Wisconsin Swimming




If you're not a former swimmer, the strokes and their rules can be a cause of bewilderment. The following definitions offer general explanations of the strokes and are intended to give a visual concept of the motions involved.  


The four competitive strokes are the FREESTYLE, BACKSTROKE, BREASTSTROKE, and BUTTERFLY.  



The freestyle is defined as any means of swimming across the pool. Any stroke and kick are acceptable. There are, however, a few don'ts associated with this stroke, specifically: (1) You cannot walk on the bottom or pull yourself along using the lane lines and (2) In a 50 Meter race (two pool lengths) you must touch the wall at the 25 meter end before touching the wall at the 50 meter end. 


However, the usual Freestyle stroke used is the crawl, which is characterized by the alternate overhand motion of the arms and an alternating up and down flutter kick.  



Like the freestyle, almost anything goes on the backstroke as long as you stay on your back. Watching swimmers learn the backstroke is a perverse sense of fun as they bounce off lane lines and wonder where they are. Eventually, they will learn to guide off the lane lines, use the overhead backstroke flags and the lane line markings to know where they're at in the pool, and count strokes from the flags to the wall.

Backstroke starts are different from all others because the swimmer is in the water feet planted against the wall, and hanging on to the lip on the pool awaiting the starter's signal. If your swimmer is a backstroker, he or she will eventually learn the backstroke flip turn. This is the one exception to staying on your back and can be used only as part of a turn (not a finish) at the pool wall.The stroke consists of an alternating motion of the arms with a flutter kick.  



The Breaststroke has two components, the kick and the arm pull.   It requires simultaneous movements of the arms and legs on a horizontal plane.  The hands are pulled from the breast in a heart-shaped pattern and recovered out in front of the body.  The pull and its recovery must both be under the breast and cannot extend further back than the waist area. The kick is a "frog" kick and the toes must be pointed outward during the propulsive part of the kick. The arm pull and kick must be in an alternating sequence and the elbows must stay below the water except for tagging the wall at the finish. Breaststroke turns and finishes require a simultaneous two-hand touch.



A well-executed butterfly (or Fly) is the most beautiful exhibition of power you'll ever see in a swimming pool.   There are two components of the fly; the arm pull and the kick. The arm pull must be an over the water recovery (elbows breaking the surface of the water) with the arms moving simultaneously. The kick is a dolphin style kick with both legs moving simultaneously. Turns and finishes require a simultaneous two-hand touch at the wall.



Commonly referred to as the "IM", the individual medley features all four strokes.  In the IM, the swimmer changes strokes after each fourth of the race.  The IM is always completed in the same order:  Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, Freestyle.  



The medley relay features all for strokes swum in relay form.  The first swimmer swims the Backstroke, the second swimmer the Breaststroke, the third Butterfly, and the fourth Freestyle.  



A relay that consists of the four swimmers all swimming freestyle.