Beginner Swimming Techniques 

Learning to swim is an easier an easier process if you use variety of techniques to learn the basic crawl stroke in parts. Rather than trying to learn the whole stroke at once, practice floating, kicking, breathing and arm strokes one at a time. When you’ve learned all the parts of a basic swimming stroke, put them all together to create a safe, effective swimming technique.

Learn to swim one part at a time


The first technique beginners should learn is bobbing. This helps you understand the concept of buoyancy and how you float. Enter the shallow end of the pool, moving to chest-high water. Bend your knees slightly and place your arms straight out in front of you. Gently hop up and down, letting the water support you as your feet leave the floor of the pool. Bend your knees more to help you stay off the bottom of the pool longer. Place your hands on your knees or ankles to bob more. Submerge your head for several seconds at a time. Straighten your legs and stand up in the water anytime you feel nervous or out of control.

Dog Paddle

Once you can bob, try to stay afloat longer by moving your feet in a bicycle pedaling motion while pulling water towards you with your hands. Your hand movements should simulate pounding on the keys of a piano over and over.

Dead-Man’s Float

Once you are comfortable taking your feet off the bottom of the pool and submerging, practice floating for a longer time. Squat down in the water and place your hands on your knees. Bring your knees up to your chest and lean forward as your feet leave the floor. Relax and allow yourself to float. You will initially start to sink, but should bob back up. Gently raise your head out of the water to breathe. Tense muscles will cause you so sink, so stay near the side of the pool or with a partner to relieve any anxiety. Practice floating with your face out of the water by leaning backward, placing your arms on top of the water, parallel to the bottom, with your elbows bent. Keep your back arched and your head backward. Close your eyes and mouth if you initially submerge for several seconds; you will float back to the top.


Learn to kick while holding on to the side of the pool and a kickboard. Place your hands on the side of the pool and straighten your body, putting your face in the water as if you were swimming. Gently kick your legs with a slight bend in the knees. Kick as forcefully as you can while splashing as little water as possible. Use longer, powerful kicks instead of short, choppy ones. Practice this motion with a kickboard, moving parallel with the shallow end of the pool.


Learn to breath holding onto the side of the pool while you kick. Turn your head to one side, keeping your torso straight, raising one half of your mouth out of the water. Do not pull your head straight back and out of the water. Keep your head in the water, turning it sideways to breath. After you feel comfortable doing this while holding on to the side of the pool, practice with a kickboard.

The Crawl

The crawl is the basic stroke for beginners. Practice the arm stroke by extending your arms straight in front of you, then pulling them toward you with your palm pulling the water toward you as your arm travels toward your stomach, then past your hip. The motion is similar to reaching for an item on a high shelf, then putting it into your pocket.