Today is June 18

Published 8:00 am Friday, June 18, 2021

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Expand swimming styles for increased safety and fun

Knowing how to swim is one of the most important tools a person can have in warm weather, when people are most inclined to go swimming in pools, lakes and oceans.

Swimming is a fun yet potentially dangerous activity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each day roughly 10 people die from unintentional drowning in the United States. That makes drowing the country’s fifth-leading cause of unintentional death.

Knowing how to swim is essential for people who plan to spend time in the water. Swimmers are urged to learn as many different swimming techniques as possible to strengthen muscles in their body and prevent fatigue in the water. The most common swimming styles include freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke, and butterfly stroke.


The freestyle, or front crawl, is a popular stroke among seasoned swimmers. When doing the freestyles, swimmers alternate their arm movements and a flutter kick to propel them through the water. People who need to reach a distressed swimmer or cross a body of water quickly rely on the freestyle to do so. Freestyle swimming offers a full-body workout as well.


The breaststroke originates with a sweep out of the arms from the breast and then back in to the starting position. A frog-like kick complements arm movements. The breaststroke is one of the first swimming strokes taught to beginners because individuals can keep their heads above the water. The breaststroke may be efficient, but it is slower than other swimming styles. The legs and back work hard when performing this stroke.


The backstroke is similar to the freestyle except the body is supine. The back gets an excellent workout during this stroke, which can help straighten and lengthen the spine. Physicians may even recommend the backstroke for those dealing with back pain.

Butterfly stroke

The butterfly tends to be a challenging stroke that can work the core and upper body while providing a great cardiovascular workout. When performing the butterfly, swimmers raise both arms above their head and then push down into the water to propel their bodies forward. The legs are positioned like a dolphin or a mermaid and will flap to kick down, states CureJoy, a health and wellness resource.

These strokes are used in swimming competitions and are widely taught at swim schools. The sidestroke is another style that only requires one arm and can be used in swimming rescues, which also can be handy to learn.

People new to swimming or who want to increase their skills can work with certified swimming instructors to learn proper swimming techniques.


Children are not invulnerable to stroke

Though it’s predominantly associated with adults, stroke does not discriminate based on age and can potentially affect children. The American Stroke Association® notes that, while stroke is most common among the elderly, strokes also occur in toddlers, children and teenagers. According to the ASA, signs of stroke are often missed in children and teens because of a general lack of awareness that stroke can affect them. That’s in spite of the fact that stroke is among the top 10 causes of death in children in the United States.

Learning to spot a stroke is vital for people of all ages, and parents of young children are no exception. The ASA has developed the acronym “F.A.S.T.” to help people remember the signs of stroke.

· F = Face drooping

· A = Arm weakness

· S = Speech difficulty

· T = Time to call 911 (the ASA advises anyone who recognizes any of the aforementioned symptoms in toddlers, children and teens to call 911 immediately)

Because many people are unaware that young children can suffer from stroke, it can be easy to assume symptoms of stroke are indicative of something else. But the ASA urges parents to recognize some additional warning signs of stroke in children, including:

· Sudden severe headache: These are especially concerning when accompanied by vomiting and sleepiness.

· Sudden numbness or weakness on one side of the body: Affected areas may include the face, arm and/or leg on the left or right side of the body.

· Sudden confusion, difficulty speaking or understanding others

· Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes

· Sudden difficulty with motor functions: Children may have trouble walking, suddenly feel dizzy, and/or experience a loss of balance or coordination.

· New onset of seizures, typically on one side of the body

Blood clots that form in the heart and travel to the brain are one potential cause of ischemic stroke in children. These issues may be a result of congenital heart problems, so it’s vital that parents of children born with such issues recognize the potential for their children to suffer strokes. In addition, the ASA notes that roughly 10 percent of children with sickle cell disease, which adversely affects the ability of blood cells to carry oxygen to the brain, suffer ischemic stroke. Children also may be vulnerable to hemorrhagic strokes, which are most often caused by rupturing, weakened or malformed arteries known as arteriovenous malformations. Hemorrhagic stroke risk is also higher among children who have hemophilia.

Though Johns Hopkins Medicine reports that pediatric stroke is a relatively rare condition, it’s one that parents should be aware of. That’s especially true for parents of children born with certain conditions. More information is available at