At this moment, I am able to swimming 3KM by breathstroke without taking rest.

But each time I swim with free-stroke, I can hardly complete a 50M session, and my legs become soar and fatigue, especially at the last 10M, and I can hardly maintain a position that can keep me floating and move forward.

And this is how I tried. For the first 20M, I take one breath for every 4 to 6 stroke, After 20M, the muscle is weakened, and need more breath. I tried to take breath for every 3 stroke..but it make me feel very hard and failing to keep a good body position, thus slower the speed and harder to move...

So my target is to complete a 50M session more relaxed without feeling so hard that I nearly sink: how should I improve so that I limbs can be a little relaxed and burn less oxygen , at the moment speed is not my concern.

  • 1
    2 contributing factors (In high probability anyway). 1 - You don't breathe out when your face is in the water. You should always breathe out underwater, even in breaststroke. 2 - You don't point your toes and kick from your knees. This allows your hips and legs to sink in the water. I would recommend lessons if you can get them. Otherwise you can look at swimsmooth.com or many youtube videos.
    – JohnP
    Nov 29, 2014 at 13:29
  • Thanks guys for the answers and comments, I just read this thread: fitness.stackexchange.com/questions/5171/… and watch few total immersion tutorial, like this: youtube.com/watch?v=X51-9Unn0jc I try kick less but it ends up sinking the lower part of the body.... I guess the key is to release the force from the hips?
    – RAY
    Nov 30, 2014 at 4:53
  • 2
    OK, after practice one month of the total immersion skills. -Two beat kick -relaxing front arm. -Bended elbow during recover phase when the arm finish stroke. I can now swim 400M with freestyle now
    – RAY
    Dec 29, 2014 at 5:59

2 Answers 2


What you're describing is, in my limited experience, the most frequent beginner's issue with the free-stroke. Suffice it to say, I had the same problem when I started out. This answer will be largely based on my own experience, rather than classical training methods, since I had to learn it by myself.

That said, you seem like a proficient swimmer, so it's likely that by simply keeping at it, you'll intuitively grasp it.

I'm going to assume (since you didn't specify, but mentioned early fatigue in legs) that you're experiencing the same problems I did, where your upper body is keeping afloat, but your legs are sinking, thereby causing you to use far more energy than needed to keep them up.

For myself, I noticed that the reason why my legs were sinking, wasn't how I was moving them, but the fact that my arms were pushing straight down into the water before they pushed backwards. This downward push, pushed my torso UP, which resulted in a non-flat body position with my legs suddenly lower. This, repeated, was one of the issues. Focus on pushing the water backwards right away.

Another issue is kicking with your knees. This creates a lot of drag, as well as up-and-down motion. You should keep your knees straight, and might even benefit from improving ankle flexibility.

Then, there was a tip I was getting from another swimmer, because it was very obvious. My head tilt. I was looking straight ahead, at the wall I was swimming towards. This is ok if you're already very proficient. For beginners though, it might cause legs to sink. Instead, keep your head in a position where you're looking straight down. The point here is that you lower your torso and level your body.


This of course has to do with your swimming technique, and it is quite normal.

Unlike running, swimming requires that part of your training is specifically devoted to learning the technique. That is, your workouts cannot be composed alone by breast stroke, front crawl and so on, but also you have to devote certain amount of time to specific swimming drills aimed at focusing only on a single component of swimming at a time (e.g. the leg kicks or how to breathe). Here is an example youtube list

Swimming workouts usually combine sessions with different kinds of swimming drills. You may choose to ignore the drills and simply keep on trying, but then it is very difficult that you achieve a decently efficient front crawl style. Furthermore, the more you swim with bad form, the more difficult to correct your swimming patterns in the future.

Additional Warning: You seem to have been swimming quite a lot by means of breaststroke only. Improper breaststroke technique may be eventually bad for your knees. The whipkick used in the breaststroke easily leads to problems. This is the well known "Swimmer's Knee" or "Breaststroker's Knee". A good workout should combine different swimming styles. Try focusing your attention on your technique rather than on your mileage.

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