Chapter Eleven-A~El. Bkstrk. Part One
The Home Pool


The Elementary Backstroke--Part 2

Progressions for Kick With Back Float

1--Review the Elementary Backstroke kick holding onto pool side from either prone or supine position as described in Chapter Eleven~A. Perform kick at least 5 X in succession.

2--In shallow water with back facing open pool perform tuck against pool wall as shown in Chapter Eleven~A and GENTLY straighten out legs. Be sure head is back and stomach is pushed up slightly in order to maintain the float.

3--Having a good float position, perform Elementary Backstroke KICK ONLY--arms remain at side of body.

4--Say, "UP, AROUND, TOGETHER, GLIDE," as you kick across width of pool. Practice kick in this manner until able to go at least twenty feet or across entire width maintaining good float position. (As cautioned previously, if it's necessary to swim lengths, have someone tap you before you accidentally move into deep water.)



When comfortable with the cadence or rhythm of the kick, proceed with the following tasks: (First practice without the kick until mastered.)

1--In a standing position, with arms at sides place palms against thighs.

2--Bend elbows while moving hands up along sides of body to mid-chest height.

3--Move arms straight out from both sides of body--hands pointing away from torso. (See illustration below.)

4--With a hard downward press, bring hands back down to thighs again.

5--Practice 1 through 4 at least 5 X or until performed smoothly and with ease.

6--Cadence for the armstroke: "UP, OUT, DOWN, GLIDE."


After mastering a smooth, but deliberate armstroke, perform a back float with the arm stroke. Do not yet practice with the kick.

1--At pool side perform tuck as before and straighten out into a back float.

2--With arms at sides and palms against thighs, begin the arm stroke by moving hands up sides to chest height.

3--Bring arms up, out, and away from body, then forcefully bring them down to thighs.

4--Glide until body slows and then then repeat the stroke. Perform float, stroke and glide at least 5 X or until mastered.

5--Perform float, stroke, glide consecutively, at least 5 full strokes or for at least 20 feet. DO NOT FORGET THE CADENCE: UP--OUT--DOWN--GLIDE!!



As you've probably guessed, the next step is putting the kick and arm movement together. Arms and legs must move at the same rate. The cadence for both together is similar. Beginning with the glide, it's "GLIDE; UP; OUT; TOGETHER; GLIDE....UP, OUT, TOGETHER, GLIDE...etc...

1--Start with a tuck against pool side. Straighten out and maintain a back float with arms at sides, legs straight and toes pointed. This is the GLIDE.

2--As you bring arms up sides, draw legs up at the same time.

3--As arms move out from body, legs form a circle with knees pointing inward, ankles lifted and toes pointing out from the body. Heels are lower than toes.

4--Push down hard with arms at same time as legs come back together.

5--Glide for about 3 seconds (or until body slows) with legs straight, toes pointed and arms against sides.

6--Repeat from # 2 through # 5 across pool width (or length if not deep.) until mastered.

NOTE: Because the Elementary Backstroke is a restful stroke, even those without much physical strength are able to swim it for long periods. Anyone who is unable to swim this stroke for less than ten or fifteen consecutive minutes is not performing it correctly.



1--Unable to maintain float with kick or stroke. This is a common problem when first putting the kick and arm stroke together. Your concentration is either on performing the kick or the stroke, therefore, it's easy to forget about pushing the tummy up and keeping the head back. Often, pupils bend forward at the waist or lift up their heads without realizing it. To remedy this, go back to the tuck position, push off side and practice maintaining a good float. Float to a count of 30, then do the KICK ONLY for at least 20 feet. If the float is maintained while doing the kick, then perform the STROKE ONLY for 20 or more feet. Do this several times across pool width, or the length in shallow water. Finally, perform the kick and arm stroke together for at least 20 feet.

2--Knees showing above water surface.This is quite common. Bending forward slightly at waist is the cause. Many cannot understand why this occurs if their head is back. But it's still possible to bend forward at the waist even when the neck is arched back. Concentrate on keeping upper body, especially the torso, straight and flat on the water's surface.

3--Remaining in one place, or having no backward progression.This is due either to ineffectual downward arm movements; or having little or no circles formed by the legs. It may also occur if legs are not going out and coming back together hard enough. Pupils may perform the moves perfectly but are merely letting the arms and legs "float" through the correct kicks or strokes. In swimming as in most sports, hard, strong and definite dynamics are essential to good performance. Sometimes ineffectual moves are due to aqua phobia. Water-Shy pupils are often reticent about performing strokes and kicks definitively while learning new swim moves. With practice, self confidence is gained and timidity gradually fades away. The important thing here is that pupils RECOGNIZE that they are holding back. After realizing this, those who are still "remaining in one place" should have an experienced swimmer or lifeguard watch them perform the Elementary Backstroke and to let them know if their kicks and arm strokes are moving correctly.


Chapter Twelve~Exercises
The Home Pool
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