How to Swim Backstroke

Think of backstroke as the upside down freestyle. Backstroke may appear difficult at first glance because it’s the only one of the major swim strokes that features you moving through the water face up, rather than face down. If you’re new to backstroke, this may take some getting used to, but once you have it down, you’ll be cruising!

Body Position

First things first… Get used to floating on your back. After all, you’ll be spending quite a bit of time that way if you’re to become a champion backstroker—and we think you will! You should be positioned as high on the water as you can be, with your head emerged from the water and the remainder of your body as parallel as possible with the surface.

The Kick

Legs straight with pointed toes, you will utilize the same fluttering motion as you would when swimming Freestyle. The goal is to keep your churning legs and feet just below the surface of the water to maximize speed and efficiency.

The Windmill

Raise your arm in a windmill motion toward the sky, directly above your head. Then rotate your arm so that your pinky is the first finger to make contact with the water. Your opposite arm should pull back toward the hip underwater bending at the elbow, preparing for its own windmill to start. Each arm should execute opposite movements throughout your backstroke—one moving above the water, while the other sweeping back toward your hip.


This part is pretty simple. Breathing comes easy when your head is facing the sky and gliding above the water, so you are free to develop your own breathing patterns.


We can’t stress enough that you’ll never learn how to swim the backstroke, or any swim stroke, simply from reading. So get your suit and goggles on, and find a pool!

Take Note:

  • Don’t hit the grab bar! Our innovative backstroke mirror allows you to see your position in the pool, allowing you to perfect your form.
  • Practice moving your arms with consistently equal strength. Put too much power into one arm and you will veer off your intended line!
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