Swimming is a sport everyone can enjoy – boys, girls, adults and even babies. It’s also one of the best ways to exercise ever! Swimming helps build the muscles in your upper back, shoulders, arms and chest. It also stretches your muscles and helps improve posture. There are so many benefits to swimming that lots of athletes like runners, cyclists and skaters use it for cross-training.

There are four competitive swimming events – the free style, backstroke, breaststroke and the butterfly. The most important thing to remember about mastering any or all of these strokes is technique, technique, technique! A good technique means knowing how to stroke efficiently so that you’re not wasting energy. The result? That energy you save may provide you with the extra speed you need to improve your overall time or win the race.

“Fun Fact: At the first modern Olympic Games held in Athens in 1896, swimmers boarded a boat that took them out to the frigid waters of the Saronic Gulf where they dove into the sea and raced to the finish line on shore.”


FREESTYLE In this event, the competitor may use any stroke he or she wishes. The front crawl, the fastest of the strokes, is usually chosen. Alternating overarm strokes and the flutter kick are used, and the head remains in the water with the face alternating from side to side to breathe.

“Fun Fact: Did you know that Hollywood’s original Tarzan, Johnny Weissmuller, was the first person to break the one-minute mark in the 100-metre freestyle?”

BACKSTROKE In the backstroke event, the swimmer must stay on his or her back at all times except for when the swimmer comes to the wall to do the flip turn. The arms do most of the movement in this stroke. It is important that this movement is as continuous as possible. Just like the freestyle, the backstroke is a continuous stroke.

BREASTSTROKE The arms work together with the breaststroke, rather than alternately as they do in freestyle. One of the first strokes that is taught, the breaststroke is the slowest of all competitive strokes.

BUTTERFLY The butterfly is the most difficult and exhausting stroke in swimming and one of the hardest to master. In the butterfly, the position is the same as the breaststroke, but requires the swimmer to execute a dolphin-like kick, while making a windmill-like movement with the arms.

In addition to the four competitive swimming events mentioned, there’s also an individual medley in which the swimmer uses all four strokes beginning with the butterfly. In the medley relay, there are four swimmers and each one uses a different stroke beginning with the backstroke.

“Fun Fact: The first men’s bathing suit weighed 4 kg (9 lbs.) fully soaked and was so heavy, it had a tendency to fall down!”