Swimming is an individual sport in which one requires to move the entire body inside (through) water.  This helps in exercising the muscles without putting the load on bone joints. There are basically 5 types of swimming or strokes in which you can swim. Let us discuss each type’s technique, benefits, muscles involved, etc. in detail.

  1. Front Crawl
  2. Breaststroke
  3. Butterfly Stroke
  4. Backstroke
  5. Sidestroke


  1. Front Crawl (Credits Arena)

This stroke is also known as ‘Freestyle’. It gives maximum speed with minimum effort. Freestyle swimming includes a prone horizontal (face down) position. Flutter kicks and alternate arm move movements help create the thrust needed to push the body.


Front Crawl is the fastest and most efficient stroke in swimming because:

  1. a) Drag is minimum during the arm recovery because of the pointed hands.
  2. b) There’s always one arm pulling the water.

Muscles used in front crawl are:

Core and abdominal muscles in keeping the body streamlined and lifting it while breathing.

Forearms muscles are used in pulling the water back.

There is the utilization of glutes and hamstring for the propulsion through legs and maintain a balanced position.

Hand’s entry underwater and reaching out also requires involvement of shoulder muscles.


  1. Breaststroke

This type of swimming stroke also occurs in a prone position. In Breastroke, the body is forced into an inclined position from a horizontal position to do the movement. Frog-like kicks and simultaneous hand movement inside the water helps the body glides through the water.


Arm movements are symmetrical and simultaneous. An arc is made by the hands from an extended forward position to below the chest. But unlike the freestyle stroke, hands move in a straight line during the recovery phase.


Breaststroke is the slowest one among all the 5 types of swimming strokes. Generally, the beginners are taught this technique first since the head is above the water for most of the time.

Muscles used in Breast Stroke are:

To move the arms inward against the water, Pectoral and Latissimus Dorsi muscles are used.

Glutes and Quadriceps are used to kick the legs inside the water.


  1. Butterfly Stroke

The butterfly stroke involves a prone position. It is quite exhausting and strenuous relative to other types of swimming strokes. In this stroke, the body executes wave-like movements, moving chest and hip up and down the water surface.


Legs undergo dolphin-like motion which means both the legs stay together and straight as you kick them in the water. Arms movements are symmetrical again tracing an hourglass motion underwater. They start from an extended forward position to beneath the chest toward the hips.


The butterfly stroke is one of the most difficult strokes to master. The undulations, dolphin kick and the arm movements are all not so easy to learn. It is very tiring and therefore not usually used for recreational or fitness swimmers.


Muscles used:

There is a high utilization of the core abdominal and lower back muscles which lift the body out of the water when breathing. Glutes are used in the leg-movement like a dolphin. Pecs, lasts, quads, hamstrings, calves, shoulders, biceps, and triceps are all needed extensively in this powerful stroke.



  1. Backstroke

Backstroke is the only type of competitive stroke that on the back. The head is in a neutral position facing up. It is very similar to the Front Crawl type except for one major difference: the back faces down.


Legs do flutter kicks with quick and compact movements. Arms are used to pull the water beneath the back such that the body moves backwards. Competitively, backstroke is third fastest behind Butterfly and Front Crawl. Breathing is free from movements in this type of swimming stroke as the head never goes inside the water.


Muscles used:

The shoulder muscles have to dominate more in this move than they do in other strokes. The muscles in the lower leg also play a critical role in the backstroke. There is an extensive use of small muscles of the rotator cuff, especially the sub scapularis and the teres minor. Doctors advise patients with back problems to try this swimming stroke as it will help in relaxing the muscles and straightening it.


  1. Sidestroke

One of the oldest types of swimming stroke that can be used to rescue someone who is drowning. It requires only one arm with asymmetrical underwater arm movements and scissor kick. The body is in a side wards position during the whole stroke. The head is above the water all the time.


Legs do the scissor kicks with the upper leg pushing against the water with the back of the leg, while the lower leg pushing with the front of the leg. Arms movement is asymmetrical and random. The lower arm moves underwater from an extended forward position to the chest and the upper arm, which was resting on the side, bend at the elbow and recovers toward the chest. Breathing is free of movements again as the head is above water throughout the stroke.


Muscles used:

Muscles on the one side of the body undergo more exercise more than the other at a time. So, the physically challenged individuals use it to perform swimming.

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  1. Always swim with a buddy.
  2. Swim only in areas that have a lifeguard.
  3. Stay out of the water when you are very tired, very cold, or overheated.
  4. Follow all swimming rules posted at the swimming area.
  5. Obey the lifeguard’s instruction.
  6. If you can’t see the bottom of the pool in the deep end or the water is cloudy, don’t swim there.
  7. Avoid swimming at night in unlighted areas.
  8. Don’t chew gum or eat while swimming, you could choke.
  9. Do not push, shove, or run near the water, horseplay can be dangerous.
  10. Get out of the water if you see lightning or hear thunder.
  11. Swim a safe distance away from diving boards and slides. Never swim under them.
  12. Never swim near a dam or boat ramp.
  13. Avoid swimming in river currents.



STEP1: Teacher revises the previous topic

STEP 11: Teacher introduces the topic.

STEP III: Teacher explains the new topic

STEP IV: Teacher welcomes pupils questions.

STEPV: Teacher evaluates the pupils.



  1. Define swimming strokes
  2. Explain the types of swimming strokes
  3. Mention 5 safety rules of swimming



Mention 10 safety rules.


See also




Physical and Health Challenges


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