Swimmers should learn as many different swimming techniques as possible, since each of them will put your body in a different position and will use different muscles. This can hold importance if you ever find yourself swimming for a lengthy distance, as it can help prevent fatigue by allowing you to rest in certain positions. Competitive swimmers should also learn multiple swimming techniques, since it gives you the chance to compete in more than one event.
You will commonly hear the front crawl referred to as the freestyle stroke, since the majority of the swimmers in a freestyle event use it because it provides the most speed. The front crawl calls for you to kick hard with your feet, while bringing your arms over your head and into the water one at a time. You must keep your body as straight as possible, as any lateral movements will slow you down. Your breathing also holds importance, as you must time the breaths that you take with your swimming strokes.
The backstroke has many similarities to the front crawl, except that you float on your back, rather than propelling your front through the water first. You will begin this stroke by floating in the water with your lungs on the surface, but the rest of your body beneath the water. You must keep yourself horizontal as you move through the water, which you will achieve through your leg kicks. Your stroke will involve pulling the water beneath you, which will propel your body through the water.
The butterfly stroke calls for you to bring both arms over your head at the same time and push them into the water to propel yourself. The butterfly stroke uses a dolphin-style kick, which means that your legs will stay straight and together as you kick them through the water. When using the butterfly stroke, you must remember to stabilize yourself with your core and create a rhythm between the underwater and above-water portions of the stroke.
The breaststroke uses a frog-style kick, where you will bend your knees and then kick your legs out beneath the water. Your arm stroke will begin with a sweep out from your breast and then a sweep in back to your breast. Make sure that your body remains completely straight between your strokes, as this will allow your body to move through the water easily at this time.
Although not used in competition, the sidestroke holds importance for swimmers because you can use it to rescue someone, since it only requires one arm. The stroke resembles picking apples, as you will float on your side, reach up like when picking an apple and then reach down like when putting the apple into a basket. You can glide in between strokes, which allows you to move easily through the water while tugging along some person or thing.