There are many swimming strokes: the butterfly, front crawl, sidestroke, breaststroke, doggy paddle, trudgen stroke etc. And while they are all used, some are used more frequently than others and each one has its advantages and disadvantages.
Here is a quick look at the four most common swimming strokes.
Good strength and cardiovascular workout; works your shoulders, chest and lat muscles
The Breaststroke is one of the few strokes that can be done with your head above or under the water and is usually the first stroke that we learn as children.
Because it can be done without submerging yourself in water, it makes it easier to breath and gives you better site lines (saving you from the pain of swimming into a wall).
Also, when doing the breast stroke, your leg and arm movements are relatively synchronous, which means the rhythm is easier to pick up than that of other more complex strokes.
But, if you are using the breast stroke, don’t expect to win any races because it isn’t very fast.
Has the greatest force; works your chest, lat and back muscles
Freestyle is also known as the front crawl and is the fastest and most efficient swim stroke. That means you can get much farther on the same amount of energy used for other strokes.
It is the preferred stroke of many swimmers and is used for long distance swimming because of its efficiency.
Unfortunately, the freestyle stroke is not as easy to pick up as the breaststroke. It requires proper coordination, of breathing and swimming, to be used effectively. And, you have to know how to hold your breath because you will be submerged in the water for a large portion of your swim.
When we learned how to do the freestyle stroke in swim class, I remember the teacher would make us say (in our head of course) “Pepsi, Coke, 7Up”. Each pop would be one stroke and we would have to turn our heads and breath when we thought “Up”.
Good recovery swim post workout; works you back and hamstrings
The backstroke, as its name suggest, is done on your back. Well it can be difficult to find your balance to stay afloat, once you do, you won’t have to worry about holding your breath. It’s more efficient than the backstroke but slower than freestyle.
This stroke also provides poor visibility – unless you are interested in something on the ceiling.
Fun fact: the backstroke has been used to help people with back problems because it is such as good workout for the back muscles
The Butterfly Stroke
Burns fat and boosts metabolism; works your chest, back, core and shoulders
The butterfly stroke is a very impressive swimming stroke that uses a wave like movement and a dolphin kick. It is also the second fastest stroke, next to the front crawl.
But, while it’s fast, it’s also very tiring and requires a more complicated body movement than the other strokes.
Up for a challenge? Learn all of these strokes. Not only will it add variety to your swimming experience, it will also ensure you are working out almost every muscle in your body.