I recently read an article on head position from The Race Club, by Gary Hall Sr., in which Mr. Hall discusses the head position while swimming freestyle. He mentions both looking forward and looking down as being correct, depending on the style of freestyle you might be swimming at the time. I’ve copied excerpts of the article below and use the link above to read it in its entirety.
At One with the Water, we teach freestyle in the commonly referred to as “3 Styles of Freestyle.” A stroke for each race so-to-speak. If you’re swimming a very long distance race, or just getting in to move your body for an hour on a work break, then you most likely aren’t going to be lifting your head from being in alignment with your spine because this will cause too much stress in your upper back around your shoulders, where a lot of people carry emotional and physical stress already, especially when sitting at a computer all day; that’s not a sustainable position to swim over a long distance. If you’re sprinting, 50 or 100 meters, then most likely, that might be a way to do it.
As a US Masters Certified Level II Swimming Coach, I prefer to teach people to exercise over the long haul, and that entails having your head in a position that is most comfortable for your body. If you are a competitive swimmer, by all means, let’s experiment and find that fastest freestyle for you. And that’s where Mr. Gary Hall’s article comes in to play.
Mr. Hall discusses the two conflicting forces that must be considered while swimming: “the forces of frontal drag and the forces of propulsive power. They are both important and they often don’t agree. It turns out the best head position to maximize propulsion will also increase frontal drag. The best head position to minimize frontal drag will reduce propulsive power.”
The best head position to maximize propulsion increases frontal drag. The best head position to minimize frontal drag reduces propulsive power.
I hope you’ll read his article to learn more. And when you come for your next swimming lesson with us, let us know your goals from learning to swim, a weekly workout routine, or competition, and we will help you to become One with the Water. We will design a personal swimming program which will allow you to become a strong swimmer regardless of your athletic skills, flexibility or body-type.