Is a ‘survival style’ of swimming taught by Red Cross, LifeSaving Society, and YMCA ‘learn to swim’ programs which focus on water safety: prevent drownings by teaching how to swim short distances unassisted (e.g. to the side of a pool, or to a boat or platform in open water). The Front Crawl requires a low level of skill thus allowing it to be gained in a matter of hours.


Is a highly technical and complex pattern of movement intended for pursuing peak performance in the sports of competitive swimming and triathlon, and is taught by educated and experienced instructors and coaches. Freestyle is developed over thousands of hours of training focusing on the acquisition, development, and refinement of skills, form, and technique which progress in complexity and degree of integration.

Applies equally to the BACK CRAWL vs. BACKSTROKE.

The FRONT CRAWL is an appropriate level of swimming ability for those who intend to pursue and complete Red Cross, LifeSaving Society, and YMCA swim levels and is sufficient for those who want to become Swim Instructors and Lifeguards.

The FRONT CRAWL is sufficient to keep novice to sport level athletes who enjoy water sports such as snorkeling, scuba, recreational swimming, water skiing, and windsurfing, safe and independent while in the water as it reduces the risk of drowning.

The FRONT CRAWL is insufficient technical swimming ability to train and to compete in the sports of competitive swimming and triathlon. Athletes interested in pursuing competitive swimming and triathlon need to progress to FREESTYLE swimming technique.

No athlete at the National or International level swims with FRONT CRAWL technique.

The error that athletes, parents, and coaches are making in the sports of competitive swimming and triathlon:

(1) assuming that the FRONT CRAWL is equivalent to FREESTYLE swimming technique;

(2) assuming that the FRONT CRAWL is sufficient for training and competing with a swim team or in triathlons;

(3) assuming that the difference between FRONT CRAWL and FREESTYLE is widely understood;

(4) assuming that Swim Ontario affiliated swim clubs automatically teach FREESTYLE to all swimmers;

(5) assuming that triathlon clubs & coaches know and teach FREESTYLE to their athletes.

How to tell if you or your athlete is swimming with FRONT CRAWL or FREESTYLE?

If you or your athlete…

– Wiggles like spaghetti or fish tails while swimming,
– Is trying to “push” water backwards with their pull,
– Is training consistently with pull buoys and paddles,
– Is training to increase the strength of their “push”,
– Does not kick or has no power or specific intent to their kick,
– Does not coordinate the pull of the stroke to the kick of the stroke,
– Does not time the location of breathing to the rhythm of their stroke,
– Does not have multiple gears in their stroke to switch through,
– Does not modulate body line and position to improve their torque curve,
– Is attempting to swim faster by trying harder and harder,
– Paces in competition by perceived effort as opposed to technique,
– Is exhausted after swimming laps or is unable to swim continuous laps.

They are not swimming FREESTYLE, they are swimming FRONT CRAWL.

If you currently train with a swim or triathlon team, club or coach, and upon asking them what is the difference between the Front Crawl and Freestyle, if you receive either a blank stare or the question back “there is a difference?“, you are with the wrong team, the wrong club, the wrong coach.

If you are seeking your potential and peak performance as a competitive swimmer and/or triathlete – which does not come at the expense of your mental, emotional, or physical health – then find a team, a club, a coach who knows the difference between Front Crawl and Freestyle.

The State of Swimming in Canada and in Ontario is as it is because unfortunately the majority of swim clubs and swim coaches have no idea that there is a difference between the Front Crawl and Freestyle, and instead of training technique, skill acquisition and form, they train athletes harder and harder believing that forcing athletes to swim hard – as opposed to training them to swim smarter – will achieve desired results. If that was true, then the state of swimming would be far different.