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Elementary Backstroke

Elementary back stroke is used for recreational and survival swimming. Elementary backstroke uses symmetrical and simultaneous movements of the arms and legs to propel the body forward. The arms move up the sides of the body, reach out and press toward the feet as the legs kick in a circular action. The arms stroke and the kick finish at the same time.

Allowing the swimmer to glide briefly in a streamlined position. Begin in the glide position with your back straight, your legs together, and your arms at your sides. Your palms face your thighs, your hips and legs may be slightly lower than your head and shoulders, but your hips stay near the surface throughout the stroke. The waterline usually covers your ears, but your face will always be out of the water.

Focus on developing a rhythmic pattern of breathing. Inhale as your arms recover up your sides. Exhale during the power phase as your arms pressed toward your feet. Although your arms and legs move through their power phase simultaneously, your arms start their recovery just ahead of your legs because your legs are stronger and travel a shorter distance than your arms both your legs and arms finish their powerful arms at the same time. At the end of this combined power phase, glide for a few seconds before you start recovery for the next stroke. Begin to recover your arms and legs for the next stroke before you lose all forward momentum from the glide. From the glide position the arm stroke for elementary back stroke begins with the recovery. Keep your palms facing down or toward your body as you bend your elbows and slide your hands up along your sides to a point just below your armpits.

The power phase of the arm stroke begins here. Point your fingers away from your shoulders with your palms facing toward your feet, leading with your fingers extend your arms out to your sides at or slightly above shoulder level.

If you think of a clock face, your hands should extend no further than the 2:00 and 10:00 positions. With your arms straight or slightly bent press your palms and the insides of your arms back toward your feet in a broad, sweeping motion. Your arms end up in the glide position with your palms against your thighs.

Now watch the entire arm stroke recovery and power phase. Your arms move smoothly from the start of the recovery through the completion of the power phase. Be sure to keep your hands just below the surface of the water throughout the arm stroke.

In the kick for elementary back stroke both legs bend at the knee and then push out and back around in a circular pushing motion. Began in the glide position, legs together, toes pointed. Recover your legs by bending and slightly separating your knees while you draw your heels downward to a point under and outside your knees. Be careful not to drop your hips when you drop your heels. Your hips should stay in line with your thighs and near the surface. Your knees are spread hip width or slightly wider. At the end of recovery rotate your knees slightly inward flex your ankles and rotate your feet outward. Push your feet out and around, ending with your legs in the glide position toes pointed. To get the most power from the kick accelerate your feet throughout the circular pushing motion. Now observe the elementary back stroke in its entirety.