Quickly Learn The 4 Basic Swim Strokes That Triathlete Swimmers Should Know

Austin Tri Club Triathlete Swimmer doing free style drill
Austin Tri Club Triathlete Swimmer

While most triathletes swim freestyle in a triathlon, knowing the other basic strokes will greatly improve your swimming efficiency and help you with sighting and navigating open water swim situations during your triathlon race or multi-sport event that has a swim leg.

Want to get better at swimming in triathlons?

Many triathletes join Master swim programs offered usually at their local YMCA, because training with swimmers is the best way to improve their swim technique and speed for competing and participating in aqua bike, swim-run events and triathlon races.

Masters Swim coaches teach technique and interval training to a group of athletes right from the pool deck complete with a swim workout usually posted on a white board.

If you are a beginner triathlete thinking about taking a Master's swim class, you should know that swim workouts can include all IM Strokes, such as free, butterfly, back, and breast stroke.

We have compiled this quick guide on how to learn to do the basic swim strokeA quickly and easily, so that you are not taken off guard and can take part in Master's Swim class without feeling lost.

Master Swim Triathlon Clinic
Coach Peggy Training Triathletes Deck Side

How to Perform the 4 Basic Strokes That Swimmers and Triathletes Should Know

Swim Stroke: Free Style

Float on your back in the water, face down, stretching your body as far as possible.

Keep your legs long and your toes pointed. Kick your legs up and down (alternating sides every beat), making your ankles as floppy as possible and your feet act as flippers. Kick your legs repeatedly and quickly.

Begin by extending your arms in front of your head as far as they will go. Pull one arm all the way to your thigh, all the way under your body.

As you prepare to enter the water in front of your head, take your arm out of the water and sweep it across the surface, stretching it.

Continue to pull your arms in a continuous, fluid motion so that one arm enters near the head and the other exits near the thigh.

Take a deep breath by turning your head to the side. Turn with one arm in front of you and the other on your thigh.

While your your head is turned, try to keep one ear in the water. Return your face to the water and exhale as your arm sweeps over it.

Swim Stroke: Breaststroke

Float on your belly in the water, face down, stretching your body as far as possible. Keep your hands clasped together.

Stretch your toes and keep your legs as long as possible. Bend your knees slowly and bring your feet to your bottom.

Bend both ankles and point your feet outwards, then kick back and slightly downwards, clapping your feet together.

Maintain your head in the water with your arms outstretched in front of you. Turn your hands so that the thumbs are pointing down, and then press out and round with both hands.

Turn your hands so that the thumbs are pointing up and draw your hands together in a small circle in front of your shoulders.

Lift your head completely out of the water to breathe in as your arms begin to return in unison, then stretch your arms out and return your head to the water to breathe out.

You will form a natural rhythm with each stroke to: Pull --> Breathe --> Kick --> Glide with each stroke once you get the hang of it.

Swim Stroke: Backstroke

Float on your back with your ears just below the surface of the water and your eyes up; stretch your body as far as you can.

Alternately kick your legs up and down, making your ankles as floppy as possible and using your feet as flippers, keeping your toes long and pointed.

Knees should be submerged in water at all times, and toes should make a small splash. Kick your legs quickly and repeatedly.

Start by extending your arms down the side of your body. Maintain a straight arm and lift it out of the water in an arc motion over the top.

Enter the water with your little fingers first, palms facing each other at a slight angle, and your arm straight. Pull your arm all the way down to your thigh, all the way under the water.

As one arm enters, the other is ready to exit at the thigh, so continue to pull your arms in a continuous motion.

As needed, a breath is taken on a regular basis, and at least once during the stroke.

Swim Stroke: Butterfly

Float on your back in the water, face down, stretching your body as far as possible.