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Events in a swimming competition


In freestyle events, the competitor may swim any stroke, but the fastest is what is often called the crawl, which is characterized by the alternate stroking of the arms over the water surface and an alternating (up-and-down) flutter kick. On turns and finishes, some part of the swimmer must touch the wall. Most swimmers do a flip turn.


Backstroke consists of an alternating motion of the arms with a flutter kick while on the back. On turns, swimmers may turn onto the stomach and do a flip turn (they cannot glide into the wall and then turn). Some part of the swimmer must touch the wall at the turn. The swimmer must finish on the back.


The breaststroke requires simultaneous movements of the arms on the same horizontal plane. The hands are pushed forward from the breast. In the return of the arms, the hand cannot go part the waist. The kick is a simultaneous somewhat circular motion similar to the action of a frog. On turns and at the finish, the swimmer must touch the wall with both hands simultaneously. One of the hardest parts of the breaststroke is the start. After the dive, while still underwater, the swimmer can (but doesn’t have to) do one arm pull where the hands can go past the waist, one dolphin kick, and then another arm pull-with a breaststroke kick – to bring them to the surface.


Some consider the butterfly to be the most beautiful of the strokes. It features a simultaneous movement of the arms over the water combined with an undulating dolphin kick. In the kick, the swimmer must keep both legs together and may not flutter, scissor or breaststroke kick. Both hands must touch the wall simultaneously on the turns and the finish.


The individual medley, commonly referred to as the I.M., features all four strokes. In the IM, the swimmer begins with the butterfly, then changes after one fourth of the race to backstroke, then breaststroke and finally freestyle. The rules of each stroke apply to that leg of the IM.


In the medley relay, all four strokes are swum. The first swimmer swims backstroke, the second breaststroke, the third butterfly, and the final swimmer anchors the relay with freestyle.


The freestyle relay events consist of four swimmers, each swimming one quarter of the total distance of the 

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