View Full Version : Q; elementary backstroke

August 25th, 2003, 11:24 AM
Anybody have tips on the arm pull for the elementary backstroke? Especially for easing strain on the elbows? I've found that oulling with closed fists helps, but want to make sure I'm not making any technical errors.

I am back on crutches for my bad foot (old running injury), and so my other joints (esp. shoulders and opposite hip) are getting achy. Elem back is about all I can do for for a while.

Thanks for your help.

August 26th, 2003, 08:45 PM
hey ex, you're not alone. But, do us all a favor and use the term double arm backstroke, please. If you've been to many masters meets, you would have noticed that a healthy percentage of the older, wiser swimmers use this stroke. Records have been set from time to time, and there are many who are consistant top ten swimmers doing the double arm backstroke. Hoosiers, Dave Costill and Ann Champ are among them.

Closed fists are great for working out with any stroke, especially to keep from getting sore shoulders. You should find a loss of about ten percent in both time and stroke count economy. e.g. 20 would become 22, and 60 seconds would become 66.

At the moment I'm rehabilitating from a hip replacent, and don't know when I'll be in competition next. But don't be surprised if I turn up somewhere during the short course meter season. If you see me, stop and say "Howdy".

August 26th, 2003, 09:28 PM
I hope your hip rehab goes well.

Funny thing -- on the recommendation of a colleague, I got my hands on some kind of imported Asian medicinal patch that is supposed to be good for joint injuries. It's made from herbal extracts and is tough to apply: it has to be heated in steam, then pressed on while hot. (Ouch!) Days later I did a web search and found out that the active ingredients are precisely the same as those in BenGay Ultra Strength! Some ancient Chinese secret!!

August 26th, 2003, 10:06 PM
I am confused--elementary backstroke--the one where the arms do not come out of the water--kids learn this as "chicken, airplane, soldier". Double arm backstroke--arms are like regular back crawl stroke but both done together--arms out of the water?

August 26th, 2003, 10:44 PM
I am using the terminology from the book "Swimming for Total Fitness," by Dr. Jane Katz. There, the "elementary backstroke" means the legs do a whip kick (supine position, of course), while the arms pull symmetrically, recovering outside the water.

I recall that this used to be a competitive stroke in the Olympics (late 60s), but apparently it has yielded to the "windmill" style backstroke.

I find the elementary backstroke to be much easier, and less of a strain on the shoulders (esp, if the catch is made at the 45 degree position or less).

I was not familiar with the description "chicken, airplane, soldier". Very clever.

August 26th, 2003, 11:04 PM
Don't remember anyone doing the double arm backstroke in competiton in the late 1960's and I started back in 1969. Learn the single arm pull,so of course I don't do the double arm pull.

August 26th, 2003, 11:39 PM
I'm older than Cin and I wasn't taught the double arm pull either... I was however taught what you all are calling the elementary backstroke, but I think it was called the back breaststroke then... memory is the first thing to go


August 27th, 2003, 09:32 AM
Well, it must have been the 1968 (or 1972?) Olympics. My whole family used to watch all of the Olympic Games together. I was 7 years old at the time. I have a vivid recollection of seeing something like the elementary backstroke, except very vigorous and undulating -- like an inverted butterfly. Did this really happen, or have these pain-killers fried my memory circuits?

I also remember seeing Kohoutek (extra credit), and being very disappointed.

August 27th, 2003, 11:27 AM
In regards to elementary backstroke, this is based on the American Red Cross learn to swim program. Elemenatry backstroke, the arms stay in the water the entire stroke (as stated above chicken, airplane, soldier or monkey, T, rocket could be used to describe the armstroke). You start your stroke with the recovery phase, sliding your hands up along your side to your armpits (chicken or monkey), then you extend your arms straight out (airplane, T) next comes the power phase of the stroke where you sweep your arms down to your side (soldier,rocket). The kick is a breastroke kick timed closely to the arm pull - as you are sliding your hands up you draw your feet up (more like dropping your heels down, bending your knees not your hips/waist) as your hands extend outward you seperate your feet outward and as your hands are swept down you finish your kick by bringing your feet around and together for the power phase of the kick.
There is also an inverted breastroke which is similiar to the elementary backstroke. The two main differences is in the arm stroke, 1st the recovery is above the water (over your torso/head) and secondly your hands extend all the way forward above your head (the inverted breastroke is very close to breastroke, only you are swimming on your back instead of your stomach). Hope this helps.


August 27th, 2003, 07:41 PM
I was about 15 years old in 1972 and there might have been one foreign swimmer that use the double-backstroke. But in age group swimming it had disappeared by that time.

August 27th, 2003, 11:59 PM
I learned to swim in the early 60s, and I learned the elementary backstroke, as it is described by kaelonj and Janis in this post, but where I learned, it was called the back glide with frog kick. Swim lessons started with learning to float on back, sculling on back, then the elementary glides, including the back glide with frog kick and the side stroke with scissor kick.. at least this is how I think they were referred to at the pool where I learned.... After the elementary glides came the advanced strokes.

August 28th, 2003, 11:11 PM
The purpose of elementary backstroke is to learn the breaststroke (frog) kick...which is often easier for kids to learn on their back, before learning breaststroke.

As far as the arms, I've heard:
"Chicken, Airplane, Rocket" and
"Tickle, T, Snap!"

I think it could have it's place for swimmers that want to relax in the water or for injuries. But it's a bit of an awkward stroke for competitive swimmers (ie so much less efficient than breaststroke).