31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence: #20 Do LESS Freestyle

How is the “31 Easy Tips…” series treating you? I hope it is helping. Implement one or two things from the list (don’t try to do too much) over the course of a few weeks and track your progress.

Today’s tip is #20: Do LESS Freestyle

Phelps is a world class in breaststroke as well as his traditional fly and free, which helps his all-round game

Yes, you read that correctly – do LESS freestyle!

Most triathletes swim freestyle and only freestyle, given that it is the fastest stroke. Fair enough.

However, experimenting with the other three strokes will benefit your swimming in a number of ways:

  • Give your freestyle-specific joints and muscles a break and avoid overuse injuries
  • Make your swim practices more interesting
  • Develop your non-freestyle muscles (e.g. strengthen your legs doing breaststroke)
  • Give you options in a race should you need to switch strokes – take a breather, fix your goggles, etc.
  • Up the intensity in the pool by adding butterfly
  • Give you confidence in your overall swimming ability by mastering the ‘other’ strokes
  • Maybe counter-intuitively, a strong kick can help with sighting in open water as you can use it to get your head out of the water and maintain forward progress

Try adding a mix of the different strokes in the warm up and warm down, and go from there. Your freestyle muscles will thank you!

Previous tips in the 31 Easy Tips series include:

#1: Drink Water First Thing in the Morning
#2: Write Down Your Goals (Now!)
#3: Ask an Expert
#4: Start Stretching
#5: Track your progress towards your Goals
#6: Take a Cold Shower
#7: Incorporate Drills into your Workouts
#8: Superfoods for Superperformance
#9: Get Some Rest
#10: Cross train
#11: Reward Yourself
#12: Don’t Breathe in the Pool
#13: Take a Bath
#14: Do Squat!
#15: Get Yourself a Mentor
#16: Do Yoga
#17: Be on Time
#18:  Leave Your Bucket of Troubles at the Door
#19: Stay Healthy!


  1. carolsheahan

    Love this tip! Ever since I stepped back into the pool last April for my tri training, I’ve made it a practice to incorporate breaststroke into my workouts. For me, it helps to break the monotony of freestyle. It helps, too, that it was my favorite stroke as a kid. 🙂 I’ve avoided the backstroke because it was my weakest stroke as a kid. The butterfly – definitely adds intensity. Another favorite stroke from my youth – I’ve given it a shot from time to time, but just don’t have the strength to get very far. Can you say “weak upper body strength?” I’ll challenge myself to work on the butterfly in the coming weeks. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Coach Eamon

      Thanks Carol. Variety is key for me. I’m not in this to get bored! In terms of fly, I hear ya – it’s tough! Start with shorter distances, eg 10m, 1/3rd of a length with rest of a length freestyle. Then increase to half and full lengths (sets of 25m with rest) and graduate on up to 50’s and mixing fly in with longer swims, e.g. 400 freestyle every 4th length butterfly. Tough, but with patience and consistency it’s just another stroke!

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