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Home > Fitness > Swim Strokes > Sidestroke

Sidestroke is Easy

Sidestroke is named so because the swimmer lies on one side and is helpful for long-distance swimming because it allows the swimmer more endurance.

Instead of working both arms and legs simultaneously in the same way, the sidestroke uses them simultaneously but differently. If you get tired of exercising one side you can just turn over and use the other to help the limbs recover. It works quite well when swimming in clothes. Hence you can use it as a lifesaving rescue technique to tow a casualty or floating equipment.

Push and Glide

The sidestroke is a stroke that relies on gliding. Push off the pool side and glide through the water, with your lower arm extended in front, with the palm down. Your upper arm should be at your side, near the top of the water, or out of the water if you train for lifesaving. Lifesavers don't use the upper arm because they would pull a casualty. Keep your legs straight and together. Try this a few times.

Pull and Slide

Swim on the side that feels most natural, using an arm pull and scissor kick. After mastering the stroke on that side, learn to do it on the other side. Then, after some time, you turn to the other side, and the lower arm has its chance to work while the upper arm idles. Develop your sidestroke on both right and left sides. Let's look at this in more detail.

Arm Strokes

When we first introduce the sidestroke arm pull, we like to use this analogy: Pick an apple off the tree, put it in the other hand, drop it in the basket.

Lie on your side with the lower arm extended beyond your head in line with your body. Stretch out as far as possible forward. Extend the upper arm down the length of your body over the right thigh. Your hands act directly upon the water like oars. Do not waste any power by oblique action.

Lower Arm: Pull the lower arm downward until it is straight down from the shoulder. Flex the elbow and pull into your side, hand near your neck. Turn the palm toward your face and thrust forward to the original extended position. Turn palm down.

Upper Arm: Bend the upper arm at the elbow. Your upper hand moves forward to meet and pass the lower hand near your neck or face. Move your upper hand upward in front of your chest, then push it forward and downward in front of the chin or face to catch the water. Push the upper hand backward to its original position by the right thigh.

As you push yourself through the water with your upper arm, your lower arm extends back outward. When you perform this motion, your legs should come back together so they’re parallel.

Scissor Kick

Draw up the feet with the upper foot slightly forward until the knees are bent at a right angle. Straighten the upper knee and thrust the foot forward, downward, and then backward in a semicircular sweeping motion. Keep the toes pointed upwards during the backward sweep, as if kicking a door shut.

At the same time, straighten the lower knee and thrust the foot backward, downward, and then forward in a sweeping motion resembling a kick. Keep the lower foot extended throughout the stroke. Your legs should extend to about a 45-degree angle.

Bring the legs together at the end of the stroke, and keep them in a straight line with the toes pointed during the glide.

Coordination of Arms and Legs

From the start/glide position, begin the stroke with the downward pull of the lower arm. At the same time, bring the upper arm forward and draw up the knees towards your chest to begin the kick. Let the thrust and pull of the upper arm and the kick of the legs coincide with the completion of the pull of the lower arm and its thrust forward to the gliding position.

The legs make a scissor kick, in which the lower leg does the greater share of the work. Before its push is quite expended, the lower arm comes round in a broad sweep down and up again towards your chest, until the palm of the upper hand almost touches the thigh.

Kick your legs in opposite directions. Your upper leg should kick to the front as your lower leg kicks to the back. Return to your to the starting position. This completes one cycle of the stroke, which is then repeated.

Sprinter Stroke

There is one difference between the full side stroke and sprinter stroke:

Instead of bringing the second lead arm fully down to the side of the body, it will only do a half stroke. It moves halfway towards the body and is then brought back to the fully extended position.

The sprinter side stroke allows you to move faster in the water compared to the full travel stroke. This maybe necessary when you have to get to shore quickly or cross a river.

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