Under Water Arm Sweeps is is the next one of our swimming drills to learn to swim backstroke. This particular drill lets you practice both balance and the under water movements of the arm stroke. See the video below:

All the backstroke drills you practiced up to now focused on balance while using a flutter kick for propulsion. The arms always remained static. But now you’ll start to add arm movements to your stroke. To keep things simple you’ll only move one arm at a time and also only practice the under water portion of the arm stroke.

Swimming Drill Instructions

This drill is an extension of Hand-Lead Side Balance. So the beginning is exactly the same:

  • Go to the shallow area of the pool.
  • Lean on your back.
  • Start to flutter kick.
  • Get into a horizontal position on your back.
  • Roll on one of your sides.
  • Extend one arm overhead, keep the other arm at your side.

Once you are balanced and comfortable in that position, do the following:

  • Angle your wrist so that your palm is facing backwards.
  • Start to push backwards against the water with your palm, and execute the propulsive under water arm sweep.
  • Keep the other arm at your side.
  • Both arms should be at your sides once you have finished your arm sweep.
  • Now extend your other arm overhead, then execute the arm sweep with that arm, and so on.


  • Focus on both your balance and your under water arm movements.
  • With each arm sweep, roll from side to side like you learned to do in the Head-Lead Side Balance Drill.
  • As you roll from side to side and your weight shifts accordingly, you’ll need to adjust balance in a more dynamic fashion.
  • Try to keep your head still and the face parallel to the water surface.

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