Side Stroke Swimming Technique

Written by tracy barnhart Google
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Side Stroke Swimming Technique
Lifeguards use sidestroke during a rescue. (lazy river image by michael langley from

Sidestroke is a swimming method often used by the military and lifeguards. Swimming sidestroke allows you to move calmly through the water while keeping your head up. Lifeguards will use this stroke during a rescue because they can tow a person on their hip which keeps the victim's head out of the water while allowing sufficient movement of the lifeguard's legs and free arm to swim to safety. Most swimmers will benefit from learning sidestroke since it is not as strenuous on your body as other competitive strokes.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Pool

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  1. 1

    Lay on your side in the pool. Choose the side that feels most comfortable. Place your ear on the top of the water and extend your bottom arm behind your head so that it is pointing in the direction that you will be swimming.

  2. 2

    Practice kicking your legs in a scissor motion. Draw both knees toward your chest into a sitting position. The top leg will then kick backward first while the bottom leg kicks forward. Move your legs together simultaneously to the starting position. The push on the water when your legs move together propels you forward.

  3. 3

    Learn the arm movement by pulling your bottom arm down and to your side. At the same time, bend your top arm up toward your chest. Your arms will meet at the waist as if passing a baton. Extend your bottom arm over your head to its original position while you push the top arm back down to your side. As you pull with your bottom arm and push with the top arm, rotate your hands so that they are pushing on the water rather than slicing through the pool. The initial pull on the water by your bottom arm and the subsequent push on the water by your top arm will propel you forward.

  4. 4

    Perform the full sidestroke by moving your arms and legs together. Your arms will move toward each other while your legs are moving up and out. Extend both your arms and legs to the original starting position at the same time.

Tips and warnings

  • Learn the sidestroke when laying on both your right and left sides.

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