Can You Swim Backstroke In A Freestyle Race?

Last Updated on August 1st, 2023

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If you can swim faster with a backstroke than a freestyle technique, then it would make sense to use that form if caught in a freestyle race.

The meaning behind a ‘freestyle’ race is to leave the swimmer the ability to choose a technique in which they personally swim the fastest.

For those just participating and not attempting to win, the backstroke is a leisurely way to complete the required laps for the race.

However, if you are attempting to compete and win the race, the only option will be to develop a freestyle technique that delivers top speeds and fast times.

Woman swimming wearing red swim suit - Can You Swim Backstroke In A Freestyle Race?

Are Backstroke and Freestyle the Same?

There are going to be subtle differences between these two swimming techniques, the similarities being the kick and arm movements required to execute each stroke in the water.

The freestyle will have a swimmer facing forward, thrusting the arms in front of them one at a time (similar to track running form), kicking vigorously to get the fastest speeds possible.

The backstroke is like its name suggests. It is done with the back of the swimmer facing the bottom of the pool, opposite of all other swimming techniques.

This is the primary difference between the two swimming styles, besides the breathing practices utilized by collegiate and Olympic competitors.


Woman swimming wearing red swim suit - Can You Swim Backstroke In A Freestyle Race?


Which Swimming Styles are Allowed in Freestyle Races?

As mentioned earlier in the article, the reason for the wording ‘freestyle’ is to indicate to the individual competitor that they are welcome to use any swimming technique they so choose.

Some casual racers will be happy to complete the race, and any swimming style will be suitable.

As for those looking to compete at the highest levels, there is only going to be one suitable form to be utilized, and that is the Freestyle technique. This is by far the fastest of human swimming techniques, making it the only proper form available in a freestyle race.


Which is Faster, Freestyle or Backstroke?

Out of all the swimming styles, the backstroke is quicker than most of them, including the breaststroke and butterfly. However, the freestyle form will be the fastest technique available to the athlete, especially for the person swimming away from a dangerous situation.

As can be seen in the grammar school meets, at the collegiate level, all the way up to the professionals and Olympians, the freestyle technique is by far the fastest style available to swimmers, just take a look at the times put on the board by the athletes.


Is Freestyle Harder than Backstroke?

There are going to be some that learn to swim differently than most of us, but for many, the first swimming stroke learned is the freestyle.

Like most of the other swimming strokes, the person is oriented with their back facing up towards the sky, eyes forward, and towards the bottom of the body of water.

The backstroke can be challenging to learn, especially for those that get motion sickness, because learning to stay oriented with the back down and face up is counter to all other swimming techniques.

Many experience a sense of vertigo, which can unnerve the best athlete.


Which Swimming Stroke is Healthier?

The health benefits of both strokes will have a minimal difference between them, meaning that both offer the same level of exercise as the other. Truth be told, just getting into the pool and doing the laps to get the work in is where the benefits come from.

There is really no difference as to which stroke is healthier, and each consumes a similar amount of calories when compared in a nutritional sense.

There is going to be a higher level of calories burnt from the breaststroke and butterfly when compared to the backstroke and freestyle.


Final Thoughts on Can you Swim Backstroke in a Freestyle Race

When racing, in amateur races and low-level races, there are going to be some swimmers that will beat everyone in a freestyle using a backstroke. Of course, those people should be competing in higher-level races, but who are we to control another being and judge?

The simple fact is that the freestyle stroke has been proven over thousands of years to be the fastest means of swimming for humanity.

On the other hand, the backstroke, though used for racing competitions, is better utilized for keeping someone’s face above water when injured or fatigued in a survival situation.

A swimmer must decide what they are swimming for, speed or leisure, and go forward accordingly.