Different types of strokes in swimming

Swimming has four main types: Butterfly, back, chest, and freestyle. There are many differences and commonalities within the strokes. Learn more about different kinds of strokes in swimming.


It can just as quickly start with the first invented stroke.

Unique features

  • Usually swims by “non-swimmers” by pools as there are greater chances of breathing when you lift your head above the water.
  • You rise highest from the water (the whole upper body)
  • Keeping a tight line is crucial
  • No repeated dolphins kick off the walls, instead of being replaced by a pull-out
  • Kick is what gives the propulsion rather than the pull.


  • Considered the hardest hit solely because of the timing, which is challenging to master
  • Quite unnatural movement causes knee problems, with some swimmers having to take time out of the pool as a result.
  • Unable to kick with regular fins on


Especially respected for their toughness, flyers develop an iron heart.

Unique features

  • Take up a full lane width with your arms outstretched
  • One-arm strokes are expected when someone comes down the lane past you but is not so common now due to covid-19, which obliges the teams to switch to one-way lanes
  • Everyone will probably think of Michael Phelps if you say you’re swimming butterfly


  • Hate best-kind set
  • Lots of fatigue to the shoulder muscles, forcing the arms forward over the water too many times


The only blow that has not swum on the stomach.

  • Unique features
  • Constant air supply
  • Ironically, hyperventilators in meetings because you do not have a specific breathing pattern.


  • Exercise outdoors when sunshine causes the sun’s sharp rays to dazzle your eyes, making it almost impossible to swim straight
  • 200 backstroke swimmers really know how despair feels as the race nears its end

Similarities with the other strokes

  • Freestyle – Same turn, but a flag count to decide when to turn your stomach and turn
  • Freestyle – More body rotation than chest and butterfly

Sprint Freestyle

Unique features

  • Detail-oriented since every little mistake wastes valuable time
  • Prioritizes kicks over pulling, freestyle at opposite distance


  • Fatigue faster due to a faster buildup of lactic acid
  • Go out too fast sometimes at more extended events

Similarities with the other strokes

  • Butterfly – May not breathe after a few strokes.
  • Back – Pull the person’s feet in front to mess with them or signal that they want to drive past.

Distance Freestyle

Swimmers who enjoy these races deserve their separate category from the sprinters.

Unique features

  • Freestyle is the only type that has races longer than 200, namely 400, 500, 800, 1000, 1500 and 1650
  • The breathing pattern varies significantly, although a swaying stroke has apparently taken over, especially breathing every other stroke.
  • Thrives under pullsets
  • Splitter is accurately memorized.
  • There is no chance of reacting early after the beep.


  • Less talkative with teammates
  • Challenging to keep the focus on long swims

All strokes

We all also need to do exercises and sets to maintain and improve our stroke because retaining the feel of the water is crucial to growing as a swimmer. Exercising one will help your other strokes as they all share some essential components. Swimming some of them ideally requires a tight core and high posture to stay stiff and loose. Swimming “forward, not up” is also divided between the strokes so that your effort moves you closer to the goal, not straight up, and eventually sinks you.

Related articles:

How to get faster in swimming

Swimming fat burning workout


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