HomeSportsLearn 5 types of Swimming Styles & their Benefits – KreedOn Guide

Learn 5 types of Swimming Styles & their Benefits – KreedOn Guide

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Swimming is an individual sport in which one requires to move the entire body inside (through) water. Sounds pretty easy, doesn’t it? However, in reality, a lot of effort goes into countering the drag that water produces due to its viscosity. Although a person would feel lighter inside water, the drag will never let your muscles relax while moving. This helps in exercising the muscles without putting a load on bone joints. There are 5 types of swimming styles in which you can swim. Let us discuss each type’s technique, benefits, muscles involved, etc in detail.

5 Different Types of Swimming Styles

S.NTypes of swimmingMuscles Used
1Front Crawl/FreestyleCore and abdominal muscles, Forearms muscles, glutes and hamstring, shoulder muscles.
2BreaststrokePectoral and Latissimus Dorsi muscles, Glutes and Quadriceps.
3Butterfly Strokecore abdominal and lower back muscles, Glutes, Pecs, lasts, quads, hamstrings, calves, shoulders, biceps, and triceps.
4Backstrokeshoulder muscles, lower leg muscles, muscles of the rotator cuff.
5SidestrokeMuscles on the one side of the body.

Front Crawl: Types of swimming

Front Crawl KreedOn
Types of Swiming: Front Crawl (Credits Arena)

This stroke is also known as ‘Freestyle’. It gives maximum speed with minimum effort. Freestyle swimming includes a Prone horizontal (face down) position. Flutter kicks and alternate arm move movements help create the thrust needed to push the body.

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Legs move alternately with quick and compact kicks in the water keeping the feet pointed.

Arms are used to pull the water back alternately. While one arm pulls the water from an extended forward position towards the hip, the other recovers outside water from the hip to the extended forward position.

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Breathing is done sideways when an arm is brought out of the water for recovery. The Head comes out of the water sideways with the shoulder as the air inhalation happens quickly. Air is exhaled inside the water itself to ensure enough intake in the fractional time of inhalation.

Front Crawl is the fastest and most efficient stroke in swimming because:

  1. Drag is minimum during the arm recovery because of the pointed hands.
  2. There’s always one arm pulling the water.

Muscles used in front crawl are:

  1. Core and abdominal muscles in keeping the body streamlined and lifting it while breathing.
  2. Forearm muscles are used in pulling the water back.
  3. There is the utilization of the glutes and hamstring for the propulsion through the legs and to maintain a balanced position.
  4. Hand’s entry underwater and reaching out also requires the involvement of shoulder muscles.

Breaststroke: Types of swimming

Types of Swiming KreedOn
Types of Swiming: Breaststroke (Credits Arena)

This type of swimming stroke also occurs in a prone position. In breaststroke, the body is forced into an inclined position from a horizontal position to do the movement. Frog-like kicks and simultaneous hand movement inside the water helps the body glide through the water.

Legs are bent and kicked out inside the water to propel the body forward. This frog-like movement (symmetrical whip kick) happens underwater.

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Arm movements are symmetrical and simultaneous. An arc is made by the hands from an extended forward position to below the chest. But unlike the freestyle stroke, hands move in a straight line during the recovery phase.

Breathing is done at the end of propulsion when the hands are beneath the chest and the head is above the water surface.

Breaststroke is the slowest one among all the 5 types of swimming strokes. Generally, beginners are taught this technique first since the head is above the water for most of the time.

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Muscles used in Breaststroke are:

  1. To move the arms inward against the water, the Pectoral and Latissimus Dorsi muscles are used.
  2. Glutes and Quadriceps are used to kick the legs inside the water.

Butterfly Stroke: Types of Swimming

types of swimming KreedOn
Types of Swiming: Butterfly stroke (Credits Arena)

The butterfly stroke involves a prone position. It is quite exhausting and strenuous relative to other types of swimming strokes. In this stroke, the body executes wave-like movements, moving the chest and hip up and down the water surface.

Legs undergo dolphin-like motion which means both the legs stay together and straight as you kick them in the water.

Arms movements are symmetrical again tracing an hourglass motion underwater. They start from an extended forward position beneath the chest toward the hips.

Breathing occurs while recovering when both the head and chest are lifted above the water.

The butterfly stroke is one of the most difficult strokes to master. The undulations, dolphin kicks, and arm movements are all not so easy to learn. It is very tiring and therefore not usually used for recreational or fitness swimmers.

Muscles used in the Butterfly stroke are:

  1. There is high utilization of the core abdominal and lower back muscles which lift the body out of the water when breathing.
  2. Glutes are used in leg movement like a dolphin.
  3. Pecs lasts, quads, hamstrings, calves, shoulders, biceps, and triceps are all needed extensively in this powerful stroke.


Types of Swiming: KreedOn
Types of Swiming: Backstroke (Credits Arena)

Backstroke is the only type of competitive stroke on the back. The head is in a neutral position facing up. It is very similar to the Front Crawl type except for one major difference: the back faces down.

READ | How to Improve your Backstroke Swimming | Tips & Tricks

Legs do flutter kicks with quick and compact movements.

Arms are used to pull the water beneath the back such that the body moves backward. Competitively, backstroke is third fastest behind Butterfly and Front Crawl.

Breathing is free from movements in this type of swimming stroke as the head never goes inside the water.

Muscles used in the backstroke are:

The shoulder muscles have to dominate more in this move than they do in other strokes. The muscles in the lower leg also play a critical role in the backstroke. There is extensive use of small muscles of the rotator cuff, especially the subscapularis and the teres minor. Doctors advise patients with back pain or problems to try this swimming stroke as it will help in relaxing the muscles and straightening them.


types of swimming KreedOn
Credits Make a GIF

One of the oldest types of swimming stroke that can be used to rescue someone who is drowning. It requires only one arm with asymmetrical underwater arm movements and a scissor kick. The body is in a sideward position during the whole stroke. The head is above the water all the time.

Legs do the scissor kicks with the upper leg pushing against the water with the back of the leg, while the lower leg pushes with the front of the leg.

Arms movement is asymmetrical and random. The lower arm moves underwater from an extended forward position to the chest and the upper arm, which was resting on the side, bends at the elbow and recovers toward the chest.

Breathing is free of movements again as the head is above water throughout the stroke.

READ | How to improve your freestyle swimming | Tips & Tricks

Muscles used in the sidestroke are:

Muscles on one side of the body undergo more exercise than the other at a time. So, physically challenged individuals use it to perform swimming.


There are various health benefits of swimming as it helps to build endurance, muscle strength, and cardiovascular fitness. It keeps your heart healthy and builds the capacity of the lungs

Swimming is an individual or team sport that requires the entire body to move through the water. It is the self-propulsion of a person through water for recreation, sport, exercise, or survival. 

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Raghav Heda
Raghav Heda
Raghav is a sports enthusiast and a content writer at Kreedon. Being a former state-level cricketer and Captain of the Basketball team at IIT Patna, he understands the problems faced by a student-athlete in India. He is also a die-hard NBA fan and has been following the league and American Sports Media for long. Comparing the Indian sports economy to American Sports' was something that motivated him to work for the development of Indian Sports.



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