Get Your Freestyle Head Position Right – Roland Schoeman Swimisode

 Courtesy of Gary Hall Sr., 10-time World Record Holder, 3-time Olympian, 1976 Olympic Games US Flagbearer and The Race Club co-founder.

Many freestylers swim with their heads too high. In a crowded swimming pool, swimmers often look forward, hoping to avoid a collision with one of their teammates. These defensive swimming techniques create a bad habit that slows them down. In this Swimisodes, world record holder and Olympic champ Roland Schoeman and Open Water Swimmer Lexie Kelly show how head elevation slows their swimming techniques while Japanese champion, Junya Koga, swims freestyle the way we teach at The Race Club almost effortlessly with his head in the correct swimming technique.

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Gary Hall, Sr., Technical Director and Head Coach of The Race Club (courtesy of TRC)

Gary Hall, Sr., Technical Director and Head Coach of The Race Club (courtesy of TRC)

Producer/Director/Editor: Richard Hall
Cinematographer: Frazier Nivens
Writer/Narrator: Gary Hall Sr
Sound: Gustavo Moller
Jib Operator: Mikey Montoya (Jib and Co)
Underwater Housing: AquaVideo
Filmed at our training facility Founders Park Islamorada, FL MM87

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Because Life is Worth Swimming, our mission is to promote swimming through sport, lifelong enjoyment, and good health benefits. Our objective is for each member of and each participant in The Race Club to improve his or her swimming performances, health, and self-esteem through our educational programs, services and creativity. We strive to help each member of The Race Club overcome challenges and reach his or her individual life goals.

Learn How to Fly Fast like Roland Schoeman Race Club SwimisodeThe Race Club provides facilities, coaching, training, technical instruction, video, fitness and health programs for swimmers of all ages and abilities. Race Club swim camps are designed and tailored to satisfy each swimmer’s needs, whether one is trying to reach the Olympic Games or simply improve one’s fitness. Our programs are suitable for beginner swimmers, pleasure swimmers, fitness swimmers, USA swimming or YMCA swimmers, or triathletes; anyone who wants to improve swimming skills. All of our Race Club members share an enjoyment of being in the water and use swimming to stimulate a more active mind and body.

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5 years ago

Anyone who knows anything about swimming know that Thorpe’s head up position was a conscious decision made by him and his coach due to his gigantic feet allowing him to have more depth to his kick. Swim Swam should have some standards when allowing people to peddle washed up athletes on their site.

Dan D.
5 years ago

What are your thoughts on changing the angle of the head during the freestyle stroke cycle, with the head tucked during the surge and slightly forward during the catch?

7 years ago

I agree the most logical head position is straight down. But for some reason I seem to be able to swim faster and more powerfully with the head slightly up. I am not sure why. I’m willing to try almost anything.

gary hall sr
Reply to  Mikeh
5 years ago

You have good company. Ian Thorpe (hip driven), Federica Pellegrini (shoulder driven), and many others swam very fast with the head tilted forward. The head will tilt forward naturally when we initiate a strong pulling motion in the propulsive phase (hand is about 1 foot in front of the shoulder). However, I believe it is important to tuck the head underwater during the surge phase (when the hand enters the water) in order to reduce frontal drag.
Watch the video of Zane Grothe on Swim Swam who swam 14:18 in the 1650 last month and notice his head underwater after each breath. That is precisely when you want the head down.

Reply to  gary hall sr
5 years ago

Thank you dr let me ruminate on that.

Phelps swims 200 breast rio
Reply to  gary hall sr
5 years ago

Interesting article, Gary. Your comment, “tuck the head underwater during the surge phase (when the hand enters the water)” I think a good example of this can be seen in Phelps’ freestyle. In the youtube video, Phelps Wins Record Breaking 19th Olympic Medal – London 2012 Olympics, at the 12:15-12:20 mark his head only breaks surface to breathe. Also, 9:27-9:30 is a really good underwater view of his head position looking forward.