Swimming blog - freestyle and TIMING Stroke timing: connecting the dots for maximum efficiency.

Stroke timing in freestyle swimming refers to the coordination and rhythm of the arm and leg movements during each stroke cycle. Each phase of the cycle has a specific timing and sequence of movements and we would like to break down several phases of the stroke that when you time them well together, you will find yourself gliding through the water with less effort per stroke and maximum propulsion. 

 1. Entry + Push Out
The entry is when the hand enters the water at the front of the stroke. The entry occurs at approximately the same time as the opposite arm's push-out. When timed well, in combination with an active and excellerated extension of both arms, you will experience a beautiful stroke glide for a brief moment. This extension of the arms is driven by actively rotating the hips for optimal propulsion and reach.

2. Recovery & Catch 
Proper timing and coordination between the catch and arm recovery are crucial for an efficient stroke. At SwimGym we promote the 'catch-up timing' for most swimmers when swimming on an easy pace. The catch-up timing maximises efficiency and length per stroke and builds that strong, well balanced freestyle technique. This means that the catch should be initiated when the other arm is approximately halfway its recovery. The catch-up stroke timing technique helps to ensure proper arm coordination and timing during the freestyle swimming stroke. It encourages a more balanced stroke by allowing each arm to fully finish its pull, while the extended arm is 'surfing' the water during the gliding phase.

3. Kick
The arm movements should be coordinated with the kick to maintain balance and propulsion. The kick should generally be timed with the opposite arm's entry or extending phase to maintain a steady rhythm throughout the stroke. When timed well, wether you are doing a 2-beat kick or 6-beat kick, you will create momentum in your stroke that keeps you balanced and enhances your glide at the same time. The kick basically joins the entry and push-out like mentioned previously: left hand entry + right push-out + right kick = perfect stroke timing!

Overall, stroke timing in freestyle swimming is about finding a balance between the arm and leg movements and coordinating them to generate maximum power and efficiency in the water. There are some great drills to practice your stroke timing, such as the Catch-Up drill, Switch Drill or even the Single Leg Flutter Kick to control your kick timing. We have made it easy for you by putting together a 5-week Stroke Timing Course at SwimGym.com so head on over there and give it a try!


The single arm freestyle is used to isolate one arm to really focus on specific elements of your stroke, from the recovery and the catch to the pull-through and push out. It allows you to slow down and take it step by step.

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