I wish I could offer individual or group swim training in more places so I could offer help on engaging your core during freestyle in person. It’s not an easy concept to master and even harder one to try to explain in writing.
So instead, I’ve created a little video to give you an idea of how you can practice engaging your core at home, on the pool deck, anywhere really. Once you have learned how to engage your core, it’s something you will be able to tap into much more easily. Finding it the first few times, however, can be tough. This is just one way you can try to practice it.
In the pool, you can also swim half speed so you have time to keep your arm extended until you can feel your lats engage. Then once lats are engaged and you start to pull, you look to engage your core. Because swimming slowly causes many people to sink, doing this drill with fins can help with keeping your body position correct.
It is not a coincidence that top level swimmers have ridiculous abs. Engaging your core will make every swim workout a core workout and make your freestyle significantly more powerful with every stroke.