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Swimming: Breaststroke

Breastroke is one of the main types of strokes involved in swimming and is sometimes the one that people find the hardest to get the hang of. Although, this doesn’t have to be the case, as with our swimming tips for breaststroke you can pick up the technique easily! Especially because of the swimming benefits you can achieve by doing one of our swimming workouts, including breaststroke, mean that you will be toning muscle and building strength, which is why swimming is such a popular activity.

Swimming for beginners requires you learning how to swim, trying out different swimming exercises and mastering the different strokes, such as breastroke. It may all seem hard at first but once you are comfortable in the water, you will surprise yourself on what you are capable of doing. Front crawl is usually the least daunting stroke that most swimmers use for their basic knowledge before moving on to the more complex breast stroke.

How to do breaststroke?

Usually one of the strokes that you are taught first, due to how great it is for fitness, some people find it hard to get breastroke right. On your chest in the water, your arms will move synchronously in a half circle motion with your head above the water. Keeping your feet together, bend your knees so your feet move towards your chest and then kick out bringing them back together. You do not move your legs and arms at the same time, but rather consecutively as the motions flow easily from one to the other.


Breaststroke Technique

To make sure you perfect your breaststroke, we have put together some useful tips that should help you get the right swimming technique:

  • Maximise your streamline – due to this stroke being less streamlined, when returning your arms and legs to normal positions streamline your body as much as you can even though it is for a short period
  • Keep your hips raised – make sure that the kick doesn’t drag you down, keep your legs and hips in line rather than below each other
  • Sweeping shouldn’t be wide – propulsion comes from your legs so when sweeping your arms out, the aim is not to stretch them as wide as possible but to sweep efficiently
  • Timing – you should never be in a still, flat position but your arms and legs should be working consecutively

The following video will give you a better idea on how to do the breaststroke with a few drills for when you practise too:


Swimming: Backstroke

Backstroke, also known as back crawl, is the only main types of strokes in swimming where you are lying on your back with your face towards the sky. It is also considered to be one of the slower strokes, faster than breaststroke, but competitively can still be swum at high speeds. Swimming not only involves different strokes, but try out some new swimming exercises or swimming workouts for a change to your normal routine!

You might choose to take up swimming for fun or for fitness, either way it is a great activity that comes with many swimming benefits if you know the correct swimming technique. Our information on swimming for beginners is a great starting point for those who are less-experienced.

How to do backstroke?

This stroke is very similar to front crawl except the actions are all reversed to be on your back. With your body straight, lying on your back in the water, keep your head above the surface and your legs together. Gently kick, in the style of a flutter kick, and alternate bringing your arms out of the water. Your arm should start by your side, rise out of the water with your palm facing your body and then reach over your head and scoop back into the water.

Back Stroke Diagram

Backstroke Technique

If you are a more experienced swimmer and want to perfect your backstroke technique, then follow our tips to see the improvement!

  • There should be no strain on your neck – keep your neck and shoulders relaxed, at a normal height, there is no need to exert lots of energy keeping your head very high out of the water as this slows you down
  • Twist your palms – leaving the water your palms should face you body with your thumb exiting first, entering the water your palm should face out with your little finger entering first
  • Kick from the hips – keep your legs close together, try not to use your knees to kick as this creates more splash
  • Breathe! – create a consistent breathing pattern to increase speed

For further help, here are some backstroke drills that you can practise in the pool and view more swimming tips:


Swimming: Front Crawl

Swimming is a great sport to get involved in and includes several types of strokes for you to find out your strengths. One of those swimming strokes include the front crawl, usually the first one that you learn and the one that every swimmer feels comfortable doing. If you want a change, try our alternative swimming exercises or swimming workouts that will get your muscles working hard and improve your fitness.

This sport comes with several swimming benefits that are great for your body and your health. Figure out the best way to improve your swimming technique by looking at our swimming tips and you’ll be moving easier through the water in no time!

How to do front crawl?

If you are starting off doing swimming for beginners and are unsure how exactly to do this stroke, then do not fear! It is a great one to start with and once you master this the rest will be easy. With your face down in the water, the aim is to keep your body straight and streamline so begin gently kicking with your feet moving your ankles and only slightly your legs. Bring your one arm out of the water, upwards and over your head to reach in front of you and drag it under the water back to your side. Repeat this with your other arm whilst kicking the whole time.

Front Crawl

Front Crawl Technique

Once you have got the basics in tune, have a look at our front crawl tips to get your technique at its best:

  • Roll your hips – keep your head still while moving and as you bring up your arm, slightly tilt your hips in the same direction
  • Let your shoulders follow – follow your arm movements and follow your hip action
  • Re-entry of your arm – after the reach, keep your palm facing down and slightly slanted with your thumb being the first to re-enter the water
  • Keep your legs straight – when kicking your legs should be close together and straight with non-heavy movements

For a more detailed explanation of the front crawl and some drills you can practise, view this video:


Types of Strokes

The art of swimming is found in the different swimming strokes. Swimming consists of 5 main types of strokes that are considered official and are included in main sporting events and the Olympics. Here you will find information and descriptions about each one to help you master them and decide which ones you enjoy the most.

Once you have learnt how to swim, and focused on some important swimming techniques, then you are ready to explore the different strokes. Swimming for beginners is how everyone starts out and improves through practice. You might want to try some different swimming exercises at first before moving onto the more complicated strokes. If you are already an experienced swimmer then take a look at our swimming workouts for an alternative.

Different Swimming Strokes

The following types of strokes are the most popular and important ones in the world of swimming. Once you have tried each one, you should focus on what you enjoy most. Swimming is a great activity for weight loss or fitness, and can also be enjoyed as a fun hobby for both children and adults.

  • Front Crawl: one of the first strokes you will learn, alternative arm movements while swimming on your front
  • Breaststroke: the slowest of strokes, alternative leg and arm movements with more bend
  • Backstroke: the only stroke swum on your back, alternative arm movements
  • Butterfly: most complicated stroke involving a different style of kick and synchronous arm movements
  • Freestyle: a category of swimming style used in competitions

Take a look at our swimming tips for more detailed help and advice.

Swimming Diagram


How to Swim

Learning to swim, whether you are teaching yourself as an adult or teaching a child, can be daunting if you have no experience of being in the water. Swimming should be something fun not scary, so we want to help you learn how to swim and enjoy every minute of it! Our advice here is mainly aimed at swimming for beginners, to help those that are starting from zero but if you have had lessons or are a more experienced swimmer then check out our swimming tips or different types of strokes for further information.

Perfecting the correct swimming technique will take practice as you spend more time in the water. Once you’ve got it, you’ll be sure to feel the swimming benefits, such as muscle toning and strengthening. Swimming is a great activity for all ages and you should be able to enjoy it as much as possible so we have put together a basic guide to help you learn to swim.

Learning to Swim

When learning how to swim, your safety is the most important thing. It is recommendable to enroll in swimming classes at a gym or local swimming pool but if you want to get ahead of the game then follow our swimming basics below. If you are comfortable enough in the water then you can try by yourself, if not take someone experienced with you, wear armbands or use other appropriate swimming attire, and always make sure there is a lifeguard on duty.

  • First things first, get comfortable in the water, whether that means starting off by just dipping in your feet and slowly progressing to get your whole body in the water.
  • Breathing underwater is the next step to make sure you feel safe when swimming, start by inhaling a deep breath and going underwater for a few second to come back up and let it out. Move on to exhaling under water as well.
  • Practice normal exercises you would do on land, but now underwater. For example, playing catch, running, throwing a brick under and jumping to collect it…
  • Learn to float on water, both on your back and on your front but also on your sides, dipping your head under and holding it up.
  • Perfect your swimming kick by holding on to the edge of a swimming pool, progress by replacing the wall with a noodle or float so you can start moving through the water.
  • When you feel like you are comfortable with all of the above, and you know yourself or the person you are teaching to be ready to move on, then take a look at beginning the swimming strokes.

Everyone learns how to swim at different paces which is important to remember. You might want to begin to learn in the shallow end of a pool to get used to doing movement underwater and then move on to the deep end. Move on to the next step when you are ready and do not be afraid if at first you don’t quite get it, keep practising!


Swimming Exercises

Swimming exercises do not just include laps! If you didn’t already know, swimming is a diverse activity that not only includes a variety of types of strokes, but also different exercises and actions you can do underwater without having to tire yourself doing laps. You can put them together to create swimming workouts or simply if you are looking for a new fitness routine.

Exercising underwater can come with some great swimming benefits, such as muscle toning and weight loss. It is also a fun way to keep active and can be done with friends or as a family! Once you know how to swim and feel comfortable in the water, then try out some of the different, fun activities you can get involved in.

5 Best Underwater Exercises

The swimming pool is not just for doing laps! There are a huge variety of swimming exercises that you can try out to get your heart rate pumping and your muscles active. We have selected our favourite 5 swimming exercises for you:

  • Roman Chair: using a float/kickboards and holding them behind your back, bring your feet together bending your knees to raise your legs into a chair position
  • Jogging: jogging under water with your upper body above the water, normal jogging if your feet are touching ground, use floatation devices if they are not
  • Otter Roll: holding a ball towards your chest, lay on your back in the water, keep your legs extended and feet together, turn to your left bringing your whole body above the ball and facing into the water
  • Wave Maker: with your hands holding onto the side wall of a pool, keep your head above water and your body underwater extended with feet and knees together, bend your knees down in a dolphin action, kick as hard and fast as possible
  • Bicycle: with your back against pool wall and your arms raised and bent above the water giving you support, kick your legs under the water in bicycle motion

Check out your local gym and swimming pool for special water classes, such as water aerobics, water zumba or water polo to get involved in as further examples of swimming exercises. Here is a short video with some more great underwater exercises:


Swimming Technique

Mastering a great swimming technique will take a few simple steps and lots of practice in the pool. Swimming does not have to be difficult as it can be altered to your level of ability and what you want to achieve. After you have got to grips with the basics of how to swim, then it is time you looked at the correct swimming technique needed to make you feel comfortabel in the water.

If you are learning about swimming for beginners, then make sure you understand fully the types of strokes first before looking at your technique. If you are more experienced, then the information below will be good for you to improve and make sure you are doing everything correctly. Check out our swimming tips for further help, or our swimming workouts for alternative ways to get better!

How to Improve Your Swimming Technique

Before attempting to improve your swimming technique, make sure that you are comfortable with the basics of swimming and entering the water. It is important to not be afraid of being underwater as you need to be able to control your breathing to master the technique.

  • Be comfortable just floating in the water, learning to float is a basic part of understanding how your body reacts to the water and how you can learn to balance
  • Master the flutter kick which is a good principle to know before mastering the strokes, it will also help you to scull and tread water which are important skills too
  • Doggy paddle is a type of movement in the water where you are floating above and moving at the same time, it builds the strength in your muscles which are needed for the complex strokes
  • Make as little splash as possible with both your arms and feet, this improves the streamline shape your body will make in the water
  • Keep your balance when swimming as this will decrease the drag of the water, as you bring your head up to breath you should remember what the rest of your body is doing
  • Improving your propulsion through the water is vital by rocking more side to side, using your core muscles for movement and anchoring your arms

Have a look at our swimming exercises for more ways to improve your strength underwater and the swimming benefits to motivate you to improve your technique.