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Swimming for Exercise and Fun

The sport of swimming traces back to references as early as Egyptian hieroglyphics and ancient documents.

Water is all around us, and those in coastal areas learned to swim for a variety of reasons. From defending land from seaworthy opponent to recreation for European royalty, swimming became an integral part of world history. Today, it is one of the most popular Olympic competitive sports, as well as being a fun past time for most.

No matter where you swim- lakes, the ocean, rivers, or the neighborhood pool-swimming offers an infinite amount of benefits. From improving cardiovascular and respiratory systems dramatically to weight loss and increased muscle tone, you’ll find beginning swimming or returning to swimming on a regular basis, to be more than worthwhile.

Let’s take a look at the 3 main types of swimming strokes/styles.

FREESTYLE/FRONT CRAWL

The front crawl in swimming is probably the most common of strokes associated with professional swimming, as it’s the fastest one. This swimming stroke is one of the more challenging strokes to learn as breathing must be perfectly in line with the action of the stroke.

With careful review of the front crawl instructions and video below-along with lots of practice-however, the novice swimmer should be able to master it in no time.

Front Crawl Technique

1.Begin by positioning your body face down and flat along the surface of the water. A good tip is to try putting your face in the water and kick swimming while doing so. This will teach you the proper form of the front crawl.

2.Bend knees slightly, and begin by kicking in long, fast motions. Your entire leg should be moving up and down if you are doing this correctly.

3.With one arm extended as far forward in front of you as possible, push through the water with your thumb first to minimize splash, and make a circular motion with arm back to your body.

4.Follow with the other arm in the same manner-as one arm retracts, the other should extend to push through the water and help propel you forward.

5.To maximize your speed, try bending your elbow after pushing through the water with the extended arm, and then pushing it towards your legs until it reaches the top of your leg.

6.When raising the stroke active arm out of the water, try to maintain the utmost in direction and control to make the circular motion already discussed.

7.Once you have the stroke motion down, try to incorporate the breathing aspect by lifting and swiveling your head to the side of the retracted arm. Breathe smoothly and evenly.

Important Tips for the Front Crawl

– Focus eyes straight ahead and down in order to maintain straight direction.

– Stay mostly horizontal allowing your hips and shoulders to roll just slightly.

– Extend your arm forward as far as you can at the start of a stroke to maximize form and speed.

– Keep legs close together to maintain a streamline form for speed.

– Avoid flailing movement, by keeping arms tucked close to your body-both during extension and retraction of arm stroke.

– Try pushing your elbow up through the surface of the water faster when one arm has finished retracting. This helps you recover-or bring your hand back to the starting point quicker.

– The quicker it can end, the quicker the next arm can begin-thus, increasing your overall speed.

– Focus on making each stroke of the front crawl longer and stronger.

– Though short, long kicks is typically recommended for the front crawl-the difference really depends on the distance of your swim. For longer distances, focus on slower kicks. For shorter distances, focus on faster kicks.

– A good way to increase your speed with the front crawl is to count the amount of kicks you use for the length of a pool.

– Set your goals accordingly.

 

BACKSTROKE

The backstroke in swimming is one of the more challenging strokes. Not only does it have you face up instead of face down like the rest of the common swimming strokes, so that you cannot see where you are going; but it also uses a unique set of motions and stokes to get you there.

Below, we take a look at the basic form and instruction for the backstroke swimming stroke, as well as offer helpful tips on how to learn and master it for beginner and mid-level swimmer alike.


Backstroke Technique

1.Begin by floating on your back just under the surface of the water. Arms should be at your sides and legs extended straight in a floating position.

2.Kick legs up and down with toes pointed. Big kicks are not needed, just moderate ones that affect a small splash.

3.Turn slightly at one side of your waist as you raise the opposite arm from your side, straight up through the surface of the water and above your head. This arm should be fully extended and close to your body through the entire motion.

4.This same arm should follow through this motion back into the water by bending slightly at the elbow to make a circular motion downwards back towards its original position.

5.Meanwhile, the other arm should be preparing in a semi-bent position at you side to mirror the up, extend, and down motion of the previous arm.

6.Since your face is always out of the water with the backstroke, breathing can be done normally.

Important Tips for the Backstroke

– Since you cannot see where you are going in the backstroke, it is a good idea to count the amount of strokes it takes you to reach the other end of the pool.

– To determine where the other end of the pool is without having counted strokes, tilt you head back slightly and blow air through your nose. This way you won’t get water up your nose, and you can also check the distance between you and the pool edge without stopping your swim stroke altogether.

– When doing the backstroke, the correct power and form of your legs should not be forgotten. Make sure legs are always straight, extended, and kicking fast and long- in a controlled set of motions.

– Your arms should always be in correct harmony: when one is up and extended over your head, the other should be at your side underwater, waiting for the other one to make its circular motion back its original position.

– Your body should always be just under the surface of the water for ease of motion and propulsion, as well as for the proper form needed to breathe correctly.

– Ensure that your knees are always straight extended but also bent a little for maximum use of form.

– All movements should be fluid, not jerking, to ensure that you are following the correct form and function of the backstroke.

 

 BUTTERFLY

The butterfly stroke is a popular stroke used with all levels of swimmers, though it can be difficult to learn because of its strict necessity for proper function and stamina.Below, we give a general overview of the instructions, technique, and form of the butterfly swimming stroke, as well as offer helpful tips to help your overall butterfly stroke performance.

First, check out this video for a visual of the butterfly technique.

Butterfly Technique

1.Begin the butterfly stroke, by being face down in the water, body straight, with legs extended and arms extended over your head along the surface of the water. Legs should be held together, and arms should be touching in front of you.

2.Bend knees and kick up and down with legs together. The power of this movement should come from your hips and not your legs for proper development of the butterfly stroke.

3.Simultaneously to the above motion of your legs, pull both arms from front extended position down and back through the water towards and under your body to maximize momentum of your arms.

4.From your sides, pull both arms back up and out of the water to finish the circular motion of the last movement of the stroke, and push them up and forward back down into the water. This action is best used with the correct amount of momentum and force from the last movement.

5.While your arms are pushing up and out of the water and back down, your head should be coming up for both sight and breath. Take this time to take a quick estimate of distance to the other end of the pool as well as time for a controlled breath.

6.As arms are coming back down in a diving thrust through the surface of the water, your head should follow in succession.

7.This movement will allow for a small glide through the water, before pulling arms back down through beneath your body and beginning the butterfly stroke again.

Important Tips for the Butterfly Stroke

– Make sure that the core of your body is always parallel to the surface of the water and close to it. This will ensure that you are following through and not losing momentum by sinking into the water.

– Your arms should be using an active push-instead of the common mistake of dragging your arms-through the water when coming back through the beginning of the stroke. Use them for momentum.

– Also remember that crucial to the proper delivery of the butterfly stroke is that your arms move simultaneously on each side-down, forward and up, and back down and back. Without proper execution of simultaneous arm movements, your butterfly stroke will be lopsided and awkward.

– Your head should always be in the water when not lifting up as noted earlier. This will expend less wasted energy trying to keep your head up.

– It’s helpful to push your chin forward while underwater while pulling your arms back underneath you, as it gets you all the more ready to breathe when your head comes out of the water.

BUTTERFLY

The butterfly stroke is a popular stroke used with all levels of swimmers, though it can be difficult to learn because of its strict necessity for proper function and stamina.

Below, we give a general overview of the instructions, technique, and form of the butterfly swimming stroke, as well as offer helpful tips to help your overall butterfly stroke performance.

Butterfly Technique

1.Begin the butterfly stroke, by being face down in the water, body straight, with legs extended and arms extended over your head along the surface of the water. Legs should be held together, and arms should be touching in front of you.

2.Bend knees and kick up and down with legs together. The power of this movement should come from your hips and not your legs for proper development of the butterfly stroke.

3.Simultaneously to the above motion of your legs, pull both arms from front extended position down and back through the water towards and under your body to maximize momentum of your arms.

4.From your sides, pull both arms back up and out of the water to finish the circular motion of the last movement of the stroke, and push them up and forward back down into the water. This action is best used with the correct amount of momentum and force from the last movement.

5.While your arms are pushing up and out of the water and back down, your head should be coming up for both sight and breath. Take this time to take a quick estimate of distance to the other end of the pool as well as time for a controlled breath.

6.As arms are coming back down in a diving thrust through the surface of the water, your head should follow in succession.

7.This movement will allow for a small glide through the water, before pulling arms back down through beneath your body and beginning the butterfly stroke again.

Important Tips for the Butterfly Stroke

– Make sure that the core of your body is always parallel to the surface of the water and close to it. This will ensure that you are following through and not losing momentum by sinking into the water.

– Your arms should be using an active push-instead of the common mistake of dragging your arms-through the water when coming back through the beginning of the stroke. Use them for momentum.

– Also remember that crucial to the proper delivery of the butterfly stroke is that your arms move simultaneously on each side-down, forward and up, and back down and back. Without proper execution of simultaneous arm movements, your butterfly stroke will be lopsided and awkward.

– Your head should always be in the water when not lifting up as noted earlier. This will expend less wasted energy trying to keep your head up.

– It’s helpful to push your chin forward while underwater while pulling your arms back underneath you, as it gets you all the more ready to breathe when your head comes out of the water.