Learn to Swim

A guide to the Learn to Swim Programme

Swimming Stroke Awards

All Awards

The Swimming Stroke Awards are great for children keen to show their skills in individual strokes.

Covering backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, freestyle and individual medley, these five Awards encourage swimmers to learn the correct skills in strokes, turns and finishes before learning to swim faster.

Objectives of the Swim England Swimming Stroke Awards


  1. Body Position: Close to surface. Undulating – initiated from the hips.
  2. Legs: Kick from hips. Drive feet down forcefully. Toes pointed.
  3. Arms: Entry in front in line with shoulders. Hands scull out then under body. Release at or past hips. Recovery totally over water.
  4. Breathing: To front or side. Head down before arms enter. Head up before hands release.
    Timing: 1. Kick as hands enter. 2. Kick as hands push. Continuous action (no glide).
  5. Turns: As breaststroke up to push off. After push kick in stretch. One pull smoothly into stroke.
  6. Finish: In stretch position. According to Law.


  1. Body Position: Horizontal. Close to surface. In alignment. Head steady.
  2. Legs: Alternating kick. Just breaking surface. Holding alignment.
  3. Arms: Shoulder line entry with straight arm. Pull/push as close to body as possible. Release past hip. Vertical recovery. No pause in action. Regular.
  4. Timing: Continuity of arm action. Rhythmic.
  5. Turns: Use of flags where possible. Confident, unhesitating roll on to front, check orientation. Fast somersault. Push and stretch off wall, kick then pull with one arm into stroke.
  6. Finish: Confident fast finish. On back. At full stretch. One hand touch.


  1. Body Position: Stretched. Streamlined position. Head kept steady. Hips just below surface. Toes pointed.
  2. Legs: Heels draw up toward seat feet pointing out for kick. Kick accelerating round to straighten in one sweep.
  3. Arms: From stretch, hands sweep out (never past shoulders). Hands and elbows sweep in at speed towards hips. Hands push forward to streamlined full stretch.
  4. Breathing: To front, shoulders square. Normally every stroke lift head as arms press down.
  5. Timing: Pull and breathe. As arms extend forwards, legs drive backward. Pull, breathe, kick, glide.
  6. Turns: Touch according to Law. Fast tuck and rocking action. Stay low. Push, glide and stroke (as for start).
  7. Finish: In stretch position. According to Law.

Front Crawl

  1. Body Position: Horizontal. Streamlined. Close to surface. In alignment.
  2. Legs: In line with body. Close to surface kick as necessary to ensure above.
  3. Arms: Entry under control. Thumb and finger entry. Between head and shoulder line. Pull/push within body width. Continuous action. Close to body plane.
  4. Breathing: To side. Head in line. Regular. Confident. Exhale in water.
  5. Timing: Rhythmic action. Regular and consistent breathing pattern.
  6. Turns: Unhesitating. Fast somersault. Push to full stretch. Turn onto front after push off. Pull with one arm into stroke.
  7. Finish: Fast. One hand touch. Aggressive. Hold breath on approach.

Individual Medley

All strokes are swum according to the above guide with no rest between the four sections.