10 Types Of Swimming Strokes and Their Benefits

Worldwide, swimming is a very popular activity. Swimming is the fourth most favored sports activity in the United States and an excellent way to get regular aerobic physical exercise.

And swimmers have about half the risk of death than inactive people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Depending on the types of swimming strokes, swimming can help you develop cardiovascular fitness, strengthen muscle tone, burn many calories, and lose weight.

For competitions, especially, you cannot win if you do not know the basics of swimming. This is what is going to make you professional and give you an edge in the competition. Also, if you are using swimming as an exercise to say active and healthy, lose weight, or increase endurance, you can use this article to take your swimming game to the next level.

This quick guide will explore all the different types of swimming strokes, their benefits, and tips on properly performing them. You might also enjoy reading: Is Swimming Really Difficult To Learn? (Let’s find out!)

Different Types of Swimming Strokes And Their Benefits
Different Types of Swimming Strokes And Their Benefits – altinify.com

Table of Contents

Different Types of Swimming Strokes And Their Benefits

You should know that knowing these strokes can also help you save someone’s life. On beaches, lifeguards have experience with all the important strokes that helps in swimming and increase your speed. So, the knowledge of the types and their benefits will help you more than just to win a competition. 

1- Front Crawl

Front crawl (Freestyle swimming) is the most efficient and fastest swimming form. With this type of swimming stroke, you swim with your body straight and move forward in the water.

In addition, front crawl is the most common style of swimming because most beginners and amateurs train first in freestyle and then move on to other techniques.

With a front crawl, your stomach and face are towards the water while your arms and legs help in motion. The torso at this position is stable, and that is what makes it a perfect choice. In this position, the legs face a lot of difficulties, so you use the flutter kicks, which are done in a tight scissor-like action. You have to move at the same pace and stop when you reach your position. 

Difficulty Level: Easy

Benefits of Freestyle:

With this freestyle type, you can easily burn 180 to 252 calories with just a half-hour of swimming, depending on your weight and the intensity of your swimming, according to Harvard Health Publishing.

It also builds up your leg and arm muscles, providing you with the ultimate strength. Some swimmers especially try long-distance strokes, and they can get amazing results. 

Tips for learning the Front Crawl stroke:

  • Flow on your front with your face in the water, pushing your body as long as possible.
  • Maintain your legs along with your toes pointed. 
  • Kick your legs up and down (alternating), make your ankles as floppy as possible, and use your feet like flippers. Keep kicking your legs fast and continually.
  • Begin with your arms extended out long in front of your head. Bring your arm out of the water and sweep it over the water.
  • Rotate your head to the side to inhale. Turn as you stretch your arm in front of your thigh. 
  • Try to maintain one ear in the water as you bend your head. While your arm sweeps over the water, return your face to the water and exhale.

See also: Swimming Vs. Rowing: Which One Should You Choose?

10 Types Of Swimming Strokes and Their Benefits – altinify.com

2- Backstroke

Backstroke (also referred to as back crawl) is the opposite of front crawl (freestyle). It is quite an amazing and difficult type of swimming stroke, especially if you are a beginner.

You have to keep the face and abdomen in an upward position. It means your back is on the water, and your arms and legs are doing the movement. It is more difficult because you have to keep your back straight for a stable motion in the water.

Now, if you do not have the strength and cannot make the right angle, you might not be able to keep your legs or hips in the exact position. So, you can practice it again and again with a short distance at the start to make up your pace. 

Difficulty Level: Medium

Benefits of Backstroke:

It helps to improve your posture majorly because you have to keep your back straight in the water. Experts believe backstroke plays a role in improving body posture.

It requires a lot of practice, but you will see results gradually. Moreover, it also helps to burn calories and improve the flexibility of your body

Tips for learning the Backstroke Stroke:

  • Swim on your back, with your ears just in the water and eyes looking up; keep your body stretched as long as possible.
  • Hold 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. 
  • Maintain your knees under the water with your toes, which will make a small splash. 
  • Kick your legs fast and continually.
  • Begin with your arms extended down the side of your body. In an arc action, your arm should be kept straight, bringing it out of the water over the top. 
  • Keep pulling your arms in a constant movement as one arm enters; the other is ready to exit at the thigh.
  • Ensure you breathe when required and at least while performing the stroke.
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3- Breaststroke

Breaststroke is the slowest type of swimming stroke. If you want to do some easy and fun swimming, try breaststroke. 

It is an easy method, especially for beginners, that does not require much effort. Moreover, some people also use it as an alternative to freestyle.

You have to be in the same position as the freestyle, but your arms and legs will do different movements. Your arms will be moving in the rhythm to go forward, but your legs will be pushing you with the whip kick. It helps you to reach your goals much faster as well

Difficulty Level: Easy

Benefits of Breaststroke:

You can burn 360 to 504 calories in just an hour of practicing this swimming stroke, depending on the intensity of your swimming and your weight.

Some people do not like to keep their face in the water all the time, so you can use this technique as you can perform with your face above water as well. 

Fitness experts suggest breaststroke for cardiovascular exercise because it helps strengthen your heart and improves blood circulation

Talking about a cardiovascular workout, I recommend you to check this article on yoga vs. cardio, including the benefits of each, for more information about cardio.

Tips for learning Breaststroke Stroke:

  • Swim on your front with your face in the water, extending your body as long as possible. Keep both your hands together.
  • Hold your legs extended and stretch your toes. Turn your knees gradually and bring your feet towards your posterior. 
  • Turn at the ankles to point your feet outwards, kick back and little downwards, and burst your feet together.
  • Hold your head in the water and extend your arms out in front. Bend your hands so that your thumbs point down with both hands pressing out and round.
  • Raise your head to inhale as you bring your arms together, stretch your arms out, and return your head to the water to exhale. 
  • Remember to breathe every stroke by pulling, breathing, kicking, and gliding. 
10 Types Of Swimming Strokes and Their Benefits – altinify.com

4- Sidestroke

Just like the name suggests, it is the same style of backstroke, but in this, you will be moving in the water by being on one side. In this, you can keep your face above the water so there is no issue with your breathing. You will be moving both your arms in the sidestroke. 

Swimmers generally use the Sidestroke technique to relax after over an hour of swimming. Usually performed for long-distance swimming, you complete the sidestroke by lying on one side while motioning with asymmetric arms and legs.

Even better, the sidestroke is also cautiously used as a life-saving method. Swimming experts promote the sidestroke technique because it provides much-needed flexibility.

See also: Will Swimming Make You Really Taller? (Find out now!)

Difficulty Level: Medium

Benefits of Sidestroke:

Done vigorously, it also helps you to burn 300 to 420 calories in just half an hour. You will be seeing this stroke performed by the lifeguards mostly.

Moreover, it helps you to increase overall energy as it is a core workout targeting your all body parts. 

Tips For Learning The Butterfly Stroke:

  • Start with your body lying on one side and your legs stretched out.
  • Keep your upper arms resting flat on the side of the body.
  • Hold your head straight to your spine while half your face is underwater.
  • Bend your lower arm at the elbow and push back against the water.
  • Then extend your lower arm back to the front while the upper arm presses against the water.
  • Using a scissors kick, bend your upper leg and bring your knee towards the chest along with the foot.
  • Then, turn the lower leg, and move your foot towards the rear end.
  • During sidestroke, maintaining flexible coordination between arms and legs is essential.
10 Types Of Swimming Strokes and Their Benefits – altinify.com

5- Combat Side Stroke

Combat Side Stroke or combat swimmer stroke (also known as CSS) is a variation of the sidestroke, freestyle, and breaststroke, all combined together, developed by and taught to the United States Navy SEALs.

Difficulty Level: Hard

Benefits of The Combat Side Stroke:

  • Combat Side Stroke is highly efficient and relaxing.
  • Combat Swimmer Stroke is excellent for toning your body as a combination of freestyle, sidestroke, and breaststroke.
  • The United States Navy SEALs learn the combat swimmer stroke technique to carry heavy equipment underwater.

Tips For Learning The Combat Side Stroke:

  • Balance is fundamental. Two factors affect your balance in the water: your head and lungs. 
  • To swim effectively and stay balanced, keep your body flat and parallel to the water line.
  •  Remain fully stretched horizontally in the water to reduce your body’s drag and swim faster.
  • Rotate from the hips. If you keep your hips engaged and use your body’s core muscles, it will increase power.
10 Types Of Swimming Strokes and Their Benefits – altinify.com

6- Butterfly Stroke

Among all types of swimming strokes, Butterfly stroke is the newest one, as it originated in 1933 as an offshoot of breaststroke. Compared to Freestyle, Butterfly stroke is faster during the peak stage due to the synchronous pull and push of both arms and legs.

However, the stroke loses pace during the recovery stage. Therefore, butterfly stroke becomes a slower swimming style overall. Experts believe that the most challenging stroke in swimming is also the best one for building muscles and toning the body.

It is a challenging yet famous stroke that can be difficult even for the experts. It requires practice and dedication to be the master in the water.

Do not worry if it takes time for you to learn this stroke style. You have to sweep your hands while your legs will be performing the dolphin kick. 

Difficulty Level: Hard

Benefits of Butterfly Stroke:

The best part is that it burns around 300 to 420 calories in half an hour, depending on your body weight. It means that it is a great workout compared to the other ones.

And, if you can learn to perform this, then there should be no worry for you to learn the other strokes in our recommended this. 

Tips For Learning The Butterfly Stroke:

  • Swim on your front with your face in the water and lengthen your body as long as possible.
  • Undulate your entire body from head to toe in a whipping movement, turning and straightening your knees. 
  • Keep your legs and feet close together while pushing down on the water with the top of your feet.
  • Push your chin forward to breathe towards the end of the pull.
  • Complete two kicks to each arm cycle, kicking at the arm pull’s beginning and towards the pull’s end. 
10 Types Of Swimming Strokes and Their Benefits – altinify.com

7- Trudgen

Trudgen, also famously known as the racing stroke, is a swimming technique named after English swimmer John Trudgen. On August 11, 1873, the first time Trudgen used this stroke (later named after him), he became the speediest sprinter of his time, according to San Diego State University

The swimming technique evolved to influence both the development of the sidestroke and front crawl, one of the most popular swimming strokes.

Difficulty Level: Medium

Trudgen Stroke Benefits:

Trudgen’s stroke is known to be successful for short races. So next time you want to increase your speed and win a fast race, try Trudgen’s stroke. 

The trudgen swimming stroke is a blend of overarm strokes and scissor kicks. The trudgen swimming stroke can be a decisive stroke to learn and an excellent full-body workout as a helpful hybrid of more familiar swimming techniques.

Tips For Learning The Trudgen Stroke:

  • Move your body under the water surface from the abdomen to the side.
  • Bring your body up with the arm stroke only for breathing
  • Keep your arm limbs under the water and position your elbows towards the surface.
  • Keep your arms stretched forward while your palms are facing downward.
  • Use your arms to alternately loop water to the back to move forward.
  • With your legs, you perform scissors and dolphin kicks in succession when your hands move to the front.
  • Keep your feet together on a horizontal plane. 
  • When the arm strokes begin again, a dolphin kick happens with the feet together.
10 Types Of Swimming Strokes and Their Benefits – altinify.com

8- Corkscrew Swimming

Corkscrew swimming combines two swimming strokes, freestyle and backstroke. Like the motion of a corkscrew, you take three strokes freestyle, then three strokes on the back, which requires you to rotate from your front to your back every three strokes.

Difficulty Level: Medium

See also: Will Swimming Give You Bigger Abs? (Let’s find out here!)

Benefits of Corkscrew Swimming:

  • Corkscrew swimming can make you a better swimmer
  • Corkscrew swimming helps significantly improve your speed, accuracy, and navigation when swimming around a buoy, helping you gain an advantage over other swimmers, particularly during competitions. 

Tips For Learning The Corkscrew Swimming:

  • Corkscrew swimming also constantly uses a flutter kick, which requires proper balance. 
  • You can start swimming either on your back or on your stomach.
  • Keep your arms stretched out first if you start swimming on the stomach.
  • After three arm strokes on the front, move your body to its back.
  • Then, do backstroke arm movement three consecutive times.
10 Types Of Swimming Strokes and Their Benefits – altinify.com

9- Snorkeling

Snorkeling is a type of swimming generally practiced as a recreational activity. It is a popular recreational activity, specifically at tropical resort locations.

Snorkeling is mostly floating along the surface of the water and enjoying the underwater world equipped with snorkeling equipment, including. 

  • A mask (or goggles)
  • A snorkel (a shaped breathing tube)
  • And usually swimfins (or flippers). 

Difficulty Level: Easy

Benefits of Snorkelling:

  • Snorkeling is also a fantastic opportunity to take epic underwater shots of marine life if you like taking pictures.
  • Snorkeling is a great and fun way to explore the beauty of the underwater world
  • Excellent family activity and a great way to stay healthy and fit

Tips For Learning The Trudgen Stroke:

  • While swimming, keep your body straight horizontally and your head under the water.
  • Like freestyle stroke, use a flutter kick to stretch out your feet for fast movements.
  • While performing the flutter kick, evenly keep one leg up and the other down.
10 Types Of Swimming Strokes and Their Benefits – altinify.com

10- Fins Swimming

Finswimming is a type of swimming that consists of four techniques using fins: 

  • Use a snorkel with either monofins or biffins on the water’s surface. 
  • Underwater with monofin either by holding your breath or using open-circuit scuba diving equipment. 

Difficulty Level: Medium

Benefits of Fins Swimming:

Swimming with fins helps improve body position by adding velocity to the stroke and teaching your body to swim faster on top of the water.

 In addition, to making you swim faster, Swimming with fins can also relieve stress on shoulder joints, according to the United States Masters Swimming (USMS)

Swimming with fins helps build muscle while improving your up-kick, ankle flexibility, total body conditioning, and positioning

Tips For Learning The Fins Swimming Technique:

  • Finswimming is all about leg work and requires a streamlined body.
  • Keep your head facing downwards and move your body from side to side to breathe appropriately.
  • Use your arms like you do when performing the freestyle stroke
  • Alternately flap tight-fit fins in water to push your body forward.
  • Constant and smooth leg movements help you complete the finswimming technique. 
10 Types Of Swimming Strokes and Their Benefits – altinify.com

What is The Best Stroke To Swim In?

The top best stroke to swim in the freestyle. Moreover, the other ones are butterfly, backstroke, sidestroke, and breaststroke. Every one of them provides you with a great workout and ensures you lose your calories. 

Which Swim Stroke Is Best For Toning?

Out of all swimming strokes, freestyle has the most significant impact on toning back muscles. Freestyle is one of the best strokes that tones your body and includes the stomach, legs, arms, and hips. 

Does Swimming Reduce Belly Fat?

Swimming is one of the best workouts that help you lose a lot of calories. Depending on your body weight, you can easily get rid of 600 to 840 calories in half an hour with just a simple workout with vigorous swimming laps, according to Harvard Health Publishing.

People who have the hobby of swimming can enjoy being smart and healthy. 

What Type of Swimming is Best For Losing Weight?

Even though the butterfly stroke is considered the most effective stroke for losing weight and toning your muscles.

All types of swimming are perfect for weight loss. But the most recommended ones are butterfly, freestyle, breaststroke, and backstroke. 

Wrapping Up

Swimming is an excellent way to keep yourself in shape, mainly if you are not a gym fan or can’t partake in certain physical activities due to joint pain.

In addition, swimming is an excellent workout for losing weight, strengthening your heart, and increasing muscle tone.

Use any of the eight types of swimming strokes to keep yourself active and meet your fitness goals.


Hello friends, I am Altiné I am SO excited you are here! I believe in YOUR POWER to transform the world through a healthy lifestyle and diet, and that physical activity and diet are EVERYTHING when it comes to your health and well-being. My goal is to offer you a simple and science-based approach to building muscle, losing fat, getting happy and healthy, and living a meaningful and impactful life for you and your loved ones. So YOU can look better, feel better, live better, and go make more impact. Let’s do it.

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Worldwide, swimming is a very popular activity. Depending on the types of swimming strokes, swimming promotes cardio, strengthens muscle tone, and lose weight.