Learn to Swim Companion

A guide for parents and learners

Tips for learning the four swimming strokes

Learners

Learning the four swimming strokes comes after you have mastered the basic skills of swimming. For children and adults this about Stage 3 of the Learn to Swim Pathway.

If you have reached this point then we have collated some tips below to help you learn the four swimming strokes: front crawl, breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly.

Tips for learning the four swimming strokes

Front Crawl

  • Float on your front with your face in the water, stretching your body as long as possible.
  • Keep your legs long with toes pointed. Kick your legs up and down (alternating) making your ankles as floppy as possible, using your feet like flippers. Kick your legs fast and continuously.
  • Start with your arms stretched out long in front of your head. Pull one arm under your body all the way to the thigh. Bring your arm out of the water and sweep it over the water stretching it ready to enter the water in front of your head. Keep pulling your arms in a continuous movement so that as one arm enters, the other is ready to exit at the thigh.
  • Turn your head to the side to breathe in. Turn as one arm is stretched in front and one at the thigh. Try to keep one ear in the water as you turn your head. As the arm sweeps over the water return your face back into the water and breathe out.

Breaststroke

  • Float on your front with your face in the water, stretching your body as long as possible. Keep your hands together.
  • Keep your legs long and stretch your toes. Bend your knees slowly and bring your feet towards your bottom. Bend at the ankles to point your feet outwards then kick back and slightly downwards and snap your feet together.
  • Keep your head in the water and stretch your arms out in front. Turn your hands so that the thumbs point down with both hands pressing out and round. Turn your hands so the thumbs point up and draw the hands together in a small circular action in front of the shoulders.
  • Lift your head to breathe in as the arms start to come together, stretch your arms out and return your head to the water to breathe out. Breath every stroke: “Pull, Breathe, Kick, Glide”.

Backstroke

  • Float on your back, with your ears just in the water and eyes looking up; stretch your body as long as possible.
  • Keep your legs long with pointed toes; kick your legs up and down (alternating) making your ankles as floppy as possible, using your feet like flippers. Knees should be kept under the water with your toes making a small splash. Kick your legs fast and continuously.
  • Start with your arms stretched down the side of your body. Your arm should be kept straight bringing it out of the water over the top in an arc action. Enter your hands into the water with your little fingers first, keeping your arm straight. Pull your arm under the water all the way to the thigh. Keep pulling your arms in a continuous movement as one arm enters, the other is ready to exit at the thigh.
  • A breath is taken regularly as and when required and at least once during the stroke.

Butterfly

  • Float on your front with your face in the water, stretching your body as long as possible.
  • Undulate your body from head to toes, in a whipping motion, bending and straightening your knees. Keeping your legs and feet close together, push down on the water with the top of your feet and keep your feet just under the surface of the water.
  • Enter both hands in the water at the same time, in line with your shoulders. Pull your arms under the body through to your hips. Recover your arms over the water surface ready to begin again.
  • Push your chin forward to take a breath; the breath should be taken towards the end of the pull. As your arm sweeps over the water return your face back into the water and breathe out. Perform two kicks to each arm cycle, kicking at the start of the arm pull and towards the end of the pull “Kick your arms in, kick your arms out”.

For advanced technique on learning the four swimming strokes head over to the swimming.org Masters Hub here.

Top