Any swimmer will tell you that you will first need to master the four fundamental types of swimming strokes or styles before you can move on to other types. Even if you are not going to be seriously competing anytime soon, your knowledge of these four basic strokes will help you get a feel for swimming and enjoy it in its entirety.
The Freestyle – Also known as the front crawl, the freestyle is one of the most basic styles or forms of swimming. If you want speed and efficiency in the swimming pool, this is the style to master. Many serious swimmers as well as triathletes prefer this style over the other styles of swimming simply because it is very efficient and provides very fast propulsion.
It involves alternating movement of the arms, with one arm providing propulsion while the other recovers above water. While the arms provide the propulsion and recovery, the legs alternately kick upwards and downwards in a flutter. Freestyle or front crawl is the preferred stroke for performance swimmers That is why they call it the flutter kick. From the freestyle are different variations such as the dolphin crawl, the catch up stroke, the Trudgen, and the head-high crawl or lifeguard approach stroke.
The Breast Stroke – If this is your first time learning how to swim, chances are you will be first taught on how to execute the breast stroke. This is especially true if you havent mastered the art of keeping your head fully submerged under water while swimming. Unlike the freestyle, the breast stroke is rather slow. In fact, it is the slowest of all the fundamental swimming styles. Both arms move in a synchronous manner by executing a relatively short and half-circular movements in the water. Additionally, instead of a flutter kick, the legs execute a synchronous whip kick. For advanced swimmers, they often keep their heads submerged to help improve efficiency and allow them to swim faster.
The Butterfly – One of the most gracious swimming events you can ever watch is the butterfly. This is second to freestyle in terms of speed and efficiency. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most difficult to learn and master. But, once you have gained an understanding of the different techniques associated with this style of swimming, you will be virtually unstoppable in the water. The movement requires synchronous stroke of the arms that allow them to recover above water and propel the body underwater. The body follows an undulating wave-like movement followed by the signature dolphin kick. This is quite tiring but one of the most fulfilling. Because of the body undulations, its one of the most preferred styles for whole body workouts.
The Backstroke – This style of swimming sits well between a breast stroke and a butterfly in terms of speed. It is just like the freestyle with the only difference being you are swimming on your back. This is therefore excellent for individuals who may have low back problems.
These are the four basic swimming styles. For absolute beginners, the breast stroke offers the best option. For speed and grace however, the butterfly should be perfect.