There are four basic swimming stokes: crawl (also known as freestyle), backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly. Understanding these different strokes helps you to make a better choice on what to learn in order to meet your goals (to swim fast or burn more calories).
Swimming Stroke # 1 – The Crawl, or Freestyle
The technique involved in this swimming stroke is pretty simple. You float on your belly in the water, and propel yourself by rotating your arms in a windmill motion, and kick your legs in a fluttering motion. The hardest part of this swimming technique is the coordination of the breathing while performing the strokes, since the face remains in the water almost all the time.
Swimming Stroke # 2 – The Backstroke
The backstroke is akin to the crawl, except that you float on your back in the water. The arms are moved in a similar alternating windmill motion, and the legs a kicked in a similarly fluttering motion. The two basic techniques of a correct backstroke are: One, that the arms are moved with equal force, or else you will find yourself swimming off towards one side; Two, that the body should be rolled from one side to the other, so that the arms extend to their utmost reach, to propel you by catching enough water.
Swimming Stroke # 3 – The Breaststroke
This swimming technique involves a pattern wherein the body bobs upwards and downwards as you propel yourself forward in the water. The breaststroke is a difficult swimming technique, and should not be chosen if you are just beginning to learn swimming. Basically, this swimming stroke involves pulling your arms through the water, as you bob up and breathe, and then kicking with your legs as you bob down and glide forward. The arm pulling and the leg kicking are done alternatively.
Swimming Stroke # 4 – The Butterfly Stroke
Similar to the breaststroke, the butterfly is also a difficult swimming technique, and not advocated for beginning learners, since it involves a fair amount of strength as well as precise timing. While performing this stroke, the legs should be moved together akin to the movements of a dolphin’s tail, the arms should also be moved together, pushing the water downwards and then backwards, while the torso moves forward in an undulating manner.
In the next few articles, I’ll break down each of these styles so look forward to them!