How to Swim Better Freestyle with Nathan Adrian

Michael Butler
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If you’re looking to get a little better at freestyle swimming, it helps to study someone who is a master at it. Luckily, we caught up with Nathan Adrian while he was training for the Olympics. We asked him some questions about his freestyle stroke. His answers gave us insight into how he approaches the stroke and how you can improve your own freestyle swimming.

Identify Your Weaknesses

Nathan focuses on his weakest stroke first and then turns to his strong points. If his arms have a weakness, he trains his lower body, strengthening his hips and thighs so that he can push through his arms. He says, “I spend at least a couple months focusing on the weakness to get it to where I want it to be, and then move on to my strongest part of the stroke.”

If your arms are stronger than your legs or if you find yourself struggling to maintain a streamlined position, this strategy could help you make the most of your training. Record your workouts so that you can track your progress. This will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses.

If you’re more comfortable training on specific days of the week, you can set goals based on training sessions. You might want to practice sprinting once per week and endurance swimming on another day, for example.

Swim with the Right Gear

Take Your Swimming to the Next Level

When asked about the best way to learn how to swim freestyle correctly, Olympic gold medalist and 1:42.87 200-meter freestyle swimmer, Nathan Adrian replied, “The best way to learn how to swim freestyle is to improve your swimming technique. There are many ways of doing that, but nothing beats swimming with a wall clock and an audio cue.

I use this cue every workout. It has transformed my freestyle stroke and has helped me win a few gold medals.”

So what is this magic cue? The idea is to focus on your “hip-to-finger” position. This is how you should orient your head and body when doing the freestyle and all other swimming strokes as well.

To enable your hip-to-finger line to be as straight as possible, you need to focus on a timer or an audio cue. Swimming to the beat of the audio cue reinforces the hip-to-finger line, and doing it on a constant number (60 or 30) enables you to get a good pace and rhythm.

To learn this cue, select a video in the pool. If you are very slow, get a lane with very slow swimmers. If you are fast, get a lane with fast swimmers.