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Top 10 Swimming Techniques for Beginners

Discover the 10 best swimming techniques for beginners to learn

A lifetime of fun and recreation awaits those who master the art of swimming. Swimming has a peaceful environment that your body will still be able to handle after it can no longer handle activities like running. Additionally, swimming can improve your heart and lungs work your entire body's muscles. Plus, you'll have more fun spending time at the beach or pool if you know how to swim.

Starting Out

When you learn how to swim or teach your child to swim, you should understand the correct swim strokes. You'll have a better chance of learning to swim quickly and enjoying your time in the water more if you choose the easiest stroke.

It is also essential to learn proper techniques when learning to swim. You can stay above water in several ways, but with good technique, you will be able to swim effectively, efficiently, and safely. You will find swimming easier if you start with the easiest strokes.

Best Swimming Technique For Beginners

Flutter Kick

Flutter kicks are among the different types of swimming kicks. This is a simple but effective swimming technique in which you wiggle your legs in a whipping motion. As a beginner, you should learn this technique in a prone and supine position.

How to do it:

  • ​Assume you're floating in the water in a prone position, your legs extended, and your feet pointed downward.
  • ​ Flutter-kicking involves kicking downward with one leg, similar to kicking into a ball while moving the opposite leg upward and vice versa.
  • ​ Begin your downward movement from your hip. Flex your knee slightly as you move downward.
  • ​The water pressure will extend your foot. When you reach the bottom, straighten your knee. The water pressure straightens your leg and pushes your foot into a half-flexed position as you move upward.
  • ​ During the downbeat, the kick goes into its propulsion phase.

Sculling Water

Another basic swimming technique is sculling. You raise your head above water in a floating position and extend your arms sideways at shoulder level. Your arms are used to keep you afloat by sweeping them up and down at the surface.

When combined with kicking movements of the feet, this technique is most effective.

How to do it:

  • ​Put your hands sideways below the surface and bend your elbows slightly.
  • ​ Push water forward and downward with your hands by rotating your forearms 45° forward. Try to keep your arms close to the water's surface.
  • ​ Invert your movements when your hands are about to touch in front of you. Rotate your forearms backward and move your hands backward and outwards. The water will now be pushed downward and back.
  • ​ You can then reverse the direction and move your hands forward once you can no longer move your hands further backward.
  • ​ You can keep your head above the water's surface by pressing your forearms and palms against it while swimming.

Breaststroke Kick

Although the breaststroke kick among all the types of swimming kicks is more challenging to learn, even more complicated than the flutter kick, it's also essential to know as a beginner. Beginners can tread water and learn how to swim elementary backstroke using the breaststroke kick. They will use the breaststroke kick later on when swimming breaststroke.

How to do it:

The movements of the breaststroke kick can be divided into the following phases:

  • Glide phase
  • ​ Recovery
  • ​ Catch
  • ​ Outsweep
  • ​ Insweep
  • ​ Back to glide

Glide phase

During the glide phase, we will discuss leg movements:

  • You are in a prone position in the water.
  • ​ Your arms are extended forward.
  • ​ Your legs are closed and stretched, and your feet are pointed backward.
  • ​ As your face turns downward, the head is neutral in the water.


  • ​Leg recovery begins as soon as your arms reach the end of the propulsive phase (in a sweep).
  • ​ Your head and shoulder are above water at this moment. The hips are underwater slightly so your body can stay in an inclined position.

The knees are bent when you begin the recovery process, and the heels are pulled towards the buttocks. Your feet are also bent simultaneously (the back of the feet is drawn towards the shins).

Knees should be kept close together but not touched. Bend your hips slightly toward the end of the recovery when keeping your feet closer to the buttocks.


During the catch, you bring your legs into a position to ensure a good grasp of the water. The legs can then generate sufficient propulsion for the next kick phase (outsweep).

The knees should be fully bent during the catch, and the heels close to the buttocks. You should now move your knees shoulder-width apart and turn your feet outward, so the inside of your feet face outward and backward.


Outsweeping begins after assuming the catch position. By extending the legs and spreading the knees wider, the lower leg and the inside of the feet push outward and backward against the water and generate propulsion.


During the insweep, your legs are extended and pulled together simultaneously.

This phase also involves the feet turning inward, which were previously turned outward.

When the insweep is complete, your legs are fully extended and lying together, almost touching the ground.

Back to Glide

The legs move up a little more during the last phase of the breaststroke kick due to inertia. Meanwhile, the legs are also extended backward so that their toes point back.

After the stroke cycle has been completed, you can observe a short glide phase before the stroke starts again.

Starfish Float

The starfish float is one of the floating techniques in swimming in which the body is positioned on its back with the arms and legs spread apart.

How to do it:

You can do the starfish float on your back by following these steps:

  • ​Get in the shallow end of the pool to keep the water at your waist level.
  • ​ Crawl down so that you are at shoulder level with the water.
  • ​ Distancing your arms from your body and spreading them horizontally.
  • ​ Get in an oblique position in the water by leaning back.
  • ​ With your feet, push yourself up to the surface of the water with enough momentum so that your legs rise.
  • ​ Put your arms apart and lean back so that your body forms a straight line from head to toe.
  • ​ Spread your legs apart slowly.
  • ​ Stay relaxed and breathe deeply while keeping your head, back and hips aligned.

Treading Water

You can remain afloat in the water while keeping both your head and body above water by treading water. A technique like this can help orient yourself in the water or observe what is happening around you on land. Treading water becomes easy once you learn how to flutter kick, and scull water. Then, treading water is simply a matter of combining both swimming techniques.

How to do it:

  • ​Sculling with your arms on a horizontal plane and fluttering with your legs on a vertical plane are popular techniques for treading water.
  • ​ Raise your arms sideways to the shoulder height to scull water. Next, move your arms forward, and with your hands, push against the water.
  • ​ The pressure in your hands and arms will exert on the water and create buoyancy to keep you afloat.
  • ​ For flutter kicks, you kick forward and backward alternatively with quick and small movements, with your feet pointing downward.
  • ​ The flutter kick will also give some buoyancy and help in keeping your body afloat.

Dog Paddle

Doggy paddle or dog paddle swimming technique is also one of the basic swimming skills and techniques. Keep your head above the surface of the water and look ahead as you float in the water. You perform a flutter kick with your legs and paddle forward and downward with your arms.

How to do it:

  • ​In a prone position, float on your chest, pushing off the ground.
  • ​ Your palms should be facing down as you extend your arms forward.
  • ​ To do the flutter kick, extend your legs wide and move them quickly up and down with your toes pointed. Your lower body will remain afloat and provide propulsion.
  • ​ Your chin should be forward, while your forehead and eyes should be above the surface of the water.
  • ​ Use circular motions to move each hand backward and upward, then forward and downward alternately.

As you push water with your hands, you lift your upper body, providing some propulsion and allowing your upper body to move forward.


Breaststroke is one of the 4 basic strokes in swimming. Swimmers often repeat this phrase to remember the breaststroke swimming technique cycle: pull, breathe, kick, glide.

How to do it:

  • ​Keep your body straight and horizontal as you float with your face in the water. Keep your hands stacked and your arms and legs long.
  • ​ Your thumbs should be pointing down. Spread your hands out and back as far as you can, elbows high. Take a deep breath and lift your head slightly.
  • ​ Bring your hands together with your thumbs pointing up in front of you. Your elbows should be close to your body. Bend your knees simultaneously, bringing your feet toward your butt while pointing them outward.
  • ​ Your arms should be extended forward. In a circle, snap your feet together while your arms are extended. Submerge your head underwater and exhale.
  • ​ Glide forward and then repeat.

Elementary Backstroke

Once you can float on your back, you can learn the elementary backstroke quickly. Simple kicks of the breaststroke are combined with simple arm movements to propel swimmers in the backstroke.

How to do it:

Initial Position and Glide Phase

Firstly, let's look at the initial position and glide phase:

  • ​Using your feet, push yourself off the wall. Get on your back in a horizontal position.
  • ​ The position of your head is neutral, parallel to your body.
  • ​ You have your head above the water and are facing upward.
  • ​ You rest your arms along your body.
  • ​ Face your palms towards your body.
  • ​ Keeping your legs together, you extend them.
  • ​ You might want to glide a little before you begin moving your arms and legs.

First Active Phase: Chicken

  • ​Bring your hands to your armpits and bend your elbows as if you want to tickle yourself.
  • ​ While bending your knees, bring your feet up toward your buttocks. Bend your knees while keeping your legs together.
  • ​ To make this position more fun for children, you can call it a chicken or monkey.

Second Active Phase: Eagle

  • Your body should form an X in the water as you extend your arms sideways. Your palms should be facing backward.
  • ​ Extend your legs while spreading them out.
  • ​ You can call this position eagle or plane for children.

Third Active Phase: Soldier

Finally, you will perform the propelling movements of this swimming stroke:

  • Extend your arms outward and inward, pushing against the water as you do so until they are back to their initial positions at your sides.
  • ​ Put your legs back together simultaneously. This will also provide propulsion and return your legs to their original positions.
  • ​ For children, this position can be called soldier or rocket.
  • ​ Start a new stroke cycle after gliding for a few moments.


Also called the front crawl swimming technique, flutter kicks characterize freestyle. Learn these front crawl swimming strokes first if you want to learn the full stroke of the freestyle swimming breathing technique.

How to do it:

  • ​Your body should be straight and horizontal, while your face should be in the water. Keep your hands stacked and keep your arms and legs straight.
  • ​ You must move one foot up and one foot down to do the flutter kick. Maintain relaxed ankles and slightly bent knees as you alternate quickly.
  • ​ Your right hand should be 12 to 18 inches from your shoulder with the palm facing down.
  • ​ Hold your right hand diagonally at the bottom, pointing your fingers down. Your elbow should be pointing upwards.
  • ​ While rotating your hip and shoulder upward, pass your right hand along your thigh. Raise your hand upward and across the water.
  • ​ Do the same thing with your left hand after entering your right hand in the water.
  • ​ Then repeat. As your hand exits the water, breathe every two to three strokes.

Here is a freestyle swimming technique video.

Butterfly Stroke

The butterfly, or fly, is the most complex stroke to master. It requires a great deal of coordination and timing.

First, learn the wavelike body movement before trying the butterfly stroke swimming technique. The butterfly stroke is based on this motion. You are ready to incorporate the arm motions once you have mastered this move.

How to do it:

  • Keep your body straight and horizontal as you float with your face in the water. Keep your hands stacked and your arms and legs long.
  • ​ Push your hips up as you lower your head. After that, move your head up and pull your hips down. Alternate between the two movements.
  • ​ You should follow with your hips and kick when your head goes down. Extend your arms past your hips. Lift your head at the same time.
  • ​ Keep your body wave going, sending your arms across the water. Immerse your face in the water while sending your arms across. Breathe out. One arm cycle is complete.
  • ​ Then repeat. Breathe every two to three cycles.

Here is a butterfly stroke swimming video.

Final Thoughts

Swimming techniques for beginners are vital because you will never be able to improve your speed and efficiency without them. As a swimmer, you will have poor technique and less efficiency if you attempt to put it all together without mastering your skills.

Did you find these beginner swimming techniques useful? If so, please share them with your friends.

Article by Sam Fury

Sam Fury 3 png
Sam Fury 3 png

Sam Fury is the creator and owner of the Survival Fitness Plan.

He has had a passion for martial arts and outdoor pursuits since he was a young boy growing up in Australia.

As a young adult he joined the military and studied outdoor leadership in college. After that, to further his skills, Sam started traveling to learn from the best in the world in various fields related to the Survival Fitness Plan including various martial arts in China, SE Asia and Brazil, Parkour in Singapore, Surf Life Saving in Australia, and others. 

These days, he still enjoys learning new things, traveling and sharing what he has learned via the Survival Fitness Plan. 

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