Backstroke as in a type of stroke in swimming.
The second type of stroke in the Medley Relay and the leading stroke in the Individual Medley Relay.
Here comes a lengthy explanation of the stroke. Short of getting in the water, and swimming for 25 hours a week with a coach, there is no other way to get this right.
The swimmer is face up, with body level, just below the surface of the water. The face, not including the ears, is above the water level. The swimmer keeps his/her back straight, like an arrow. The myth is that since its called backstroke the swimmer is on their back. That is not true, most of the time is spent on the side, only a fraction of the stroke is done on the back.
The idea for the position of the head, is to provide minimum water resistance while being able to breathe. This may be done ideally under the water, but that complicates the rest of the stroke, and makes it hard to breathe. Generally, the head is back so the water hits the top of the head, possibly flowing over the face, that is not a problem, however. During the stroke, the body twists, but the head stays still. This may be a strain on some inexperienced swimmers, but overtime, its gets easier.
The Stroke and The Pull
The stroke starts out on the side, one arm is fully extended below the swimmer, towards the other side of the pool, palm facing as much down as possible. The other arm is at the swimmers side, just below the water, palm towards the body, thumb facing up, shoulder out of the water.
This follows the same windmill concept as in freestyle stroke. The arms rotate around the body, being lead by the shoulders of the swimmer, but the head does not move.
The shoulders alternate coming out of the water with each stroke. The shoulder is the first bodypart to breach the water surface after each pull. The rest of the body follows the shoulders in their relation to the water. Literally, the body rotates back and forth around its axis, the spine.
The hand that is extended above the head, begins the stroke by pressing down, towards the bottom of the pool, and then continues on a sweeping motion, down the side of the body a foot or so below the water surface, bending the elbow. The middle of the stroke should look something like this: the upper arm almost inline with the body, and the forearm is extended away from the body, pressing the water down to the swimmer's feet. The stroke is completed when the forearm rotates, and continues to press the water down until is fully extended down the side of the swimmer, assuming the position of the recovery arm.
also, during all thing, the body is rotating, as the stroke arm is reaching the point until there is no more upper arm left to use, and is rotating the forearm.
The idea of the reach, is to be able to put the recovery hand as far up above the had as possible, in order to be able to pull thought as much water as possible, thus providing maximum force.
The recovery is simple. Shoulder of the recovery arm exits the water first, followed by the arm that is down the side of the body. It is lifted out of the water, thumb exits first. When the arm reaches the apex of its arc, the wrist, and the forearm is rotated. The shoulders also rotate during this maneuver. The recovery is completed when the arm is above the head, at which point the swimmer is ready to flip over, so the shoulder of the recovery arm is going to be on the bottom. At this point, the pinky enters the water followed by the rest on the fingers, and the arm assumes the stroke arm position.
Nothing complicated, breathe anytime you like, but make sure not to breathe in any water, otherwise you might choke and drown.
Same as in freestyle. Modified scissors kick. The legs follow the hips, which follow the body. Knees stay straight, for maximum effect, and the feet never leave the water during the stroke.
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for there are too many different categories to be listed here.
Note There's is no right way to swim, everybody has their own way, and each one is unique to that person. Everybody does what they're most comfortable with, going as fast as they can. There is no way to be a good swimmer, short of doing it for a while. The only way to become good at something, is repetition. This also applies to swimming. The only way to get good, is to do 6-8 thousand yards a practice 7-11 times a week. This writeup is only a brief description of the stroke.