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Freestyle: Drawbacks of Gazing Ahead While Swimming

Examining the Limitations of Forward-Focused Freestyle Technique

Swimming enthusiasts often fail to recognize the drawbacks associated with maintaining a fixed gaze ahead while performing the freestyle stroke. Although widely practised and favoured for its simplicity, this particular technique presents a series of challenges and limitations that can significantly impact a swimmer's performance and overall experience in the water. The following are some of the downsides:

Picture of a swimmer doing freestyle swimming and looking forward as he swims. Look down when you are doing freestyle
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Neck Strain:

Continuously craning the neck forward strains muscles and may lead to discomfort or injury over time. Prolonged strain can cause stiffness and soreness, hampering overall performance.


Focusing solely on what lies ahead can result in poor body alignment. A misaligned body disrupts the streamlined motion crucial for efficient propulsion through the water, leading to increased drag and decreased speed.

Loss of Balance:

Ignoring peripheral vision affects balance and stability in the water. Without proper spatial awareness, swimmers risk veering off course or losing control of their movements, compromising stroke efficiency.

Reduced Efficiency:

Tunnel vision restricts awareness of surroundings, hindering the ability to make real-time adjustments to stroke technique or navigate obstacles. This limitation can impede skill development and overall swimming proficiency.

Psychological Stress:

Constantly looking forward may induce anxiety, particularly in open water or crowded pool environments. Fear of collisions or uncertainty about navigation can heighten stress levels, impacting both performance and enjoyment.

Limited Feedback:

Neglecting to observe the water's surface impedes feedback on stroke effectiveness and body position. Without visual cues, swimmers may struggle to identify areas for improvement, hindering progress in refining their technique.

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Inefficient Breathing:

Fixating on the front may lead to improper breathing mechanics, as swimmers tend to lift their heads excessively to inhale. This habit disrupts rhythm and increases drag, compromising respiratory efficiency.

Risk of Injury:

Failing to scan the environment increases the risk of colliding with other swimmers or encountering underwater hazards. Inattentiveness to surroundings heightens the likelihood of accidents and potential injuries.

In Short

While maintaining a forward gaze is a common practice in freestyle swimming, it's essential to acknowledge the associated disadvantages. Incorporating periodic glances to the side or utilizing other sighting techniques can mitigate these drawbacks, promoting better technique, enhanced safety, and overall enjoyment of the sport.


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