What are the Four Different Types of Swimming Techniques at the Olympics?

Published 06/23/2021, 8:55 AM EDT
Jun 19, 2021; Omaha, Nebraska, USA; Nathan Adrian prepares to swim in Men’s 50m Freestyle prelims during the U.S. Olympic Team Trials Swimming competition at CHI Health Center Omaha. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Swimming is one of the most popular Olympic sports. It has been a part of every modern Olympics and is not expected to lose its reputation any time soon. Swimming is an art where the athletes have to coordinate all their major body parts – arms, legs, torso, hands, feet, and legs. There are also four different swimming techniques that swimmers will practice at Tokyo Olympics 2021 — what are they? 


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Before we dive in, it must be noted that swimming is not confined to these four styles alone. In fact, there are a lot of different techniques that one can learn besides these. This article is just to make readers aware of the four different swimming techniques that will be implemented at Tokyo Olympics 2021. 

Olympics: Different techniques in swimming


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Front Crawl/Freestyle

The front crawl is regarded as the most explosive and the fastest swimming routine. It is deemed that way due to the body position in which the swimmers aim to finish their races. 

Although the front crawl is not regulated by FINA, this stroke is used by all the swimmers during freestyle races, hence the name. It involves a long-axis stroke where the swimmer will be face down and extending his/her arms in a forward motion completely. 

The alternating arm along with kicking of the legs creates rapid movement in water which allows a seamless transition. It is important to keep your legs close together while kicking and your hands completely stretched out. 

Pressing your hands into the water with force gets you forward, and breathing during side shifts is an integral part of this position. A lot of practice is required to master this stroke, but once done it creates wonders! 


The backstroke is the second position where you completely give a free rotation to your arms. Swimmers perform the front crawl while lying flat on their stomachs, and the backstroke is the exact opposite. 

Since the swimmer will be lying on the back, strong and vigorous kicks are required to keep the motion going. Moreover, ankle strength plays an important part in backstroke. Lie on your back, flutter your legs, and rotate your arms in a windmill motion: this is the backstroke. 

This is a more difficult stroke than the front crawl, but the backstroke also helps in easing problems in the spine. 


The butterfly is the most common competitive stroke. It involves synchronized movement of the hands along with a dolphin kick of the legs. This stroke is very pleasing to watch but incredibly tough to learn. 

A swimmer can generate massive speed during the butterfly, but due to the nature of the stroke, the timing drops during the recovery period of the arms and legs. The butterfly originated out of the backstroke and here’s out it works: 

You position your hands above your head and then keep your palms open. Next, push both palms back through the water, along the sides of your body, and past the hips

The final movement in the butterfly is coming back from the recovery position. In every movement, the hands will reach the thighs and after which the swimmer should start over again. 


The breaststroke technique involves swimmers facing stomach first on the water and extending their arms in a semi-circular motion. The breaststroke does not involve torso movement, as you simply have to bend your legs and kick back with power and good timing. 


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Breaststroke is a wonderful body exercise, both for the arms and the legs. While moving through the water with your arms, ensure that the elbows are straight and the palms are facing outward. 

To move forward, pull your elbows to the side and bring your hands in front of the chest to complete a movement. This will happen along with the leg movement, and you will be bringing up your head, neck, and chest with every forward movement. That’s when you should ideally breathe. 


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Arjun Athreya

2029 articles

Arjun Athreya is a senior writer at Essentially Sports and has been contributing since early 2020. Having developed an avid interest in sports at an early age, he pursued a Journalism degree and graduated from Madras Christian College. Arjun manages the Golf division and its content, and primarily covers news pertaining to the NBA as well.



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