A three dimensional analytical model for crawl stroke swimming is developed in which the swimmer is modeled as a body and two arms connected to the body at the shoulder joints. Each arm is assumed to consist of three segments. The numerical results obtained from the model are compared with the results of two sets of experiments performed. In the first series of experiments, the tether forces developed in crawl stroke swimming are measured and a linear correlation between the tether force and the stroke rate is obtained. In the second series of experiments, untethered crawl stroke swimming for different arm position angles is recorded. The results are presented in graphical forms and the effect of stroke rate on swimming velocity is discussed. (C) 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.