Is swimming just another ordinary sport? Uninteresting and boring. Some consider it very easy to master.

Swimming is one of the most popular sports. It belongs to the category of basic sports. Kids can start with swimming at the earliest age (there are baby clubs where babies few months old spend some time  with their parents in the pool) and even later in life learning swimming techniques is not a problem. We must mention that swimming is a sport discipline in which the body develops adequately and symmetrically. Parents should enroll their children to swimming clubs while they are small to overcome the fear of water, learn to swim, because they will need it in life, and to develop physically.


The earliest data of man’s swimming knowledge are from a few thousand years ago. At the time of the original community, swimming was learnt because of the need for survival. Later swimming was most often used in wars. It was present in all old civilizations (Greece, China, Rome) for military and health purposes.

One of the most important processes in sports education is certainly the training of swimmers with certain swimming techniques, and today it is not possible to imagine to train non-swimmers without the use of certain swimming equipment. Data on the organized approach to swimming training relate to the year 1797, when Gutus Muts recommended that every child should be physically prepared before the start of the training, and that before the training of a particular technique its elements should be learned first outside of the pool, then in the water. And then certain equipment were applied that was similar in appearance as today, with the difference that today the equipment is modernized, made of lightweight materials, less sensitive to fractures and it is colored, and more appiling to children.

During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, a large number of pedagogues, doctors and other influential people of that time, using their own practice or the practice of others, recommend a number of methods and equipment to be used in organized work on training for non-swimmers as well as for a physical preparation of swimmers. The requisites have been modernized for the last few years for the needs of these sportsmen. Experience has shown that the pedagogical-professional ability of teacher – trainers, the selection of adequate equipment is the dominant factor that depends on how many children will love swimming and how many will continue engaging with this sport after regular training of non-swimmers. Today’s modern achievements provide a multitude of equipment for successful mastering of swimming techniques, and the presence of swimming equipment in the swimmer’s training process is even more dominant.

Swimming practice

In order for swimming to be beneficial to our health, we need to learn kids how to swim properly, and how to make this sport more properly “exercised”. Babies should often get bathe in the first month, while they are quite small to get used to the water. Then, when they grow a little, start walking and talking should be brought to the pool and encouraged to swim in the company of their parents with the use of certain swimming equipment such as plowboards, swimming boards, etc. Then, when they are free from fear of the pool, they should learn to dive, and only later, or from the age of five, a child should learn techniques of swimming with the use of adequate swimming equipment intended for certain swimming techniques.

Swimming is a natural and massive activity, appealing to all ages, and it is beneficial to human health is multifaceted. It, as well as its techniques (butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and crawl) can be learned at any age, especially today when training centers and swimming schools are organized all over the towns. But it is best when swimming is learnt in childhood and when children are young, even as they are beginning to get used to the beneficial effects of the water. Then the adoption of the movements and actions are best and have a lasting value, and the children most easily learn the proper technique of moving the arms and legs through the air and water. This period is related to the age of pre-school and younger school age up to the 4th school class.

Training is one of the most important stages in preparing top-class swimmers for competitions and achieving an adequate or desired results. Even very talented swimmers need years of well-designed training to achieve the planned results. Their results achievements are the result of programs designed to gradually train those physical properties that are dominant in achieving desired or maximum competitive achievements in the function of technique or discipline of swimming (Olbrecht, 2000; Sweetenham & Atkinson, 2003).

Tearms of swimming

Sport swimming is one of the cyclic, monostructural sports in which relatively simple movements dominate according to their shape and mode (Dimitrić, 2014), which are constantly the same and alternately repeated during swimming of a certain technique. Every single movement, or stroke with a hand or a kick, is on the other hand, a complex and composite entity for itself, which in the function of one cycle of stroke (stroke with left and right hand in crawl or back technique, both sides and at the same time make stroke with the breaststroke or butterfly technique) implies an alternate and harmonic connection of the work (strokes) of the arm and the work (kickings) of the leg into one corresponding matching swimming rhythm. This complex motor structure in the function of motion requires from swimmers a high level of coordination capabilities, and especially emphasized developed kinesthetic feelings, movements through water, or so called. good ‘catch’ of water, because under the float we mean the ability of a body to be maintained on the surface of the water.

The movement of the body through the water is done by the work of the arm and the leg and is best explained by the third Newton’s law of action and reaction. If the hand moves backward, the body moves forward, and if the water is pushed down, the body will move upwards.

Anyone who starts to practice swimming should be familiar with the basic principles on the basis of which it is possible to swim more rationally and efficiently. All modern schooling methods use the basis of training for non-swimmers to keep theirself on the water, taking on various body positions (vertical, hardened, horizontal). In this way, non-swimmers already meets with the laws of hydromechanics with their first water entrances. They will feel that they are lighter than water, they will feel that their legs are slightly harder and sinks, they will feel that their body after a deep breath can float on the surface of the water, etc. This phenomenon is most easily explained by the specific weight that represents the relationship between body weight and the amount of water released – Archimedes law which is possessed by every matter and every body (this principle and law is important for constructioning swimming equipment, both for the training of swimming techniques, as well as in the conditioning preparation of swimmers ).

If the specific weight of the body that is placed on the surface of the water is less than the specific weight of the water, this body will float on the surface of the water, and if the specific weight of this body is greater, the body will sink. In general, the human body has a lower specific weight than the water, and is therefore capable of floating on the surface of the water.

In addition to the specific weights of the body, the weight of the gravity (Fa) is equal to the weight of the body, which direction is always faced down and opposite to it is the lift force (Fp) which is equal to the weight of the displaced fluid and the direction is always up.

Depending on the size of these forces, three situations of buoyancy can be obtained:

  • if the lift force of thrust is less than the force of gravity – the body is sinks,
  • if the lift force of the thrust is of the same strength as the gravity – the body is in the neutral position,
  • if the lift force is larger than the heavier force – the body will float on the surface of the water.

The effect of force on the body of the swimmer in the water

In recreational or competitional swimming, strokes represent the basic unit of movement in swimming. Each stroke has a phase of beneficial effect or propulsion during which a pulling force is generated, the resultant of which, as well as the lift force and pressure, depends on the efficiency of the individual stroke and the phase of the return action or retropulsion, when the strokes returns and prepare for a new cycle. Movements during swimming should be exclusively in the function of the straight line movement of the swimmer’s body.

During strokes it is important that the palm with constant acceleration resists to water mass. If the stroke is too fast, it will be short and empty, and if it is slow it will needs more water pressure. The most important role in the propulsion phase of the stroke have a palm and elbow.

The role of palm is so important for the following reasons (Jevtic, 2011):

  • it first enters the water and is the last one to leaves it,
  • is set to constantly performs propulsion,
  • controls the ‘caught’ water,
  • always moving through water that is not in motion,
  • other movements are subordinate to the palm (legs, body, breathing).

Elbow is very important in the propulsion phase of the “S” stroke due to the action of larger amounts of water and the longer acting force on the affected mass of water that should not move.

Like the work of the hand, the role of the legs (foot) is not less important during swimming. The greatest role played by leg (feet) is stabilizing the body and creating the force of lift. The role is greater with breaststroke and butterfly technique, while in the back and crawl it is more reduced to the role of the body’s stabilizer.

With the breaststroke technique in the propulsion stage, the basic part of the stroke coincides with the catching the watter under the body while the retropulsion phase is the period when the hands after the casting return through the water to the forward.

The correctness of the performance and movement is the dominant characteristic that defines the efficiency of swimming of the top swimmers in comparison to those who are not, while the other four factors can contribute to the swimmer achieving a high quality sports result, but they themselves can not provide a superior (champion) sports result if technique (swimming) is not at the top level. Movements for swimming activity must be well and properly learned and trained. This represents the first stage in increasing the efficiency of swimming. In swimming, this is called mastering technique, while in other areas it is called mastering basic skills. Those swimmers who have not adopted the swimming technique qualitatively, the training work on the development of physical abilities or fitness that has a smaller effect in terms of improving the competitive result. By observations of swimmers during swimming You can or can not detect errors in technique (Okičić et al., 2005).

Today’s swimming is based on biomechanical models of the swimming technique from the world’s most successful swimmers. However, these models represent a general technical form, as well as a general pattern in the function of training methods of a particular swimming technique. But, it must be emphasized that during the course of the training, it is necessary to take into account the peculiarly specifics that individuals have. These specifics relate to anatomical, morphological, functional, physical, psychological … etc. characteristics, where the specific performance of a particular swimming technique or element of the technique will be defined as its own swimming style with that swimmer. This characteristic style should not be changed, only if the individual uses his style to be more competitive than other swimmers, while in the opposite case, this style should be treated as a technical mistake, which must be eliminated.

The result of swimming depends on five basic factors. Thefollowing factors are (Ahmetović, 2010):

  • the correctness of the movement (swimming techniques),
  • energy skills,
  • contractile properties of muscles,
  • joint mobility
  • and tactics.

When you master the basic swimming techniques (even only one of them), swimming as a sport or just as a recreation will become more  appealing to You. You will feel all the magic that it provides. Try and you will not regret, we promise!

Milorad Jakšić

🇬🇧 Graduated professor of physical education and sports, swimmer and Assistant at the Faculty of Sport and Physical Education.

🇷🇸 Diplоmirаni prоfеsоr fizičkоg vаspitаnjа i spоrtа, plivač i asistent na fakultetu za sport i fizičko vaspitanje.

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