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Swimming: Sidestroke form

Since I found the standards shown below for swimming the sidestroke, my laps have gotten a lot faster. I found this chart at, but this link was dead last time I tried it.

Component Level IV Level V Level VI
Body Position / Motion   Side-lying position

Some rolling of hips

Head position may vary

Torso may bend

Body nearly parallel to surface

Body roll not acceptable

Lower ear remains in water

Torso straight throughout stroke

Arms   Hands may break surface

Elbow of trailing arm remains close to body throughout stroke

Trailing arm recovers beyond shoulders

Power phase of trailing arm might not end at hip

Dropped elbow of leading arm acceptable

Leading arm may pull past upper chest

Hands below surface

Trailing arm recovers no higher than shoulder of leading arm

Power phase of trailing arm ends at hip

Dropped elbow of leading arm not acceptable

Leading arm pull ends at upper chest

Kick Both knees bent during recovery

Legs separate when the knees bend

Occasional breaststroke kick acceptable

Foot positions may vary

Knees and hips bend, pulling heels toward buttocks

Legs separate after knees bend

Lower leg may drop after recovery

Inverted scissors kick acceptable

Foot of back leg is pointed

Ankle of forward leg is flexed

Both legs remain parallel to the surface during all movements

Inverted scissors kick not acceptable

Foot of bottom leg is pointed

Ankle of top leg is flexed

Breathing / Timing   Any breathing pattern acceptable

Arms must alternate

Minimal glide acceptable

Inhale as legs recover, exhale during power phase

Leading pulls while trailing arm and both legs recover

Leading arm recovers as legs and trailing arm apply power

Glide is maintained until momentum slows

See also: Shipman's health and fitness page
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John W. Shipman,
Last updated: 2002/10/28 05:47:18