Swimming is a popular activity that is not only fun but also provides a variety of physical and psychological benefits. Swimmers enjoy a whole body workout that strengthens all the muscles in the body while promoting joint flexibility. This activity reduces blood pressure, improves aerobic capacity, and has a positive effect on cardiovascular health. Learning to swim is easy for most people but beginners can benefit from having different swimming strokes explained.
The flutter kick and sculling water are two basic techniques that can help beginners stay afloat. Flutter kicks are used in more advanced techniques, including the backstroke and freestyle stroke. The flutter kick involves whipping the legs back and forth and is effective in both the supine and prone positions.
Sculling water allows the swimmer to float upright with the head above water. Both arms are extended out at shoulder level and a quick sweeping movement of the arms keeps the body afloat. Combining a flutter kick with sculling water is known as treading water. Treading water is a good way to rest during a swim to avoid fatigue.
The dog paddle is among the most basic of techniques and one that many children start with to become acclimated with propelling themselves through the water. To dog paddle, float on the stomach while holding the head above water. While using a flutter kick, paddle the arms in a forward and downward motion.
To do the freestyle stroke, position the body belly down and parallel to the pool’s bottom. While using a flutter kick slightly below the surface, lift one arm keeping the elbow bent, and reaching forward with the hand slightly cupped. Extend the arm fully behind you as you repeat the motion with the other arm. When the arm is moving forward, the body should pivot to that side.
The breaststroke is popular with many recreational swimmers because it is simple to do and relaxing without putting as much stress on the arms and shoulders as the freestyle stroke. The swimmer assumes a prone position. The arms and legs move simultaneously to propel the body forward. Both arms move in a half-circular movement under the surface while the legs complete consecutive whip kicks. The swimmer should look downward rather than forward towards the edge of the pool.
A whip kick involves flexing the knees and bringing the feet toward the buttocks simultaneously. The knees then move in opposite directions while the feet turn outwards. The legs are swept backwards and outwards to use the feet and lower legs to push against the water. Extend the legs backwards while sweeping inwards and rotating the feet inward. This presses the legs together and puts the feet right next to each other.
The backstroke is faster than the breaststroke but slower than freestyle. This technique provides a great workout for the back muscles and upper arms. To start, float on the back with the face sticking above water and eyes looking skyward. As one arm executes a semi-circle above the water’s surface, the opposite arm sweeps back toward the hip underneath the surface. The hand on the arm that is underwater makes a shape like an S to help provide propulsion. While the arms alternate movements, the feet execute a flutter kick. The flutter kick is performed by placing the legs next to each other, pointing the feet, and alternately kicking each foot upward and downward.
The butterfly stroke is among the more difficult swimming techniques to learn. While it provides a good upper body workout, even expert swimmers find it exhausting. To begin, float on the stomach and extend both arms forward at shoulder width apart and with the palms facing downward. Extend the legs next to each other with the knees slightly bent and feet pointed.
The stroke begins with both arms moving outward and the elbows bent. The chest rises above the surface as the hands move toward the chest. As the hands move, the swimmer drives the hips down and bends the knees. When the hands reach the chest, they start to move toward the hips while both feet move together to execute the first dolphin kick. This is when the shoulders and chest are out of the water. The hands come out of the water as the palms face inwards. After hovering above the water, the arms return to the starting position as the palms rotate downwards. When the arms reenter the water, the swimmer executes a second dolphin kick and begins another stroke cycle.