6 Types Of Swimming Strokes

6 Types Of Swimming Strokes

There are different types of swimming strokes. If you want to learn how to swim for any reason, be it competition, exercise, or safety, you need to learn proper swimming techniques.

You’re probably familiar with the freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, and sidestroke. Competitive swimmers start with these basic strokes as they need to be adaptable in the water and achieve success in various swimming events.

But even the average person can benefit from learning these swimming strokes, as it allows one to engage many muscles simultaneously, resulting in a more well-rounded workout. Learning the basics also allows you to avoid water hazards and swim towards safety when necessary. 

Without further ado, we dive into basic swimming strokes all aspiring swimmers should know. Let’s get right to it. 


1. Freestyle Stroke

Freestyle Stroke

The freestyle, also known as the front crawl, is performed by lying on one’s stomach with one’s body perpendicular to the water’s surface. Move forward by alternating your arm movements, making a windmill pattern where you push below and then recover your arms above water. 


Body Movement

  • In freestyle, the body lays flat, facedown, in the water.
  • The only time the head moves from its neutral position is when breathing from either side.
  • One technique for gaining water speed is to roll from side to side.


Arm Movement

  • You’ll see one arm emerge above water before the other one recovers.
  • To execute a down-sweep, simply bring the forearm down while simultaneously bringing the elbow up. To go forward or backwards, you swing your arm overhead.
  • During in-sweep, one person uses a pulling motion of the arm to bring in water. The next motion is an upward sweep, where another arm acts as a paddle.
  • When the arms are swung forward in recovery, the forearm can unwind.


Leg Movement

  • The flutter kick is essential in freestyle.
  • Flutter kicks can go either forward or backwards. Slowly lift one leg as you lower the other into the water.  


2. Butterfly Stroke

Butterfly Stroke

If you’re looking for a challenging swim stroke, try  the butterfly swimming stroke. The mastery process can be difficult in terms of time and energy, but learning it is well worth it. 

Begin the butterfly stroke by lying on your stomach with your feet flat on the pool’s floor. The arm stroke consists of simultaneously bringing both arms above the head, pushing them into the water to move you forward, and then bringing them back up out of the water. 

Your head and shoulders will break the water’s surface as you propel yourself upward with your arms.

To do a dolphin kick, your legs must remain straight and together as you kick, just like a dolphin does with its tail and lower body. Make a wave-like motion with your body.

Ideally, you should pause to catch your breath before you launch into your next forward stroke, as your arms will be just out of the water. During this action, you should keep your head up and face forward.


Body Movement

  • When you first start swimming, your body floats horizontally on your chest.
  • When submerged face down, the head is in a straight line with the rest of the body.
  • When the body gains speed, wave-like movements appear.


Arm Movement

  • When the body is ready, the arms start coming in one at a time.
  • The arms remain erect for a moment, despite the sagging chest..
  • A catch is performed when the palms and forearms form a line with the back.
  • After that, there is a continuous in-and-out motion.
  • At last, the aid of release and recovery allows the body to shut down and sleep.


Leg Movement

  • The butterfly swimming kick, also known as the dolphin kick, requires the swimmer to propel themselves forward with explosive acceleration.
  • A whirling motion of the legs is initiated by pointing at the feet.
  • As the hips lift, the legs follow suit.
  • When the hips are straightened, the legs follow suit by swinging back and forth, and so on.


3. Backstroke

The backstroke is performed by making the same motions as the front crawl while lying face down. Medical professionals frequently recommend this stroke due to its health benefits on the back and spine. 

The backstroke is performed by floating on one’s back and using a windmill motion with the arms to propel oneself backwards. As in the front crawl, the arm motion should begin with a push underwater and a recovery above water. 

You should do a flutter kick with your legs. If you look straight up, your face will be above water.

Maintain a perfectly straight body, dipping just enough at the hips and knees to submerge your legs. 

You’ll lose speed if you let your hips drop too far or your back arch too much. Maintain a narrow stance and drive your kick with your hips for maximum impact.

Even if you can keep your face above water, you should know your breathing rate. Remember to time your breathing  with your strokes.


Body Movement

  • The body is floating on its side after being turned backwards.
  • Circularly moving the arms causes the body to roll from side to side.
  • The head is still, and the neck is straight while the face is up.


Arm Movement

  • With extended arms, the water is pushed backwards.
  • The shape of the action is an S.
  • During rest, the arms go from one hip to the other.
  • During physical therapy, patients are instructed to keep their arms at a right angle to their bodies.


Leg Movement

  • One swimming technique used for the backstroke is the flutter kick.
  • Other techniques include multiple pointing-foot and vertical-jumping-kick variations.


4. Breaststroke

Breast Stroke

In competitive swimming, the breaststroke is the slowest and most frequently practised stroke. As it does not require the swimmer to submerge their head, it is a common technique for teaching new swimmers.

Competitive swimmers, however, tend to submerge their heads and take breaths at specific times during the stroke.

It’s best to do this stroke on your stomach. With one fluid motion, your arms make a half circle under the water in front of your torso.

During the whip kick, both of your legs move in unison. To perform a whip kick, one must first bend at the knees and the hips, bringing the straightened legs near the torso.

After that, you’ll stretch them and bring them back together, but first, they’ll move out to the side. Common analogies to the swimming style of frogs are made.

Arm strokes are most efficient when timed with leg kicks or strokes, so try to relax your arms while your legs are kicking and straighten your legs while your arms propel you forward. This ensures that there is a constant effort being put forward toward further progress.


Body Movement

  • When swimming the breaststroke, your body position is always shifting. Starting to swim causes a change from a flat surface to an incline.
  • As the body moves forward in the water, the torso rises to an angle of 45 degrees above the water.
  • The head stays in line with the body throughout the entire swimming motion.

Arm Movement

  • Initially, the arms are extended forward.
  • The first phase of the pull causes the arms to move outward, the second phase to move backwards, and the third phase to move downward.
  • The range of motion at the elbows reaches the area between the shoulder blades.
  • Arms swing back, and the hands come together under the chest.

Leg Movement

  • You’ll employ a frog kick or a whip kick in the breaststroke.
  • During the “arm pull” phase, the legs are stretched.
  • After that, the knees will bend forward toward the hips.
  • While swimming the breaststroke, the swimmer’s feet move forward and backwards.

5. Combat Side Stroke

The combat side stroke is an efficient and low-effort form of swimming that combines breaststroke, freestyle, and sidestroke elements.

It lessens the swimmer’s visual profile in the water and increases their swimming efficiency, which is crucial for combat actions that call for swimming at the surface. Your training will emphasise symmetry, elongation, and rotation.


Body Movement

  • The form should be horizontal while submerged.
  • While afloat, the body rolls to one side to breathe.
  • In an ideal situation, the body would be almost touching the ground.

Arm Movement

  • All of the stroke’s arm motion happens underwater.
  • The arms are extended together over the head to provide a more aerodynamic silhouette.
  • Lowering the shoulders helps make the movement smoother when turning the body to the side.

Leg Movement

  • During a battling sidestroke, the legs do most of the work.
  • The primary objective is to rapidly advance the body.
  • The legs start to move with a scissor kick.
  • The bottom leg extends the back while the top pulls the torso forward.

6. Sidestroke

This is a more traditional swimming technique rarely seen in competitive swimming but is essential to know for your safety. In the event of a rescue, lifeguards typically employ this stroke because it helps them to pull the victim along with them with the greatest degree of ease.

As the name suggests, you swim on your side and use a scissor kick and alternating arm movements to propel yourself forward. This is a great alternative to the more common swimming strokes if you want to mix things up in the pool.


Body Movement

  • The swimmer starts by spreading their legs out to one side.
  • Place the upper arm at the side of the body, so it is horizontal.
  • The head and neck are straight, and the face is submerged.

Arm Movement

  • With the elbow bent, the lower arm is thrown back against the water.
  • When doing a sweep, the hand is brought in front of the chest with the palm facing up.
  • As the lower arm stretches back to the front, the upper arm pushes against the water.

Leg Movement

  • The sidestroke kick resembles a pair of scissors.
  • A squat is performed by bending the upper leg at the knee and bringing the foot to the chest.
  • The back of the foot moves toward the shin when the lower leg bends.
  • Possessing fluid arm-and-leg coordination is essential.

Conclusion On Types Of Swimming Strokes

There are different types of swimming strokes and each stroke has its own unique technique, benefits and challenges. The choice of which stroke to swim depends on personal preference and ability.

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Frequently Asked Questions On
Types Of Swimming Strokes


What Is The Most Common Swimming Stroke?

Despite popular belief, freestyle (front crawl) is the simplest of the four competitive swimming strokes and the quickest to learn. When swimming freestyle, keeping the torso and face horizontal and level is important. Some governing bodies make minor adjustments to the freestyle swimming strokes for international competitions.


How Does Swimming Help Your Muscles?

The simple act of swimming refreshes and revitalises the entire body. However, several muscle groups in the body benefit greatly from swimming. Breathing requires powerful core abdominal and lower back muscles, which become increasingly robust with regular exercise. 

The hamstrings and gluteus maximus in the back ensure the legs can splay like dolphins. Swimming is great for building strength in many different muscular groups, including the chest, back, legs, calves, shoulders, biceps, and triceps.


What Is The Most Difficult Swimming Stroke?

There are many other swimming strokes and styles, but the butterfly is the most challenging. Mainly because it’s divided into three stages, all of which must run smoothly to proceed. 

There are three stages: pushing, pulling, and recovering. 

  • In the pull portion of the butterfly stroke, swimmers concentrate on body position and forward momentum. 
  • The palms of your hands push back through the water in front of you, creating the push. Both the pull and the push work to increase velocity. 
  • Third, in recovery, you’ll want to keep your body straight and continually come up out of the water.


Which Of These Swimming Techniques Is Never Used In A Competition?

Although it is a part of many swimming curricula, sidestroke is rarely used in competitive swimming and is instead emphasised as a water safety and survival ability.


What Are The Basics Of Swimming?

Every swimmer needs to master these five skills:

  • How to breathe properly.
  • Making forward progress while submerged.
  • Learning how to synchronise muscles and joints while in motion.
  • Methods of swimming/different types of strokes.
  • Diving.