During the front crawl, swimmers kick with their legs to help propel their bodies through the water. They reach with their hands in a windmill motion, with first one arm and then the other.
The front crawl is significantly faster than the other swimming strokes used in competition, such as the butterfly, breaststroke and backstroke.
In the 2008 Summer Olympics, Michael Phelps of the United States swam 200 meters using the front crawl in 1:42.96 minutes, compared with his winning time of 1:52.03 minutes covering the same distance using the butterfly stroke.
Unlike the front crawl, the breaststroke is easily the slowest of the four swimming strokes that competitors use. The winning 2008 Olympic time for 200 meters in the breaststroke was 2:07.64 minutes by Japan's Kosuke Kitajima.
According to the Swimming Strokes website, an Australian named Richard Cavill may have originated the front crawl in the early 1900s.