The four basic strokes are the backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle. The individual medley is a combination of all four strokes (in Fly, Back, Breast, Free order) in one event. Each stroke has specific criteria that must be met in order to be considered as proper technique and avoid disqualification. These criteria can apply to take-off (starts), turns and finishes, as well.
- BREASTSTROKE - This stroke is the most formalized of the four. The swimmer may pull in any fashion that keeps the arms under water at all times and with a simultaneous "frog kick" motion of both legs with the toes pointing outward. The swimmer is not allowed to flutter or dolphin kick (up and down motions with the feet). On starts and turns, the swimmer is allowed to take one pull and one kick underwater. When touching the wall for turns and when finishing, both hands must touch at the same time.
- BUTTERFLY - The butterfly is similar to the breaststroke in that all movements must be simultaneous. The arms and legs must move together. The swimmer must bring his/her arms over the top of the water when recovering from the previous pull. The kick must be simultaneous, up and down movements of the legs (dolphin kick). As is the case with breaststroke, when turning and upon finishing, both hands must touch the wall at the same time. When finishing, both hands must also touch the wall at the same level.
- FREESTYLE - In a freestyle event, the swimmer may do anything he/she likes to get from one end of the pool to the other. Nothing is barred, except for pulling along the ropes or grabbing another swimmer for a free ride. When touching the wall, any part of the body may be used. The swimmer need not touch with the hand. In a freestyle relay, the conventional freestyle stroke must be used.
- BACKSTROKE - The prime rule is that the competitor must be on his/her back. This stroke starts with the swimmers in the water, gripping the pool edge or part of the diving block with part of each foot to be UNDER water at the start of the race. The swimmer may start with a back dive and remain underwater for up to 16.4 yards before surfacing. He/she may do any sort of stroke or kick that does not turn him/her over the vertical position, except as part of a turn, before the wall is touched. On turns and at the finish, the swimmer’s hand, head, foot or shoulder must touch the wall.
Recommended Clothing/Gear to bring to practice:
- Swim Suit
- Swim Cap
- Two pair of Goggles (in case one breaks)
- Water Bottle
- Hoodie or jacket (especially for swimmers in late events)