Researched, produced, and prepared by Brent S. Rushall, Ph.D., R.Psy.


The following collage of sequences from some of the world's best backstrokers are presented as teaching aids in Dr. Rushall's Stroke Clinics. Each item is presented to show important features of the stroke that should be adapted to each individual's capabilities.

Krisztina Egerszegi at Barcelona

This demonstrates the attempt to immediately press backward. As soon as the hand is covered the wrist flexes and the elbow begins to bend. The upper arm medially rotates to get the equivalent of a crawl-stroke "elbows-up" position. Frame #11 shows the forearm/hand surface positioned to apply force backward. Frame #12 demonstrates upper arm adduction, which produces the energy for the propulsive force. In this stroke, and that of Martin Lopez-Zubero, there is no pressing down (supposedly to initiate an "s-shaped" pull) or outward press (that usually results from placing the hand in the water behind the head or even further across the body).

Brad Bridgewater at Atlanta

This sequence shows two things. The first is the streamline of the body with the hips as high as the shoulders and the head well back and down in the water. The second is the wide deep position of the latter part of the pull which sets the arm up to perform a deep inward scull that accelerates the arm and hand to exit from the water. This latter pulling action has no characteristics in common with the traditionally taught "S-shaped" pull. It keeps the force application closer to being parallel with the direction of travel and requires a "thumb first" exit.

Stev Theloke (1998) in New York

This illustrates the shoulder-hip roll that is required of modern swimmers. The maximum amount of roll is achieved just before the mid-pull (when the pulling hand's thumb is closest to the water surface). It also shows, as do all the sequences, the head well back in the water. There just is no place for swimming backstroke with the head elevated.

Martin Lopez-Zubero at Barcelona

In a manner similar to Krisztina Egerszegi, Frames #2 and #3 show the almost immediate positioning of the arm to apply force backward. As with Brad Bridgewater's sequence, the deep position of the pulling arm and the inward scull are obvious. Also, it is easier to see the thumb leading toward the arm's exit. Frame #1 also demonstrates the initial stroke length backward where the entering arm reaches directly down the pool, not across the body or behind the head.

All swimmers demonstrate a kick that drives backward and upward not solely upward.

Backstroke teaching aid

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