PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 November, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 November, 2008, 12:00am

Swimming is excellent exercise. It has developed into a competitive sport. The swimmer who completes a given distance fastest wins the competition.

A swimming style is called a stroke. There are four types of strokes in swimming.


Freestyle This is also called the front crawl or forward crawl, among others. It is the fastest of the four swimming strokes. The arm movement powers the swimmer forward.

The two arms move in turns. The legs move at the same time. One leg kicks downward while the other kicks upward.

The leg movement is called the flutter kick. Kicking can make you swim faster. It can also help keep your body in position while swimming.

Backstroke This is also called the back crawl. It is the only style in which the swimmer lies on his back. It is also the only event that starts in the water.

The backstroke is like an upside-down freestyle.

Butterfly This is the most difficult stroke. It needs very good swimming skills. The arms, the head and parts of the shoulder have to be lifted out of the water. Therefore, it needs great strength as well.

Breaststroke This is also called the 'frog kick' as you swim like a frog. It is the slowest of the four types of stroke. In breaststroke, you move your arms in a circle in front of you while your legs move like a frog's.

Your legs always remain in the water. Breaststroke has one advantage: you can keep your head out of the water at all times. It is very popular among beginners.

In breaststroke and butterfly, swimmers have to touch the wall with both hands. If not, they will be disqualified.

The four strokes can be done individually or together in an event called a medley. The order is: butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and finally freestyle.

In a medley relay, the order is different. Backstroke comes first, followed by breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle.