Swimming Strokes Explained

Posted by John Z on

Swimming strokes that are different throughout your workout can really help to get the most out of your pool time.  Changing up swimming strokes during a workout exercises muscles that typically aren’t exercised much when they are out of water.  Local pools typically offer swim lessons in the 5 major swimming strokes, which include the Backstroke, Breaststroke, Butterfly, Freestyle and Sidestroke.  These are well-known strokes among Olympic swimmers and professional athletes, who spend hours in the pool training with them for competitions.   By learning them properly with guidance that includes attention to proper form and breath, even amateur swimmers can learn some basic skills in the pool that can really pay off with great health benefits.

The backstroke is one of the most well-known swimming strokes.  Also referred to as the “racing backstroke”, the backstroke is done by swimming on your back and swinging one arm at a time up over your head and back down behind your back, while kicking backward in a flutter kick.

The breaststroke is done on the stomach, with both arms in the water while the body is pulled backward.  The arms then move in an arc shape in the front of the body while the legs do a frog kick.  Out of all the swimming strokes, the breaststroke may be one of the oldest, reaching big popularity in the 1800s before the freestyle stroke took over in popularity.

The butterfly is another stomach-position stroke, in which the arms move forward in a circle motion going above the head and directly into the water.  Once the arms hit the water, the legs are kicked backward at the same time in what is known as a dolphin kick.

The freestyle stroke is typically used for speed, as it allows for a streamlined movement that helps the body glide through the water.  Also referred to as the “forward crawl”, the body stays in the water during this stroke, while the arms and legs work in tandem to provide forward motion.  This is often one of the first strokes taught in lessons, as it is easy to learn and is a good way to build up the upper body strength for strokes like the butterfly.

No matter which of the swimming strokes you enjoy, remember that in order to get the best workout, it’s a good idea to mix up the different strokes that you use during each workout.  Whether you are just starting out with swimming strokes or are returning to the sport of swimming after an extended absence, swimming lessons are a great way to be introduced to proper form and method.  As with any sport, swimming requires regular training and analysis to ensure success with your training program. Maintain a consistent training schedule, stay focused on performing each stroke correctly, and take time to analyze your progress by tracking training session data.  By taking the mystery out of swimming laps, you’ll be introduced to a great fitness regimen that you’ll enjoy.

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