There is some debate going on in the triathlon world about whether it is important to have a long stroke in freestyle, and if so, how can this be developed?
Being long means extending your arm and gliding with each arm stroke. It also means getting more out of your stroke while saving energy (ideal for triathletes).
Don’t get me wrong, you can achieve a lot with a shorter stroke- in fact you could go very fast this way. However, for most people, especially the beginner crowd, this stroke is just not efficient enough to allow them to swim 1/2-1 mile, and still have a good amount of energy to tackle 20-40 miles on the bike, and an additional 5-10 mile run.
The mistake people make is comparing competitive pool swimmers who swim 50, 100, 200, or 400 meters as either an all out sprint or a controlled sprint, to triathletes who swim much further and have to complete a race lasting anywhere from 30 minutes to 10 hours!
Here are some ways to achieve a longer, more fluid, more efficient freestyle: