Which swimming style is the hardest?

Swimming is a popular and well-known sport that has been a part of the Olympic Games since 1896. There are four main swimming styles that are typically used in competition: freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke, and butterfly. While each of these swimming styles has its unique challenges, many people consider one type to be the hardest. In this article, we’ll explore which swimming style is the most challenging and why.


Freestyle, also known as front crawl, is the most popular swimming style among both recreational and competitive swimmers. It involves alternating arm movements and a flutter kick, with the face submerged in the water. The freestyle stroke is generally considered to be the easiest of the four swimming styles, as it requires less energy and is more relaxed than the others. This stroke is also the fastest and most efficient, making it the go-to for long-distance swimming.


Breaststroke is a much slower and more controlled swimming style than freestyle. It requires swimmers to move their arms and legs simultaneously in a circular motion, with a glide in between each stroke. Many people find breaststroke to be the easiest stroke to learn, as it requires less coordination and energy than other styles. However, this stroke does require a great deal of technique and practice to master, particularly in the timing of the arm and leg movements.


Backstroke, or the back crawl, is similar to freestyle in that it involves alternating arm movements and a flutter kick. However, this style is performed on the back, with the face up and the arms above the head. Backstroke requires more coordination and balance than freestyle, as the swimmer cannot see where they are going and must rely on their feel for the water. Some swimmers also find backstroke to be more challenging due to the different arm and leg positions.


Butterfly is widely considered to be the most challenging of the four swimming styles. It requires a coordinated arm and leg movement, with the arms moving simultaneously above the head and the legs performing a dolphin kick. Butterfly is typically the slowest of the four styles, but it requires a great deal of strength and endurance to perform correctly. This stroke is also incredibly challenging because it requires a lot of core strength to maintain the correct body position.


While each swimming style has its unique challenges, butterfly is generally considered to be the hardest. It requires a high level of strength, endurance, and coordination, as well as the ability to maintain proper technique throughout the stroke. However, it’s worth noting that everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, and what one person finds easy, another may find challenging. Ultimately, the best way to determine which swimming style is the hardest for you is to try them all and see which one feels the most natural.

Table 1

Swimming Style Difficulty Level
Freestyle Easy
Breaststroke Moderate
Backstroke Moderate
Butterfly Difficult

Table 2

Swimming Style Speed Efficiency Endurance
Freestyle Fastest Most Efficient High
Breaststroke Slowest Moderately Efficient Low
Backstroke Fast Efficient Moderate
Butterfly Slow Least Efficient High