Swimming is the second most popular exercise activity in the United States. You can do it for your whole life and it will give you the confidence to participate in other water sports such as kayaking, surfing, sailing or water skiing.
What are the basic swimming strokes?
Crawl (freestyle), backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly are the most popular swim strokes and the strokes used in competition. The breaststroke and butterfly are more difficult to learn than the backstroke and crawl.
Crawl (freestyle). This is the most popular stroke. It is a simple flutter kick and windmill arm motion on your belly. The hardest part is timing the breathing, since your face is in the water most of the time. Watch the Video
Backstroke. The backstroke is the easiest stroke to learn. It’s just like the crawl except on your back. Watch the Video
Breaststroke. The basics are: your arms pull in a sweeping motion , you breathe, you frog kick (arms alternate with the kick), you glide. Watch the Video
Butterfly. This is a difficult stroke and not recommended for beginners because it requires perfect timing and strength. During the stroke, the legs move together in a dolphin kick (imagine your legs and feet as a mermaid’s tail), the arms move together to push the water downward and backward, and the torso moves like an earthworm as you move forward through the water. Watch the Video
Why It’s Good for You
- Uses all the major muscle groups.
- Helps build a strong heart
- Develops muscle strength, endurance and flexibility.
Because of natural buoyancy, most people can paddle around without a lesson if they feel comfortable in the water. But, lessons from a qualified teacher will improve technique and enjoyment. A qualified swim instructor will have some type of certification, usually from the American Red Cross.
Any recreation center, Y, fitness center or senior center with a pool should offer swim lessons. Here’s how to find your Y.
USA Swimming is the National Governing Body for the sport of swimming in the United States. They promote swimming and create opportunities for swimmers to participate and advance in the sport through clubs, events and education.