Three Popular Beginning Swimming Styles

Front crawl, backstroke, and breaststroke are the most popular different forms of swimming styles. Each style has varying propulsion and effectiveness in using the upper and lower body. For example, the breaststroke provides equal energy between the upper and lower extremities, making this one of the most popular swimming styles. In all other strokes, the effectiveness of the leg action is less important than the arm action.

The front crawl is the fastest swimming style, followed by the butterfly, the backstroke or back crawl, and finally, the breaststroke. However, the latest advances in technique indicate that the times recorded in the butterfly are getting closer and closer to the crawl’s speed.

types of swimming styles

Popular and easy to learn swimming styles

The Front Crawl

The front crawl stroke can also be referred to as the freestyle stroke. However, freestyle is technically not a stroke name. It is a category in swimming competitions. The front crawl is primarily used in a freestyle competition because it is the fastest swimming style. It is also usually the first taught in swimming schools for being the simplest.

The first reported use of the front crawl in competition was in London 1844. The swimmer is in a prone position and consists of the action of the arms. Better known as the stroke alternatively simulating the moving blades of a windmill, followed by many kicks, which varies according to the swimmer and the distance to be covered.

Some of the regulations for freestyle (where the front crawl style is used) competitions are:

  • Any part of the swimmer’s body must touch the wall when completing each length of the pool, including the finish.
  • Some part of the swimmer must break the water’s surface during the development of the competition, except for exits and turns, in which the swimmer may be submerged for a distance no greater than 15 meters or around 49 feet.
woman swimming front crawl or freestyle style

Backstroke or Back Crawl

In the backstroke or back crawl style, the swimmer is usually in a dorsal position and consists of a complete action of both arms and leg beats. It arose in the year 1912 has some modifications in the technique in the year 1993. This style has a special regulation at the time of the competitions. For example: in the starting position, swimmers must be holding onto the starting platforms, among others.

Some of the regulations for backstroke competitions are:

  • In the starting position, the swimmers must be holding onto the starting platforms; the feet, including the toes, will be below the surface of the water.
  • Some part of the swimmer must break the water’s surface during each lap of the competition. However, the swimmer is not allowed to advance fully submerged after the start and in the turns more than 15 meters or around 49 feet.
  • During the turn, the swimmer will be able to turn on his/her vertical towards the chest (turn in a belly position) and then perform a single or double stroke to start the turn, touching the wall with any part of his/her body. The swimmer must return to the back position immediately after leaving the border, travel a distance of no more than 15 meters under the water, and smoothly rising to the surface of the water to continue the stroke.
  • On arrival, you must touch the wall in the back position, being able to be submerged at this time.
two girls swimming backstroke style


Breaststroke or chest-style: This style is the oldest since its movements and posture are considered natural. Although it has evolved over the years, it is the slowest of the four swimming styles. In this style, the swimmer is in the ventral position and performs simultaneous and symmetrical arm and leg movements. The shoulders and hips perform an upward and downward trend that, coordinated with the arms’ direction.

Another essential characteristic of the breaststroke that differentiates it from the rest of the styles is that, in propulsion, the action of the arms and the legs’ movement share a 50% importance; that is, they provide the same degree of propulsion.

Some of the regulations for breaststroke competitions are:

  • It is not allowed to turn towards the back at any time.
  • The movements of the arms and legs will be simultaneous and in the same horizontal plane.
  • Hands should be propelled together, forward, in front of the chest, down or over the water.
  • The elbows must be kept underwater, except at the time of turning and landing.
  • In the arm action, the hands may not go beyond the hip line, except for the first stroke after the start and each turn.
  • In the act of legs or kick, movements in the form of scissors or dolphins are not allowed.
slowest swimming stroke breaststroke

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