Backstroke from Andrea Morgan on Vimeo

This video shows a 50-yard backstroke swim. For isolation of a block start or backstroke turn, go to the starts page or the turns page.

The Backstroke

The backstroke, sometimes called the "back crawl," is the only FINA-regulated stroke swum face up. Position yourself so that, while floating on your back, your legs and arms are in line with your body at the surface of the water.


Start with both arms extended and your hands pressed together at the palms. Leave one arm in this position while you cup the other hand, turning your palm out and pulling the corresponding arm down by your side. Turn your extended arm so that your palm faces out. Loosely cup the hand of your extended arm. Push your hand down into the water and pull it down alongside your body. Meanwhile, raise the arm by your side into the extended position. Repeat the motion for the length of the pool while kicking.


While on your back, extend your legs so that they are flat on the surface of the water. Poin your toes. Relax your knees so that they bend slightly. Now, powering your movements from your hips, kick one leg down and then the other, alternating upward and downward movements. This is called a flutter kick, and is the same kick used in the front crawl or freestyle.