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Backstroke Swimming Drills – Underwater Arm Sweeps

Underwater Arm Sweeps is the next one of our swimming drills to learn to swim backstroke.

This particular drill lets you practice both balance and the underwater movements of the arm stroke.

A novice swimmer who practices an underwater arm sweep drill for the backstroke.

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 the arm movements to your stroke.

For now, to keep things simple, you’ll only move one arm at a time and also only practice the underwater portion of the arm stroke.

Video Demonstration

The video below illustrates this swimming drill:

Swimming Drill Instructions

This drill is an extension of Hand-Lead Side Balance. So the beginning is 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 backward.
  • Start to push back against the water with your palm, and execute the propulsive underwater 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.

Additional Tips

Focus on both your balance and your underwater arm movements.

With each arm sweep, roll from one side to the other 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 your balance on the fly.

Try to keep your head still and the face parallel to the water surface.

Learning Path for the Backstroke

Below is an overview of our series of articles on learning the backstroke. Each article in this series contains one or more drills that have to be mastered. The current article is highlighted:

Once you have gone through all the steps of this learning path, you should be able to swim backstroke without any problems.

Good luck!