The connections between swimming technique and the fluid dynamical interactions they generate are important for assisting performance improvement. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modeling provides a controlled and unobtrusive way for understanding the fundamentals of swimming. A coupled biomechanical–smoothed particle hydrodynamics (SPH) fluid model is used to analyze the thrust and drag generation of a freestyle swimmer. The swimmer model was generated using a three-dimensional laser body scan of the athlete and digitization of multi-angle video footage. Two large distinct peaks in net streamwise thrust are found during the stroke, which coincide with the underwater arm strokes. The hand motions generate vortical structures that travel along the body toward the kicking legs and the hands are shown to produce thrust using both lift and drag. These findings advance understanding of the freestyle stroke and may be used to improve athlete technique.