When thinking about swimming front crawl it is difficult to eliminate one part of the stroke. Each element of front crawl when done well fits together so that the stroke flows.
Having said that, I will break the stroke down to some extent, but at the same time explain how each element impacts on each other part.
The overall stroke should flow naturally. It is important to relax as much as possible when swimming because any tension will make you tired. “Tension is Tiring”
The body should be inline and as you swim and you should rotate. Some people say that you imagine that you have a pole stuck through the middle of your body a bit like a roast on a spit. The body should rotate from side to side. How much depends on your body shape and your flexibility.
This is particularly important when it comes to breathing. I often hear swimming teachers telling their pupils to “turn their head” to breathe. Try doing this without rolling the body it’s nearly physically impossible! No wonder so many faults are caused when teaching kids to swim front crawl. I have even seen teachers give their pupils a “float” and made them kick (legs only) with one arm holding the float to teach the correct breathing technique.
What happens is that because they are holding the float their body cannot rotate naturally as it would when you swim normally so they are forced to turn their head further than they should. You may have seen some young swimmers turn their heads to breathe and look at the ceiling! You can see why.
You should be taking your breath just as one arm is finishing its stroke. The body will have rotated to get the maximum power out of the back and shoulder muscles. So use this natural rotation to take a breath. How often should you breathe? Well it depends on your level of fitness. You can breathe ever one complete arm cycle or every three (known as bi-lateral breathing) The advantage of bilateral breathing is that it evens out your stroke. It also forces your heart and lungs to work harder! The disadvantage is that you get out of breath much quicker. If you have not dome much swimming for a while it is probably a good idea to build up to it.
The arms in front crawl in top swimmers almost seem to “catch up” a little with each other. This