Know your swimming strokes!

2014April10_Swimming_ASwimming is a really effective exercise that gives you a total body workout that burns up to 500 calories per hour. The density of water also makes swimming an ideal exercise for strengthening core muscles. Aside from these plus points, swimming also jump starts the metabolism so you burn calories even when you’re out of the pool. Swimming is the ideal exercise no matter what age you are as while the water adds resistance it is a low impact way of keeping fit that is gentle to the joints. But before you take the plunge do you know your swimming strokes?

Taking up swimming as an exercise has many advantages including:

  • Suitable for all ages.

  • Suitable for all weathers.

  • No or low cost.

  • Fun and versatile.

When it comes to swimming, most people decide to swim laps using one of four strokes.

  1. Freestyle,

  2. Backstroke,

  3. Breaststroke and

  4. Butterfly.


Freestyle or, front crawl as some people prefer to call it, was developed by Richard Cavill, an Australian who first combined the over-arm movement with an up and down kicking motion. Freestyle is the fastest of the four primary strokes and is probably the most popular swimming event whenever there is an Olympic competition. This stroke is performed by flutter kicking (alternately kicking up and down) your feet while reaching forward with alternating arms, taking breaths to the side. Repeat these motions and you will soon find yourself swimming one length of the pool.


This is a lot easier than freestyle as your face it out of the water. Start by looking straight up, floating on your back. Raise both arms over your head to form a Y. Reach back with each arm at a 45 degree angle and pull your arm back towards your body. Alternate this motion with both arms while flutter kicking your legs. Slicing the water at 45 degrees will make your stroke stronger.


If you want to improve posture, this stroke is for you because it works your back and hips. This stroke is performed front side down in the water. Arms should be extended straight forward and the legs straight and together at the back. Start with the palms together, turn them and then separate pulling them out and then in towards the body until they are level with your chin. Bend your knees and bring your heels towards your body before kicking out to the side under the water. As you gain momentum you can either keep your head out of the water or dip your face in as you look forward, to get that extra speed.


The butterfly stroke can be a little complicated and requires stamina and good technique. Keep shoulders in line with the water and extend arms forward with legs straight. Form a Y with both arms and then bring the arms towards the body while simultaneously raising your body out of the water while performing the dolphin kick (both legs moving up and down together).

The key to making swimming a good exercise routine is to break down your swim time into short sessions. Mix up strokes and rest between intervals as this will keep you from getting bored. Varying strokes will also balance muscle use because some strokes, like the breast stroke, utilize the thigh and back muscles more than freestyle.

Swimming as a form of interval training is fun, challenging and scorches calories while giving your body a cardio workout. For example, do a set of four length laps. Make each lap faster than the previous one and for the last distance ‘sprint’ towards the finish. Rest for one minute and then repeat. You can then change to another stroke if you want to.

Swimming is a fun and cool way to lose extra weight and keep it off. Aside from being an effective workout, swimming is relaxing for the body and the mind as you really let the rest of your life demands float away. If you are looking to start swimming, contact us today to see how our programs can help.

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