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Top 5 Styles Of Swimming And Their Benefits

Top 5 Styles Of Swimming And Their Benefits

Swimming is an individual sport that involves moving the entire body through water. While it might sound simple, it actually requires considerable effort to counter the drag created by water's viscosity. Although one may feel lighter in water, the drag prevents muscles from relaxing during movement. This aspect makes swimming a great exercise for muscles without stressing the joints. There are five main types of swimming styles: freestyle, breaststroke, butterfly, backstroke, and sidestroke. Let's delve into the techniques, benefits, and muscles involved in each style.

Front Crawl (Freestyle)

Front Crawl
The front crawl, also known as freestyle, is characterized by maximum speed with minimal effort. Swimmers assume a prone horizontal position, using flutter kicks and alternating arm movements to create the necessary thrust. Quick, compact kicks keep the feet pointed, while the arms pull the water back alternately. Breathing occurs sideways as an arm recovers, with inhalation happening quickly and exhalation occurring in the water. This stroke is efficient because it minimizes drag during arm recovery and ensures constant propulsion.

Muscles involved: core and abdominal muscles for streamlining and lifting during breathing, forearm muscles for pulling water, glutes and hamstrings for leg propulsion and balance, and shoulder muscles for hand entry and reach underwater.


Breaststroke is performed in a prone position, with the body inclined from horizontal during movement. This stroke features frog-like kicks and simultaneous hand movements underwater. Legs are bent and kicked outward to propel the body, while arms move symmetrically from an extended forward position to beneath the chest. Breathing occurs at the end of propulsion. Breaststroke is the slowest of the main strokes and is often taught first to beginners due to the head being above water most of the time.

Muscles involved: pectoral and latissimus dorsi muscles for inward arm movement, and glutes and quadriceps for leg kicks.

Butterfly Stroke:

The butterfly stroke involves a prone position with wave-like body movements, moving the chest and hips up and down. Legs perform a dolphin-like motion, staying together and straight. Arms move in a symmetrical order in an hourglass pattern underwater, from extended forward to beneath the chest and hips. Breathing occurs during arm recovery when the head and chest are lifted above the water. This stroke is challenging to master due to its demanding movements.

Muscles involved: core abdominal and lower back muscles for body lift during breathing, glutes for leg movement, and pecs, lats, quads, hamstrings, calves, shoulders, biceps, and triceps for propulsion.


Backstroke is unique among competitive strokes as it is performed on the back, with the head in a neutral position facing up. It resembles the front crawl, but the swimmer’s back faces downward. Legs execute flutter kicks, while arms pull water beneath the back to move the body backward. Breathing is free from movement constraints as the head remains above water.

Muscles involved: shoulder muscles for arm movements, lower leg muscles for kicking, and rotator cuff muscles, especially the subscapularis and teres minor.


Sidestroke is one of the oldest It involves sideways body positioning, asymmetrical underwater arm movements, and a scissor kick. While the lower leg pushes with its front, the upper leg uses its back to push against the water. The lower arm moves underwater from an extended position to the chest, while the upper arm bends at the elbow and recovers towards the chest. Breathing is straightforward as the head remains above water.

Muscles involved: muscles on one side of the body.

Benefits of Swimming:

Swimming offers numerous health benefits, including improved endurance, muscle strength, and cardiovascular fitness. It helps keep the heart healthy, enhances lung capacity, and tones various muscle groups without straining the joints.

Common Questions About Swimming:

What is swimming?

Swimming is an individual or team sport that involves moving the entire body through water for recreation, sport, exercise, or survival.

What are the benefits of breaststroke swimming?

Breaststroke is an excellent cardiovascular exercise that strengthens the heart, lungs, thighs, upper back, triceps, hamstrings, and lower legs, while toning the chest muscles.

What is the proper breaststroke technique?

Keep the knees slightly wider than hip-width, pointing down and slightly behind the hip line. Perform frog-like kicks and simultaneous hand movements to glide through the water.

What are the 5 common types of swimming?

Freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, and sidestroke are the five primary swimming strokes.