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Swimming Basics: Stroke Tutorials


1. Start with a strong dive into a streamline as you enter the water with a dophin kick (feet together like a flipper). The key to swimming butterfly is having a strong dolphin kick.

2. Move your entire body in a wave-like motion, making sure that your legs move together when dolphin-kicking.

3. The second motion of the stroke is the pull: start with both hands above your head and pull down to your hips, catching as much water as you can.

4. Then bring your arms out of the water and back up to your head. Remember to keep your arms fairly straight and in sync.

5. When you combine the two motions, you should kick downwards as you begin to bring your arms back out of the water. For a more flowing stroke, bring your butt out of the water in this step.

6. The butterfly is a very physically challenging stroke. A strong core and strong arms are essential in order to get your body out of the water.


1. Begin by facing the wall of the pool in the water. Hold the bar of the starting block, situated directly above the waterline, and press the feet firmly against the wall to ensure a stable start.

2. Begin the race by pushing off the wall with force. The start of the race should be underwater, with hands in a streamline position, where the arms should be fully extended, straight on either side of the head, with one hand over the other. Perform three to five dolphin kicks, with both feet together, to help maintain the momentum from the start, and then switch to flutter kicks, where one foot kicks upward at a time.

3. Transition from a streamline to backstroke by breaking one arm at a time from the streamline position, using a flutter kick, where one leg kicks upward at a time. The kick should be rapid, involving relatively little movement, which allows a swimmer to be more efficient. First reach back with an arm through the air, and then bring the same arm toward the feet through the water. One arm should exit the water as the other arm enters the water.

Anna Lang ’19 said, “For [the 100-Yard Backstroke], I make sure to do long [underwater kicks], so I try to get in as many dolphin kicks as possible before I hit the surface, and I try to do negative splits, so that’s the idea that you do your second 50 faster than your first one. Just try to have fast flip turns and good [underwater performance], and also a fast stroke rate, so you try to do as many arm rotations as possible.”


1. Grip the blocks firmly to ensure a good start. Lean forward and push off hard with the feet.

2. Enter the water in streamline position. This means legs together and pointed straight back. Arms should be fully extended and straight with hands together, one over the other. The arms should come up on either side of the face to squeeze the head, ensuring the smallest cross-section and quickest start.

3. Perform a single “pullout” as momentum from the start dies off. This means completing a smaller version of the breaststroke hand motion, then continuing to push the hands all the way to the hips, and then bringing the hands up to streamline position again. During this pullout, perform a single dolphin kick (meaning both feet together) to help propel you forward.

4. Continue the regular breaststroke. This involves facing front down, pulling water back by tracing a circle with the hands, and eventually bringing the hands to the chest. The hands then shoot straight forward to return at the start, at which point you should perform a frog kick by pushing the legs outward to either side and then retracting the legs.

Breaststroke is highly dependent on how much power a swimmer can exert during the active part of the stroke. A swimmer slows down significantly during the recovery part of the stroke, so it is important to be able to make the most of the active part.

Kathleen Ty ’19 wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “When I swim breaststroke, I try to pull the water with a lot of force, finish each kick strongly, and keep my head down. I also think it’s important to have long pullouts.”


1. Push off the wall with your hands overlapping above your head.

2.  Begin to dolphin kick as described in the butterfly instructions for three to four seconds, moving your hips upwards and downwards to create a dolphin-like motion.

3. Slowly rise to the surface of the water.

4. Take one arm, point finger tips to bottom of the pool, while pulling the water backwards.

5.  Pull your whole forearm back to your hips and push the water out.

6. Do the same with the other arm while bringing your first arm back in a semi-circular motion.

7. After three strokes, take your breath while one hand is above your head and the other one is halfway through your stroke with only half of your face out of the water.

8. Continue this technique until you complete your individual performance.