swimming strokes

Basic Swimming Strokes and their Benefits

1. Freestyle/ Front Crawl Stroke
This stroke calls for you to kick hard with your feet, while bringing your arms over your head and into the water one at a time. You must keep your body as straight as possible, as any lateral movements will slow you down. Your breathing also holds importance, as you must time the breaths that you take with your swimming strokes.

swimming strokes

Benefits Of The Freestyle Stroke:

  • Gives your entire body a proper aerobic workout.
  • Your arms to get stronger as they push the water away and propel you forward.
  • Your legs, in turn, need to kick and power that forward motion.
  • Swimming freestyle uses your core, arms, neck, shoulders, chest, upper back, and legs.
  • Of all the strokes, this one is most effective at toning your back muscles.
  • In other words, pretty much all your joints and muscles are in play!

You stand to burn anywhere 330 calories per half hour of swimming the crawl or freestyle if you weigh around 125 pounds or 409 calories per half hour if you weigh 155 pounds.

2. Breast Stroke

Here, you move your legs in a manner similar to a frog kick, with the knees bending, and kick out below you inside the water. Your arms move in one stroke, starting at breast level. As you push the water away with your arms, it propels the head out of the water naturally, allowing you to take a breath. The breaststroke is the swimming stroke that is linked to the lowest number of shoulder pain complaints from swimming. Although you do need to lift your head to breathe, the way you lift your upper body is more natural than in the butterfly stroke, so your lower back and spine are less likely to experience strain as well.

swimming strokes

Benefits Of The Breaststroke:

  • Uses your leg muscles, from your hamstrings to thighs and lower legs.
  • It also works your chest muscles and tone up your upper back and triceps.

Plus, you’ll burn off 300 to 444 calories per half hour depending on how much you weigh.

3. Butterfly Stroke

The butterfly stroke calls for you to bring both arms over your head at the same time and push them into the water to propel yourself. The butterfly stroke uses a dolphin-style kick, which means that your legs will stay straight and together as you kick them through the water. When using the butterfly stroke, you must remember to stabilize yourself with your core and create a rhythm between the underwater and above-water portions of the stroke.

swimming strokes

Benefits Of The Butterfly Stroke:

  • The butterfly stroke engages your core.
  • It also uses your upper body strength, so doing this stroke can help tone up your arms, chest, stomach, and back muscles.
  • It could even help improve posture and make your body more supple and flexible – because of how much you need to extend your limbs and torso to achieve the right movement.

Doing the butterfly stroke for half an hour uses 330 calories for a 125 pound person, 409 calories for a 155 pound person, and as many as 488 calories in a 185 pound person, making it the swimming stroke that can help you burn the most calories. Just take care to do it right to avoid pulling a muscle or straining your back, neck, or shoulders.

4. Backstroke

Sometimes referred to as a back crawl, the backstroke is the fastest stroke performed on your back. Your arms alternate the pushing and pulling parts of the stroke with a circular, windmill motion. As one arm extends forward and enters the water, the other is exiting. Your legs alternate in an up-and-down motion, to perform the flutter kick. Your face is out of the water, which allows you to develop your own breathing pattern.

swimming strokes

Benefits Of The Backstroke:

  • Helps you lengthen your spine, making you seem taller and helping you hold yourself better.
  • You will also tone your shoulders, legs, arms, buttocks, and stomach with this stroke.
  • Helps work your hips, it is a great choice for anyone who sits long hours at work or home.

The backstroke may not be as high on the calorie burn front as the breaststroke, butterfly stroke, or even the crawl. But it can help you use as many calories as circuit training, cycling at 12–13.9 mph, or running at 5 mph. And that’s nothing to scoff at! Burn around 240 calories with every 30 minutes of backstroke if you’re around 125 pounds; or use as many as 355 calories in that time if you tip the scales at 185 pounds.

Hopefully this information of swimming strokes may help you in improving your technique.


For more detailed swimming guide, you can read our blog “How to Swim- Beginner’s guide