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No Bull: Sports Lingo Explained

Swimming Styles

Victor E. Bull

Breaststroke: The most common stroke is the breaststroke, in which a swimmer’s body and arms remain parallel to the floor of the pool. To begin, the arms are pushed straight in front of the swimmer, circle to the outside of the body and then round their way back to where they started. While this occurs, a frog kick powers the stroke by moving the feet in a circular manner.

Butterfly: With the butterfly stroke—commonly referred to as the fly—the swimmer’s arms exit the water, moving simultaneously in a circular position perpendicular to the pool floor, slapping onto and into the water with each rotation. The swimmer uses a flutter kick, which entails moving the feet up and down quickly, while performing the arm motions.

Freestyle: The freestyle is similar to the butterfly. However, unlike the simultaneous use of the arms in the fly, the swimmer’s arms alternate, while creating the same perpendicular circular motions. The feet remain in an alternating flutter kick, just like the fly.

Backstroke: The fourth stroke is the backstroke, accomplished by performing the same motions as the freestyle but while on one’s back. The fifth event—the individual medley—is a composite of the four strokes described above. The swimmer performs the butterfly, followed by the backstroke, then the breaststroke and finishes up with the freestyle.