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
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!”