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Introduction to the Sidestroke

SidestrokeEvery recreational and professional swimmer can learn swim the sidestroke because it is useful in so many ways:

  • The stroke is often needed when rescuing someone from the water. If you are pulling someone from the water, you will need to swim on your side so you can pull them without losing speed, and without drowning yourself along with them.
  •  You can go faster with the sidestroke than the breaststroke, which is originally why this stroke was created. You do not have the pressure of your body against the water to hold you back, so you go faster with each kick when performing this stroke.
  •  Breathing technique is simple and easy to learn with this stroke. In fact, many people find the entire stroke to be rather simple to learn.
  •  It allows your face and one ear to remain out of the water, so it is great for swimmers who do not want to keep their face down in the water.
  • You work a lot of muscles with the sidestroke, but it is still incredibly relaxing. You get some fitness benefits while relaxing.


You can perform the sidestroke quickly, or in a more relaxing manner. The stroke is performed entirely on your side, and your body is propelled forward by a combination of a scissor style kick and the force of your lead arm. Your lead arm is the arm under the water, beneath your body when you are turned on your side.

Performing the Sidestroke

Stand in the water, and then turn your body to the side with one arm under the water, and the other on top. Your top arm should be down by your thigh, while your lead arm extends out in front of your body in the water.

Push off with your legs, keeping them close together. Your leg motion will be like scissors, with one leg going forward while the other goes back, and then switching. While your legs are kicking, your lead arm should push down into the water, drawing toward the body and then back out. Keep the hand of your lead arm turned with the palm facing out in front of your body and a little downward.

While the lead arm pulls your body forward, the power of the sidestroke really comes from the legs. The more powerful they are, the faster you will swim.


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