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Basic Swimming Tutorial: Backstroke

The backstroke or back crawl, is the only stroke that is swum on one’s back. It is one of the four swimming styles regulated by the Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA). Perhaps the obvious advantage is that swimmers will have an easier time breathing. However, they might not be able to see where they are going as they are facing the sky.



1. First, position yourself on your back and push yourself off the wall maintaining a streamline position.

2. After your initial burst of speed from the push off, start with dolphin kicks while you are still underwater and in a streamline position before rising to the surface.

3. Just before you rise out from the water surface, switch from a dolphin kick to a flutter kick.

4. As you emerge from the water, rotate your body to your right side between 60 to 70 degrees, so that your right hip and right shoulder are underwater. You should still be on your back.

5. Your right arm which is submerged in the water, will begin the catch by going above your head, at a 45 degree angle to your body.

6. Move your palm and anterior forearm towards your feet as you bend your elbow slightly.

7. Draw your elbow towards your waist as your palm and forearm continue moving towards your feet. During this phase, your body will rotate to the left and cause your right arm to rise towards the surface of the water. Do not let your right hand rise above the surface of the water.

8. As your body flattens out on the water and your palm and forearm pass the crest of your right hip, rotate your palm and forearm towards the bottom of the pool. This will rotate your hip over and place your left arm in the catch position. Continue to alternate between your right and left hand through the pull pattern.

9. Your left hand will commence the recovery by, pointing your fingers towards your feet and facing your palm to your lateral left thigh. Ensure your arm remains straight and your thumb points towards the sky before lifting your arm out of the water.

10. Lock your elbows to keep your left arm straight and move it in an arc motion over your body while keeping your fingers pointed to the sky.

11. As your left arm passes through the position where it is perpendicular to your chest and begins to move over your head, turn your arm so that your pinky finger enters the water first.

12. The rotation of your body due to your hips, will submerge your left arm and place it into the catch position. Continue to alternate between your left and right arms through the recovery position.



  • Kick anywhere between 4-7 times per stroke.
  • Straighten your legs and avoid splashing.
  • Avoid swimming diagonally as it will require you to swim a longer distance.
  • All rotation must begin with the hip and must rotate as one unit. Do not allow your shoulders and hips to rotate independently of each other and ensure that there is equal rotating on both sides.
  • Keep your head stable and face the sky.
  • Relax your neck and if it becomes tense or sore, tip your head back a little bit to ease it.

Equipment Required

  • Backstroke flags
  • Swimming pool
  • Goggles
  • Swimming attire
  • Lifeguard (for safety precautions)
There are not many people that can master the backstroke without assistance. The reason is because all of us do not have eyes at the back of our head. Hence, we are unable to see if we are actually doing the stroke accurately and precisely. This could change with the help of an instructor. So if you’re looking for someone to assist you, then why not sign up with us? Just visit our website at http://www.swimminglesson.com.my/, choose the lesson you want and fill up the registration form. Our coordinators will be in contact with you upon receiving it to make further arrangements. So don’t procrastinate further, sign up today!
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