How The Arm Movement In The Backstroke Swimming Style Goes

Each of the different swimming styles has known advantage and disadvantage. In the case of backstroke, the advantage is that the swimmer is able to breathe easily, while its disadvantage is that the swimmer is not able to see where he is going. And of the different swimming competitions, the backstroke competition is the only one that starts in the water.

A backstroke competition begins with the swimmers seen in the following position: they lie flat on their back, arms (and the fingers) extended, and legs stretched backwards.

The forward movement of the body in backstroke is due mainly to the stroke of the arms, which has two phases. The first phase is called the "power phase" and the second is called the "recovery phase." A full arm cycle is made once the arms complete an alternating turn. In this alternating turn, one arm is submerged as the other is recovering.

From the starting position described above, one arm goes partly underwater with the palm turned outward. The hand then enters the water downward (little finger first), and then pulls out at an angle of about 45 degrees. From here, the hand makes a circling motion all the way to the hip's side.

All throughout, the palm should be facing opposite the direction of the swim, though it must remain straight to serve as the arm's extension. The elbow, on the other hand, should always be pointing downward (towards the pool's bottom). These coordinated actions are necessary in order that the arms and elbows are able to push the greatest volume of water possible back to help in the body's forward motion.

Within the power phase of the arm's stroke is a sub-phase called "mid-pull." This occurs at the level of the shoulders, when the lower and upper arms appear to form a right angle. This sub-phase, in turn, has the palm forcefully pushing down, and with the fingers pointing upward. The purpose here is the same: push the body forward against the water.

At the end of this sub-phase, the palm loosely beats down to begin a final forward push down to as deep as about half a meter. This is the end of the power phase. This particular movement helps prepare the body to roll back to the other side. Also to increase the hand's resistance in the water because of the turbulence, the fingers can be somewhat apart during the power phase.

In initiating the recovery phase, the swimmer turns his hand, such that the palm points toward the legs and the side of the thumb points upward. As mentioned earlier, the start of the recovery phase of one arm coincides with the beginning of the power phase of the other.

The arm in the recovery phase is moved to the front, over the shoulder, in a semi-circular motion. Also during this phase, the palm turns in a way that the hand enters the water with the little finger first, so that water resistance is minimal; the palm, at this point, points upward.

After a brief gliding interval, the arms proceed anew with the alternating power/recovery phase cycle.

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