Fluid-structure investigations in hydraulic machines using coupled simulations are particularly time-consuming. In this study, an alternative method is presented that linearizes the hydrodynamic load of a rigid, oscillating hydrofoil. The hydrofoil, which is surrounded by incompressible, turbulent flow, is modeled with forced and free pitching motions, where the mean incidence angle is 0° with a maximum angle amplitude of 2°. Unsteady simulations of the flow, performed with ANSYS CFX, are presented and validated with experiments which were carried out in the EPFL High-Speed Cavitation Tunnel. First, forced motion is investigated for reduced frequencies ranging from 0.02 to 100. The hydrodynamic load is modeled as a simple combination of inertia, damping and stiffness effects. As expected, the potential flow analysis showed the added moment of inertia is constant, while the fluid damping and the fluid stiffness coefficients depend on the reduced frequency of the oscillation motion. Behavioral patterns were observed and two cases were identified depending on if vortices did or did not develop in the hydrofoil wake. Using the coefficients identified in the forced motion case, the time history of the profile incidence is then predicted analytically for the free motion case and excellent agreement is found for the results from coupled fluid–structure simulations. The model is validated and may be extended to more complex cases, such as blade grids in hydraulic machinery.