
- Some part of the swimmer must touch the wall upon completion of
each length and at the finish.
- Some part of the swimmer must break the surface of the water
throughout the race, except it shall be permissible for the swimmer
to be completely submerged during the turn and for a distance of
not more than 15 metres after the start and each turn. By that
point the head must have broken the surface.
There are eight common competitions swum in freestyle swimming,
both over either a long course (50 m pool) or a short course (25 m
pool). The United States also employs short course yards (25 yard
pool). Of course, other distances are also swum on occasion.
- 50 m freestyle
- 100 m freestyle
- 200 m freestyle
- 400 m freestyle (500 yards for short course yards)
- 800 m freestyle (1000 yards for short course yards)
- 1500 m freestyle (1650 yards for short course yards)
- 4×100 m freestyle relay
- 4×200 m freestyle relay
Young swimmers (typically 8 years old and younger) may swim a 25
yard or 25 metre freestyle event. These shorter events are usually
for swimmers who are slower than similarly aged swimmers or may
have difficulty swimming longer distances.
Freestyle is also part of the medley over the following
- 100 m individual medley (short 25 m pool only)
- 200 m individual medley
- 400 m individual medley
- 4×100 m medley relay
In the long distance races of 800 m and 1500 m, meets hosted by
FINA (including the Olympics) only have the 800 m distance for
women and the 1500 m distance for men. However, FINA does keep
records in the 1500 metre distance for women and the 800 metre
distance for men, and many meets in the United States have both
distances for both genders.
long course world champions in freestyle
- Hines, Emmett W. (1998).
Fitness Swimming. Human Kinetics Publishers. ISBN
- Laughlin, Terry
(2001). Swimming Made Easy: The Total Immersion Way for Any
Swimmer to Achieve Fluency, Ease, and Speed in Any Stroke.
Total Immersion Inc. ISBN
- Colwin, Cecil (2002).
Breakthrough Swimming. Human Kinetics Publishers. ISBN
- The Macquarie Dictionary
Online. Macquarie Dictionary Publishers Pty Ltd.