/ Swim Lessons

Learning The Different Types Of Swimming Strokes

Once you have helped your child acclimate to water and you have introduced them to basic water safety skills, it’s time to explore the 4 main swimming strokes used in competitive swimming.

Learning different swimming strokes instills confidence, allowing kids to participate in fun activities, such as competitive swim teams at community pools and throughout high school, college and beyond. Who knows, you might even have a future Olympian on your hands once they become passionate about this sport that has so many types of swimming strokes.

In any case, your kids will love the freedom of enjoying all the different types of swimming strokes, using different muscle groups, and experiencing the water uniquely.

What Are the 4 Types of Swimming Strokes?

Even if you haven't done any competitive swimming, you might have heard of the 4 main types of swimming strokes: freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly. Each stroke has its own unique approach, using the arms, legs, and torso differently.

Read on to learn more about these types of swimming strokes and the differences and similarities of each one.

1. Freestyle

Also known as the front crawl, freestyle is the fastest and most efficient competitive swimming stroke. Often referred to as a long-axis stroke, the technique for swimming freestyle is maintaining a fully horizontal, face-down position. The head remains in a neutral position except for each time the swimmer takes a breath.

The arm stroke and body position work in tandem with the body rolling gently from one side to the other along with the arm that is pulling out of the water for a full stroke and taking a breath. Finally, swimmers get a great deal of power from the flutter kick, which involves a continuous up and down kicking motion with pointed toes that elongate the body in the water.

2. Backstroke

The backstroke is the only stroke not performed facing downward. This stroke is another long-axis stroke that uses many of the same principles and body positioning as the front crawl or freestyle but performed on one’s back.

With the swimmer’s face looking up at the sky or ceiling, it’s essential to maintain head and hip alignment or else the hips will drop and the swimmer will lose proper position, speed and efficiency. The arm pull is the reverse of the freestyle, focusing on the thumb exiting the water first and the pinky entering the water first, slicing the water.

3. Breaststroke

The basic principle behind swimming the breaststroke is summed up in the mantra: pull, breathe, kick and glide. One of the most important aspects of understanding breaststroke, performed in a face-down position, is the glide, which takes place at the beginning and end of each stroke cycle. The arm pull features four phases: glide, outsweep, insweep and recovery, while the leg motion is similar to a frog’s kick.

Kids and beginner breaststroke swimmers frequently use kickboards and other teaching tools to fine-tune their practice.

4. Butterfly

Many swimmers look in awe at butterfly swimmers, wondering how to do butterfly stroke with such ease and grace. It’s a complex stroke that requires coordination, strength and practice.

In a face-down position, the swimmer starts with their head in a neutral position, their arms shoulder-width apart and their palms facing down. The swimmer pulls both arms down, out and over the surface of the water simultaneously while performing a dolphin kick with both legs together.