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How to Swim Sidestroke for Kids

If you’re thinking of a fun and educational activity for your kids, look no further than swimming. More than just splashing around and having fun in the pool, there are many things your child can learn from swimming. 

Learning how to swim can equip them with the skills and confidence needed to navigate the water for safety. There are also many physical and mental benefits such as engaging their muscles in a full-body workout, improving cardiovascular health, and boosting their confidence and self-esteem. 

Swimming can be an excellent activity for exercise, survival, and even self-improvement. Before diving into the specifics of swimming, let’s take a closer look at the different types of swimming. There are many different swimming techniques that you may be familiar with such as the breaststroke and backstroke, but for this blog, we will be focusing on the sidestroke technique

What is Sidestroke Swimming? 

Sidestroke, also known as side swimming, is a technique in swimming where you lie on one side, paired with asymmetrical arm and leg motions. This means that your arms and legs work independently. The arm strokes consist of pull and pull motions. The leading arm of your chosen side sweeps back and down, then forward and upward, which propels you forward. The trailing arm, on the other hand, stays at your side to provide balance. 

As for your legs, instead of the traditional flutter kicks, sidestrokes make use of a scissor kick. This motion refers to extending your top leg forward and kicking back with the bottom leg until both legs come together. It’s a scissor-like motion that utilizes more power, helping you propel faster in the water. 

Since you are lying on your side, your head is rotated towards the bottom of the pool, letting you breathe easier as you can turn your head above the water’s surface. 

The Benefits of Swimming Sidestroke 

Swimming sidestroke is useful for several reasons:

  • Saving Energy: As the sidestroke engages only half of your body, it is an excellent technique for a more relaxed swimming experience. This approach conserves energy, making the sidestroke an ideal choice for covering longer distances efficiently. 
  • Flexibility: Unlike the other swimming techniques, sidestroke swimming promotes flexibility due to the independent arm and leg motions mentioned above. The method allows your child to enhance flexibility and coordination, making it particularly beneficial in the developmental stage.
  • Versatility: Sidestroke swimming means only using one side. The advantage of this technique becomes apparent when fatigue sets in. If one arm becomes tired, you can effortlessly switch to the other side, ensuring a continuous and comfortable swimming experience. 

The Importance of Learning the Sidestroke Technique

Aside from competitive swimming, some practical applications of sidestroke swimming would benefit your kids. 

Sidestroke swimming is effective for long-distance swimming like marathons or endurance training. If your child is physically active, this is a great technique to learn to add to their activities. 

The efficient and energy-saving nature of sidestroke swimming makes it beneficial during water-related emergencies. It teaches your child to keep their head high and watch for obstacles or assist others in the water. This is why others call sidestroke swimming a life-saving technique, extremely useful in rescues and emergencies. 

The gentle and relaxing manner of sidestroke swimming is less stressful on the joints, allowing those recovering from injury to still enjoy the waters. 

How to Swim Sidestroke

To swim sidestroke effectively, focusing more on energy conservation than speed is essential. 

Body Position

  • Get your child lying on their side with their body extended, head turned towards the bottom, with one ear resting on the water. Their hips should be higher than their shoulders. 
  • Tell them they should engage in their core to prevent from rolling on their backs. 

Arm Strokes

  • Their bottom arm (the one closer to the bottom of the pool) should be extended with their palm facing down. This is the ‘catch’ position. 
  • They will then sweep this bottom arm down and back in a semicircle, pulling the water close to their chest. As it reaches their chest, they have to rotate their palm inwards.
  • Then, they push the bottom arm towards their side to propel themselves forward. The hand should glide along the hip as it returns to the starting position. 
  • As this happens, the top arm near the surface should be relaxed at the side. 

Leg Kicks

  • During the pull of their bottom arm, their top leg should be extended forward, kicking their bottom leg back, with knees slightly bent. This opens the scissor kick position.
  • Once the bottom arm pushes and recovers, they should bring both legs together and squeeze them as they glide. 

If your child is new to swimming, we recommend practicing the arm strokes separately from the kicks before combining the two techniques. They can start in shallow water before they increase their pace. The best way to refine their technique and get better feedback is through seeking professional swimming instructors for guidance. 

Turn your child into a confident swimmer with Bear Paddle. Explore our swim programs today! 

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