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Freestyle swimming

Freestyle swimming

Overview

Freestyle is an unregulated swimming style used in swimming competitions
Swimming (sport)
Swimming is a sport governed by the Fédération Internationale de Natation .-History: Competitive swimming in Europe began around 1800 BCE, mostly in the form of the freestyle. In 1873 Steve Bowyer introduced the trudgen to Western swimming competitions, after copying the front crawl used by Native...

 according to the rules of FINA
International Swimming Federation
Fédération Internationale de Natation is the International Federation recognized by the International Olympic Committee for administering international competition in the aquatic sports...

. The front crawl
Front crawl
The front crawl, forward crawl, or freestyle is a swimming stroke usually regarded as the fastest of the four front primary strokes. As such, the front crawl stroke is nearly universally used during a freestyle swimming competition, hence the synonymously used term "freestyle". It is one of two...

 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
Front crawl
The front crawl, forward crawl, or freestyle is a swimming stroke usually regarded as the fastest of the four front primary strokes. As such, the front crawl stroke is nearly universally used during a freestyle swimming competition, hence the synonymously used term "freestyle". It is one of two...

, dog paddle, sidestroke
Sidestroke
The sidestroke is a swimming stroke, so named because the swimmer lies on one side and it is helpful as a lifesaving technique and is often used for long-distance swimming. The sidestroke allows the swimmer increased endurance because, instead of working both arms and legs simultaneously in the...

, etc.
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Encyclopedia

Freestyle is an unregulated swimming style used in swimming competitions
Swimming (sport)
Swimming is a sport governed by the Fédération Internationale de Natation .-History: Competitive swimming in Europe began around 1800 BCE, mostly in the form of the freestyle. In 1873 Steve Bowyer introduced the trudgen to Western swimming competitions, after copying the front crawl used by Native...

 according to the rules of FINA
International Swimming Federation
Fédération Internationale de Natation is the International Federation recognized by the International Olympic Committee for administering international competition in the aquatic sports...

. The front crawl
Front crawl
The front crawl, forward crawl, or freestyle is a swimming stroke usually regarded as the fastest of the four front primary strokes. As such, the front crawl stroke is nearly universally used during a freestyle swimming competition, hence the synonymously used term "freestyle". It is one of two...

 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.

Technique


Competitors in freestyle swimming can use any of the unregulated strokes such as front crawl
Front crawl
The front crawl, forward crawl, or freestyle is a swimming stroke usually regarded as the fastest of the four front primary strokes. As such, the front crawl stroke is nearly universally used during a freestyle swimming competition, hence the synonymously used term "freestyle". It is one of two...

, dog paddle, sidestroke
Sidestroke
The sidestroke is a swimming stroke, so named because the swimmer lies on one side and it is helpful as a lifesaving technique and is often used for long-distance swimming. The sidestroke allows the swimmer increased endurance because, instead of working both arms and legs simultaneously in the...

, etc. Stand-alone freestyle events can also be swum using one of the officially regulated strokes (breaststroke
Breaststroke
The breaststroke is a swimming style in which the swimmer is on his or her chest and the torso does not rotate. It is the most popular recreational style due to its stability and the ability to keep the head out of the water a large portion of the time. In most swimming classes, beginners learn...

, butterfly
Butterfly stroke
The butterfly is a swimming stroke swum on the breast, with both arms moving simultaneously. The butterfly kick was developed separately, and is also known as the "dolphin kick"...

, and backstroke
Backstroke
The backstroke, also sometimes called the back crawl, is one of the four swimming styles regulated by FINA, and the only regulated style swum on the back. This has the advantage of easy breathing, but the disadvantage of swimmers not being able to see where they are going. It is also the only...

). For the freestyle part of medley
Medley swimming
Medley is a combination of four different swimming styles into one race. This race is either swum by one swimmer as individual medley or by four swimmers as a medley relay...

 competitions, however, one cannot use breaststroke, butterfly, or backstroke. Most competitive swimmers choose the Australian or front crawl during freestyle competitions, as this style provides the greatest speed. It is based on the Trudgen that was improved by Australian-born Richmond Cavill from Sydney, Australia. Cavill developed the stroke by observing a young boy from the Solomon Island, Alick Wickham. Cavill and his brothers spread the Australian crawl to England, New Zealand and America. Richmond Cavill used this stroke in 1902 at an International Championships in England to set a new world record by swimming 100 yards (91 m) in 58.4 seconds. 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
Olympic Games
The Olympic Games is a major international event featuring summer and winter sports, in which thousands of athletes participate in a variety of competitions. The Olympic Games have come to be regarded as the world’s foremost sports competition where more than 200 nations participate...

, front crawl is swum almost exclusively during freestyle. Some of the only rules are that swimmers must touch the end of the pool during each length and cannot push off the bottom or hang on the wall or pull on the lane lines during the course of the race. As with all competitive events, false starts are not allowed (the number of false starts depends upon the particular competitive rules for that competition).

New developments in the sport


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
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

, 1900- the Seine
Seine
The Seine is a -long river and an important commercial waterway within the Paris Basin in the north of France. It rises at Saint-Seine near Dijon in northeastern France in the Langres plateau, flowing through Paris and into the English Channel at Le Havre . It is navigable by ocean-going vessels...

 river, 1904- an artificial lake, 1906- the Mediterranean Sea). The 1904 Olympics
1904 Summer Olympics
The 1904 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the III Olympiad, was an international multi-sport event which was celebrated in St. Louis, Missouri, in the United States from 1 July 1904, to November 23, 1904, at what is now known as Francis Field on the campus of Washington University...

 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
1908 Summer Olympics
The 1908 Summer Olympics, officially the Games of the IV Olympiad, were an international multi-sport event which was held in 1908 in London, England, United Kingdom. These games were originally scheduled to be held in Rome. At the time they were the fifth modern Olympic games...

 and sat in the centre of the main stadium's track and field oval. The 1912 Olympics
1912 Summer Olympics
The 1912 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the V Olympiad, were an international multi-sport event held in Stockholm, Sweden, between 5 May and 27 July 1912. Twenty-eight nations and 2,407 competitors, including 48 women, competed in 102 events in 14 sports...

, held in the Stockholm
Stockholm
Stockholm is the capital and the largest city of Sweden and constitutes the most populated urban area in Scandinavia. Stockholm is the most populous city in Sweden, with a population of 851,155 in the municipality , 1.37 million in the urban area , and around 2.1 million in the metropolitan area...

 harbour, marked the beginning of electronic timing.

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
Drag (physics)
In fluid dynamics, drag refers to forces which act on a solid object in the direction of the relative fluid flow velocity...

 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 designs.

The 1924 Olympics
1924 Summer Olympics
The 1924 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the VIII Olympiad, were an international multi-sport event which was celebrated in 1924 in Paris, France...

 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
1936 Summer Olympics
The 1936 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XI Olympiad, was an international multi-sport event which was held in 1936 in Berlin, Germany. Berlin won the bid to host the Games over Barcelona, Spain on April 26, 1931, at the 29th IOC Session in Barcelona...

. The tumble turn
Tumble turn
A tumble turn, or flip turn is a technique of turns in swimming, used to reverse the direction in which the person is swimming. It is usually done when the swimmer reaches the end of the swimming pool but still has one or more lengths to swim....

 ("flip-turn") was developed by the 1950s. The Trudgen
Trudgen
The trudgen is a swimming stroke sometimes known as the racing stroke, or the East Indian stroke. It is named after the English swimmer John Trudgen ....

, introduced in England in the 1880s, has been completely supplanted by the front crawl
Front crawl
The front crawl, forward crawl, or freestyle is a swimming stroke usually regarded as the fastest of the four front primary strokes. As such, the front crawl stroke is nearly universally used during a freestyle swimming competition, hence the synonymously used term "freestyle". It is one of two...

, also known as the Australian crawl.
Lane design cut down turbulence in water in the early 1970s.

Rules and regulation


Freestyle means any style for individual distances and any style but breaststroke, butterfly or backstroke for medley competitions. The wall has to be touched at every turn and upon completion. Some part of the swimmer must be above water at any time, except for the first 15 metres after the start and every turn. This rule was introduced (see History of swimming
History of swimming
Swimming has been recorded since prehistoric times; the earliest recording of swimming dates back to Stone Age paintings from around 7,000 years ago. Written references date from 2000 BC. Some of the earliest references to swimming include the Gilgamesh, the Iliad, the Odyssey, the Bible, Beowulf,...

) to prevent swimmers from using the faster underwater swimming to their advantage, or even swimming entire laps underwater. 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.

Competitions



There are eight common competitions swum in freestyle swimming, both over either a long course (50 m pool) or a short course
Short course
In Swimming, the term Short Course is used to identify a pool that is 25 metres in length. The term is also often included in meet names when conducted in a short course pool...

 (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)
  • 4×50 m freestyle relay
  • 4×100 m freestyle relay
    Relay race
    During a relay race, members of a team take turns running, orienteering, swimming, cross-country skiing, biathlon, or ice skating parts of a circuit or performing a certain action. Relay races take the form of professional races and amateur games...

  • 4×200 m freestyle relay
    Relay race
    During a relay race, members of a team take turns running, orienteering, swimming, cross-country skiing, biathlon, or ice skating parts of a circuit or performing a certain action. Relay races take the form of professional races and amateur games...



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 distances:
  • 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, some 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 the FINA World Championships, as well as many other meets, have both distances for both genders.

Men


Women


External links