Tactical Fitness: Critiquing the Combat Swimmer Stroke

Executing a proper sidestroke in swimming
Limited Duty Officer/Chief Warrant Officer Academy (LDO/CWO) students, at Officer Training Command, Newport (OTCN) in Rhode Island, take the second-class swim test, Feb. 21, 2020. (Darwin Lam/U.S. Navy)

Hello, Stew,

Here is a clip of me swimming the sidestroke. I noticed that my timing might be incorrect for my breaths. This is a 25-meter pool.

That looks excellent. However, you should do the breaststroke pullout off the wall instead of kicking into a glide and going right into the stroke. See the three-part breakdown for the pullout sequence. Now you really just have to work on a few nitpicky items and get your conditioning so you can handle that pace for nine more laps.

When you kick, kick harder and keep your feet together during the glide portion. You could stand to glide a little longer, maybe one to two more seconds per kick, before you pull your top arm again. That will make you more efficient in the water and reduce your strokes per length.

Your breathing timing is fine. You want to inhale during your bottom-arm pull and exhale after you kick.

Take a look at this three-part breakdown of the combat swimmer stroke to see what I am talking about.

Military.com tactical fitness expert Stew Smith breaks down the combat swimmer stroke (CSS) in three strokes.

Keep it up, and you will have the CSS down within a few weeks.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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