Swimming

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There’s a lot to learn about swimming — from different strokes, to more advanced events like synchronized swimming — dive in and learn more about this sport. Don’t forget your swim cap!

Swimming

Think you know the secret to winning a freestyle, a backstroke, butterfly, or breaststroke race?

 

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The Front Crawl is one of the fastest and most common swimming styles. This stroke, typically used in freestyle swimming competitions, has many variations. Since this stroke is highly efficient in terms of energy output in relation to the speed and force of the stroke exerted, many swimmers adapt the style to fit their needs.

When swimming a front crawl, one's body is face down in the water as your arms stroke up behind your ear, scooping the water behind you as your legs kick up and down in a flutter kick. With each alternating stroke of the arms, your body will roll slightly to each side, allowing for air intake. Due to the position of the swimmer's chest, there is minimal drag, which is why this stroke is so easy to master and why it's the fastest stroke.

Swimmer's Tip: Try to push off from the wall the same way each time, this will help you build muscle memory and make your laps faster in the future.

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In addition to the Front Crawl, the Breaststroke is an easy swim style to master for beginners because the stroke allows for more stability and for the head to be above water much of the time. The best way to describe this stroke is to break up the arm movements into three steps: outsweep, insweep, and recovery. Your legs work in tandem with your arms in the frog kick.

The outsweep begins with your hands pressed palms together in front of you as if you are praying. Then, the hands sweep outward, parallel to the surface, but moving away from the midline of your body. Next, your hands point downward to push the water back and propel you forward. This is the insweep. As you sweep the water back, your hands move towards your chest for a brief recovery period as you position your hands in the starting position.

When doing your frog kick, be sure to keep your knees close to the surface of the water to prevent drag. Don't forget to use the biggest thrust in your kicking movement during the biggest movement of your arms in the insweep.

Swimmer's Tip: If you're a beginner, you may not know realize the importance of wearing the right swimsuit. By wearing a streamlined, fitted swimsuit like a competitive swimmer, your body will move more easily in the water, improving your technique. A competitive swimming style suit will also be less distracting because it will stay in place.

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Where the Front Crawl is easy, the Butterfly is as difficult. For experienced swimmers, the Butterfly requires strength, speed and skill different from other swim styles. Since the swimmer's arms and legs move simultaneously, the Butterfly requires more strength and energy than the Front Crawl.

As the most difficult and newest swim style recognized by the International Swimming Foundation, the Butterfly stroke is often not recommended for beginners. If the swimmer has any flaw in their technique, the stroke doesn't work well and it can be frustrating. The simultaneous movement of the arms and legs, combined with the drag of having your chest out of the water at the peak movement, make this move challenging.

The Butterfly stroke begins with a similar arm movement to the breaststroke, but in the outsweep, the arms reach out in a "Y," pressing downward as the arms move in a strong semi-circle. After, the arms should be positioned pointing straight back. When pushing the water in the "Y" position, the arms move only 1/3 towards to hips until the stroke begins again. The swimmer's legs move in a dolphin kick motion to help with speed and stability.

Swimmer's Tip: Always swim with good technique. It's better to swim slower and do a stroke correctly than to rush and get in the habit of using bad form. If you can, ask a friend who familiar with swim strokes to observe your technique to make sure you're on the right track. A little helpful critique can go a long way, especially with a difficult stroke.

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Ah, the Backstroke. Old Baloo the Bear from The Jungle Book movie knew this stroke well. Though he was able to float around luxuriously with food on his belly, we recommend eating after your swim. As the most awkward stroke in terms of arm movement, the Backstroke is done on the swimmer's back, like the name suggests.

Though this stroke allows for easy breathing, since your head is facing away from the water, it does require some skill to direct where you are swimming. No doubt your first go will send you into the next lane, but after a little practice you'll be able to navigate properly.

Similar to the Front Crawl, swimmers combine a backward, alternating arm scoop with a flutter kick to propel them through the water. With each stroke the palm of the hand is always facing away from the direction you are swimming, pulling the water towards your feet. Your alternating kicks in a flutter kick movement will help stabilize your body in the water, though your arms are responsible for most of your speed.

Swimmer's Tip: Vary your swim work outs. Be sure to incorporate easy and hard swim strokes into your routine so you develop skills that will keep you from getting bored. Also, it's best to swim often and to incorporate drills in your work out. Drills help refine your technique and will extend your exercise time.

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