If swimming ain’t fun, then you are doing it wrong. You most likely are fighting the water instead of flowing thru it. Only at TOEST and jTOEST will you find coaches who know how to teach 2Beat/Freestyle technique. Read on to learn what separates those who swim with ease from those who don’t: the difference between Front Crawl (aka fighting water) and Freestyle (aka flowing thru water).

Front Crawl ≠ Freestyle

Front Crawl is a survival style of swimming taught by Red Cross, LifeSaving Society, and YMCA learn to swim programs with the specific focus on water safety: the goal is to prevent drownings by teaching how to travel 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 allowing it to be learnt in few half hour swim lessons.

What is Front Crawl? Easiest way to think of it is as a human version of dog paddle.

If you watch a dog ‘swim’ they paddle: their front legs pull water and their back legs act as a rudder with an occasional ‘kick’ to help steer. Front Crawl is no different. Someone swimming Front Crawl focuses on pulling water with their arms and either drags their legs, or occasionally kicks to restore balance or change their body position. When a front crawler does kick its also disconnected from the pull. There is no timing, no pattern, no connection between the athletes head, torso/arms, hips/pelvis and legs in front crawl.

Due to the lack of connection in the Front Crawl, there is an inherent limit to the top speed an athlete can achieve using this style of swimming. Those trying to train their Front Crawl to go faster typically defer to training sets with paddles and pull buoys. Front Crawlers desperately try to build their pull by muscling the stroke. This results in the athlete fighting the water eventually making the effort so hard it becomes self defeating.

Due to the lack of connection in Front Crawl, breathing is a problem. Without a pattern to the stroke, when do you breathe? Freestyle technique allows a relaxed breathe to be taken because there is a specific point in the stroke cycle that provides for it. There is no pattern to the stroke of Front Crawl so breathing is a constant struggle.

Due to the lack of connection in front crawl, there is no body roll. This creates all the inefficiencies Front Crawlers fight to improve by doing ‘drills’ (i.e. dropped elbows, early entry, weak catch, low elbow pull, head up breathing, dropped hips, fish-tailing, etc…). All the stroke and drill work are pointless when Front Crawl is used.

FREESTYLE

Is a technically complex pattern of movement where the pull, body rotation and kick are united into an efficient and effective 3 dimensional corkscrew pattern designed specifically to minimize resistance while moving in water (hence designed for speed).

Freestyle is the technique required for peak performance in competitive swimming, marathon/open water swimming and triathlon. Learning Freestyle starts with the 2 beat pattern, and progresses to 7 different beat patterns. The movement components of Freestyle are developed over hundreds of hours where the focus is on developing and refining the patterns, positions, and rhythms of the technique. Training begins with simple movement patterns and evolves in complexity as the level of skill integration increases.

Freestyle is taught by highly experienced individuals who have a thorough understanding of the biomechanics of the technique, and are capable of identifying the specific learning needs of the athlete to assist them in their progression along their 2Beat learning curve.

Back Crawl ≠ Backstroke

Like the Front Crawl, the Back Crawl is also taught as a survival stroke in the majority of swim lessons. The Back Crawl is not the same as the Backstroke which is the competitive stroke with 2Beat technique comparable to that of Freestyle.

Frog Stroke ≠ Breaststroke

The head up style of frog swimming that many adults use (especially those who do not want to get their face or hair wet) is not equivalent to the Breaststroke. The Breaststroke – like the Butterfly stroke – is again a 3 dimensional pattern of movement that involves coordinated movement across the pull, body roll and the kick to be executed correctly.

Why most find swimming exhausting & unenjoyable.

By this point it should no longer be surprising why swimming is exhausting and unenjoyable for many. The assumption is that ‘swim lessons’ taught you and your children how to swim, but that’s not the case. Swim lessons may have taught Front Crawl, Back Crawl and the frog so that you can cover a short distance so as not to drown, but none of these are techniques needed for actual comfortable let alone competitive swimming. Swim lessons should be rebranded as ‘water safety skills’ to eliminate the confusion and frustration.

This is why most think they know how to swim. Why not? Wouldn’t you if you took swim lessons? Absolutely. Unfortunately, most have never been taught to swim, or at least swim with proper technique, what they learnt in swim lessons is just how not to drown.

So we have three problems when it comes to swimming:

(1) most people think they know how to swim because they took swim lessons, and

(2) most swim instructors think they are teaching people how to swim (yet what they are teaching is how not to drown), and

(3) most swim coaches and triathlon coaches think that anyone (including themselves) who has taken swim lessons knows how to swim so all that’s left is forcing people to try harder to swim harder so they can swim faster.

Which all leads to a universal experience….

Most people think they are swimming when what they are doing is fighting water by using water safety skills when what is actually needed are swim skills. If you, your swim instructor, your swim coach and/or triathlon coach don’t know the difference between Front Crawl and Freestyle, I promise you that no one is going to end up having a good time.

We started TOEST and jTOEST (for junior athletes) because we want everyone to learn the joy of proper swimming technique that comes from learning how to connect with water.

We started TOEST so that masters athletes can stop using old age or never having learnt how to swim as a child as excuses to why swimming sucks, or why swimming is hard.

We started jTOEST because too many junior swimmers are quitting the sport when they stop growing (i.e. ages 12-16): the ‘easy’ gains from growing longer arms and legs are gone (which compensated for the lack of stroke skill), and not realizing that there potential has not even been scratched or seen because they haven’t actually swam with proper competitive technique, not even once.

There is another way.

Learn to connect with water.

Learn how to be ‘in’ water before you try and move through it.

Learn all the 2Beat techniques.

Then you will truly be swimming, and enjoying every minute of it.