Different Swimming Styles and Strokes

There are 8 different swimming styles and strokes that we can learn.  No matter whether you want to learn how to swim for competition, exercise, or safety. It’s best to learn several different swimming strokes as each offer’s advantages. And also, in different situations.

Front Crawl/Freestyle

The front crawl or forward crawl, also known as the Australian crawl. Is a swimming stroke usually regarded as the fastest of the four front primary strokes?

The front crawl is likely the first swimming stroke you think of when you picture swimming. It is also called the freestyle stroke; most swimmers use this stroke in events as it is the fastest.

To execute the front crawl, you lie on your stomach and propel yourself forward. With alternating arm movements in a sort of windmill motion. And starts by pushing underwater and recovers above water. Your legs should propel you with a flutter kick, with pointed feet as your legs move up and down in alternation. You take breaths in time with the strokes.


Backstroke is one of the four swimming styles used in competitive events. And the only one of these styles swum on the back. This swimming style has the advantage of easy breathing. But the disadvantage of swimmers not being able to see where they are going. It also has a different start from the other three competition swimming styles. The swimming style is like an upside-down front crawl or freestyle. Both backstroke and front crawl are long-axis strokes. In individual medley backstroke is the second style swum; in the medley relay it is the first style swum. The backstroke requires similar movements to the front crawl. But as the name suggests, on your back. Doctors often recommend this stroke to individuals with back problems. It provides a great back workout.

To perform the backstroke, while floating on your back. You alternate your arms with a windmill-like motion to propel yourself backwards. Like the front crawl, your arms should start the circular motion by pushing underwater and recovering above water. Your legs should engage in a flutter kick. Your face should be above the surface as you look straight up.



Breaststroke is a swimming style in which the swimmer is on their chest and the torso does not rotate. It is the most popular recreational style due to the swimmer’s head being out of the water. A large part of the time, and that it can be swum at slow speeds. In most swimming classes, beginners learn either the breaststroke or the freestyle first. But, at the competitive level, swimming breaststroke at speed requires comparable endurance. And strength to other strokes. Some people refer to breaststroke as the “frog” stroke. as the arms and legs move somewhat like a frog swimming in the water. The stroke itself is the slowest strokes and it’s the oldest of all swimming strokes

This stroke is performed with your stomach facing down. Your arms move beneath the surface of the water in a half circular movement in front of your body. Your legs perform the whip kick at the same time. The whip kick is executed by bringing your legs from straight behind you close to your body by bending both at your knees and at your hips. Your legs then move outward and off to the side before extending and coming back together. This swimming technique is often compared to a frog’s movement 


The butterfly is a swimming stroke swum on the chest. with both arms moving, accompanied by the butterfly kick (also known as the “dolphin kick”). While other styles like the breaststroke, front crawl, or backstroke can be swum by beginners. Butterfly is a more difficult stroke. It also requires good technique as well as strong muscles. It is the newest swimming style swum in competition. First swum in 1933 and originating out of the breaststroke.

To perform the butterfly stroke. You start horizontal with your stomach facing the bottom of the pool. Bring your arms over your head and push them into the water to propel you forward. And bring them up out of the water again to repeat. As you move your arms into the water, you will push your head and shoulders above the surface of the water.

Your legs will perform a dolphin kick. Which requires your legs to stay together and straight as you kick them. It’s like how a dolphin’s lower body and tail moves.


The sidestroke is named because the swimmer lies on one’s side with asymmetric arm and leg motion. And it is helpful as a lifesaving technique and is often used for long-distance swimming. The sidestroke allows the swimmer increased endurance. Working both arms and legs in the same way, the side stroke uses them both. A swimmer tired of exercising one side can turn over and use the other. The changing action helping the limbs to recover.

This is an older swimming style that is not used in swim competitions. But is still an important stroke to learn for safety reasons. It is most used by lifeguards when they rescue someone. This stroke most allows you to pull something along with you. It involves swimming on your side. Propelling yourself forward with a scissor kick and alternating arm movements. It’s one of the easier strokes to learn. And can be a nice break from the more popular swim strokes if you’re looking to add more variety into your routine.

Elementary Backstroke

Elementary backstroke is a basic swimming technique that is easy to learn. So useful for improving your water confidence as a beginner.

This is a variation from the typical backstroke you see. It uses a reversed breaststroke kick while your arms move in sync beneath the water. It’s called “elementary” because of its simple technique that’s easy to pick up. And is often one of the first swim strokes taught to new swimmers for this reason.


Combat Side Stroke

Combat side stroke is a variation of the side stroke and taught to the United States Navy SEALs. The combat side stroke is a relaxing and very efficient swim stroke. It is also an updated version of the traditional sidestroke. The CSS is a mix of sidestroke, front crawl, and breaststroke. Making them less visible while allowing them to swim with greatest efficiency. Two critical criteria for combat operations that need swimming on the surface. This is a complicated stroke to learn.



This stroke evolved from the sidestroke named after the English swimmer John Trudgen. You swim on your side, alternating lifting each arm out of the water and over your head. It uses a scissor kick that only comes in every other stroke. When your left arm is over your head, you spread your legs apart to prepare to kick. And then as the arm comes down you straighten your legs and snap them together for the scissor kick.


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