Stroke Drills
Freestyle kick on your side, with the lower arm, extended (parallel to the surface of the water, about 6-8" under the water) and the upper (above water) arm relaxed on the side of your body. After a 4-count, stroke with the underwater arm and recover with the above water arm, so that they switch positions and you're now rotated to the other side. Count again for 4 and switch. Breath on the new side, just after you rotate, then return your face to the water, looking at the bottom in a great freestyle swimming position. Keep your head, neck, and spine in a align.
Breaststroke drill - 2 kicks, 1 pull:
Swimming breaststroke with 1 pull and then 2 kicks. Focus on length in stroke.
Breaststroke drill – flutter kick:
Swimming breaststroke with flutter kick. Focus on fast arms.
A freestyle stroke drill where both hands "catch up" in the front of the stroke. Keep the extended arm and hand underwater and enter the "incoming" hand closer to your shoulder and extend it to meet the other hand underwater. The focus is on keeping the stroke length and a hand in the "passing-zone" upfront.
Fingertip Drag:
Freestyle swim dragging your fingertips in the water on the recovery. Focus is on high-elbow, relaxed arm, and shoulder recovery.
Fist Drill:
Swimming with a closed fist through the entire stroke. This is great to get a “feel for the water.”
Long-axis-combo drill:
This is a combination of the long-axis strokes—freestyle and backstroke. Take four strokes of freestyle then rotate to your back and swim four strokes of backstroke, then free, then back ... Feel the similar rhythm of these two strokes as you rotate along the long axis of your body.
Rhythm Drill:
After you've mastered the single-arm freestyle with the opposite arm at your side, try this great freestyle drill to improve stroke timing. This is basically 2 right-arm strokes (with opposite arm down) and then 2 left-arm strokes. Remember to rotate, keep your head in line with your spine, and complete your stroke while your bottom arm is extended before you begin the stroke.
Rhythm Drill for backstroke:
Alternate 2 strokes of right-arm-only backstroke with 2 strokes of left-arm-only backstroke. Keep the opposite (non-working) arm at your side. Focus on core body rotation, keeping your head still and in line with your spine and stroke rhythm. Rhythm drill for breaststroke:
Swimming breaststroke using a dolphin kick. Feel the rhythm, and the body motion.
Short-axis-combo drill:
This is a combination of the short-axis strokes—breaststroke and butterfly. Take three strokes of the butterfly then three strokes of breaststroke, then fly, then breast ... Feel the similar rhythm of these two strokes as you rotate along the short axis of your body.
Propel yourself down the pool using a simple in/out sweeping motion of your hands. The pitch and speed of your hand will determine how fast you go. Use a light kick and lift your head to breathe. Gallop drill:
The gallop drill is exactly like the 4-kick-drill except that you will take three strokes when transitioning from one side to the other. Do not breathe while taking those three strokes, focusing on length in your stroke, body rotation, keeping your head still. Breath on the new side as you rotate for the four-count. This is a great drill for working on alternate breathing and stroke symmetry.
Single-arm butterfly:
Swim fly with one arm only. You may choose to keep the opposite arm in front or at your side. Breath to the side of the working arm.
Single-arm-freestyle with opposite arm extended:
Keeping the non-working arm extended in front, stroke only with the Right or Left arm as indicated. Focus on a clean hand entry into the water; a slow, high-elbow catch; and accelerating the hand through the stroke.
With the opposite arm at your side:
This is a bit more challenging drill, but worth the effort. Start by kicking on your side with the bottom arm extended and your top arm resting on your side. Keeping your top arm (the non-working arm) at your side, stroke with the bottom arm.
Important tips for this drill: (1) rotate, rotate, rotate; (2) Breath to the opposite (non-working) side and complete the breath before you stroke. Focus on holding the water at the catch and moving your body past your hand with your core muscles.

Freestyle Article published in 2005 in USMS Swimmer Magazine