Apr 292012

Ok, probably a no-brainer for most of you, but did you know that there are a variety of freestyle types? Sure, we all know that your freestyle may look different than your “gutter buddies”. But did you know that there are formal names for some of those different looks? Well, thanks to The Race Club, we’ve got some good descriptions of those different styles along with when you might want to change up and try a different style.

In the video link at the end of this post, Gary Hall Sr (Olympian and super freestyler!) demonstrates and narrates four different styles:

  1. Hip Driven Freestyle
  2. Shoulder Driven Freestyle
  3. Shoulder Driven 2-beat kick Freestyle
  4. Hybrid Freestyle

“Yeah, so what?” you might be saying. Well, check it out. A shoulder driven freestyle is used when you need to get up and go – you know, when you want to beat the person in the lane next to you. But a hip driven stroke might be what you would apply in your warm ups and in longer swims. Here’s a brief breakdown of each style. To really understand them, check out the video link below.

  1. Hip Driven. This is a style you might use in longer events. It has a lower stroke rate, roughly 67-71. In this style, your hand enters and extends out front and holds just a little longer than the other styles. Your hip is driving the rotation and your shoulders. This requires a good steady kick in order to do this style correctly.
  2. Shoulder Driven. You see this in 50 freestyles and some swimmers mix two styles of freestyle in a race and use this shoulder driven style at the end of their race. It has a much higher stroke rate, anywhere from 80-90. In this style, the hand enters and catches quickly, going into that early vertical forearm right after entry. Your hand doesn’t extend on entry, it catches quickly and drives that stroke rate higher. Your shoulders are the driving force here.
  3. Shoulder Driven with a 2-Beat Kick. This is rare as it is tougher to pull off an increased stroke rate with a very low kick rate. Here your leg kicks opposite of the arm stroke. So if you are about to enter the water with your right hand, your left foot starts the down kick. Your stroke rate on this hovers around 90. I find this darned impossible, as my legs want to kick furiously!
  4. Hybrid Freestyle. This has emerged over the last several years. You see it in some of the Olympians like Jason Lezak, Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps. You’ll recognize it because the swimmer seems to have a “hitch” in their stroke. In this hybrid style, swimmers are combining a shoulder driven style with a hip driven style. They have a quick catch on one side (shoulder driven) and on their breathing side they are using a hip driven style as they push out their shoulder and hold their catch just a little longer on the breathing side. This is often seen on 200s or 400s (or longer such as in open water). You do need strong legs for this stroke style to be effective. The stroke rate is generally 75-85.

Here is the video link: http://www.theraceclub.net/videos/freestyle-picking-the-right-technique/ Hit the water and see if you can do each of these styles. Can you change your style to get up and go? Or, if you are already that shoulder driven style, can you switch to either a hybrid or hip driven style?


  One Response to “TOW April 29-May 5, 2012 – Freestyle “Styles””

  1. […] week I posted on different freestyle forms (see TOW April 29-May 5). While there are a variety of styles in freestyle, all should share one common trait – Early […]

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