What are the Four Swimming Strokes?

It's finally spring, and your swimming pool is calling for you.  With each day, it's getting closer and closer to that time of year when you jump off the treadmill and into the water to get your daily dose of aerobics.  But do you ever wonder what swimming strokes would help you reach your goals most efficiently?  Well, we at California Pools would like to help you maintain those New Year's resolutions by explaining which stroke works which muscle groups.

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When doing the breaststroke, be prepared to work the muscles in your back.  According to Kim Nunley, who holds her Master's in Kinesiology, "most of the propelling power in the breaststroke…comes from the latissimus dorsi muscles in your back."  Since the breaststroke requires the frog kick, this swim pattern will use a lot of the glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings as well.

Front Crawl / Freestyle

The front crawl swim stroke, or the freestyle, is one of the most commonly taught swimming strokes to young learners.  But it is also the stroke that "generates the most force" because it uses a significant amount of shoulder strength, according to Exercise Science expert Shannon Clark.  In addition, Aquathlon champion Fiona Bayly explains that the swimmer must use abdominal muscles and hip stabilizers to keep steady balance through each front crawl stroke.

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Since the backstroke is nearly the same motion as the freestyle swimming stroke, it uses almost all of the same muscles.  The shoulder muscles and abdominals are still vital for pushing your body through the water and maintaining balance.  Typically, though, kicking is more difficult on your back, so the quadriceps are flexed more intensely.  Bayly refers to this kicking style as the "flutter kick."

Butterfly Stroke

For this stroke, you'll use the frog kick--just as you would for the breaststroke, thus using a lot of your hamstring muscles.  In addition, the butterfly stroke builds strength in the trapezius and deltoid muscles.  A nursing graduate from the University of Tennessee Rachel Nall also suggests that core abdominal strength is "of vital importance to a swimmer's power" for this stroke because "the core muscles protect the back from injury."

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At California Pools, we value every aspect the swimming pool and backyard has to offer you, whether that's quality family time, social gatherings, or regular (or irregular) exercise.  So if you use your swimming pool / spa for exercise or want to try out some new swimming strokes, enjoy it with these muscle groupings in mind!

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