The Trudgen Swim Stroke

While taking your kids to the pool you might have noticed that there are some main swimming strokes instructors focus on. While you might only be familiar with the four main competitive strokes, it’s important to learn about some of the history of swimming with strokes like the trudgen. The stroke is named after the swimmer, John Trudgen, who made the stroke famous. It’s a hybrid stroke that allows you to breathe throughout the movement. While it isn’t one of the four major strokes, it is one of the eight different swimming styles that you should learn to become a well-rounded swimmer. 

How to Swim the Trudgen Stroke

The trudgen swim stroke is a mix between the sidestroke and freestyle. Utilizing sidestroke’s scissor kicks and freestyle’s arm motion, you get a full-body workout.


The kick for the trudgen is a sidestroke scissor kick. If you don’t know the sidestroke, or are unfamiliar with the scissor kick, it all comes back to the name—and with your legs acting like a giant pair of scissors. 

To practice this kick, float on your side. One shoulder should be above the water while the other is submerged under you. If you can’t float like this, consider using a kickboard to support your arms and upper body, or an aquatic dumbbell under your armpits to give you extra buoyancy.

Once you are floating on your side, extend one leg in front of you, and the other behind you. Once your legs are pulled apart from each other, quickly pull them together. The movement of your legs should propel you forward. 

Some people prefer their top leg to go in front of them, while others prefer their top leg to go behind them. Try both ways to see which way is most comfortable for you. Also, try to see which side you are more comfortable floating on. You will find that one side is easier to float and kick on than the other, and that is normal.

Practice the scissors kick with support from a kickboard or buoy until you are comfortable with it. While your arms will help you move in the water, a major force in the trudgen stroke comes from your legs, so it is important to make sure you get the most power you can out of your kick. 


Your arms are going to move like you are swimming freestyle. Just like when you learn freestyle, you try to avoid large windmill arms that travel in circles, the same goes for the trudgen stroke. 

If you are having difficulty with breaking the habit of straight windmill arms, consider practicing with a pull buoy and doing fingertip drag drills. The pull buoy will go between your legs to keep your legs afloat so you can focus on your arm movements. During the drill, when your arms are recovering out of the water, drag your fingertips across the surface of the water instead of swinging them straight out and in front of you. This will force your arms to have high elbows without having straight arms throughout your pull. 


The trudgen requires no breathing training. Your head should be out of the water at all times. Breathe regularly as you swim and as you need it. 

Putting It All Together

For each scissors kick, pull with one arm. It should be one kick for your right arm pull, and then another kick for your left arm pull. 

If you are having trouble making your kick and arms work together, make sure that your core is twisting. Your body will not be straight, and you will have to twist so that your legs are able to do a full scissors kick while staying underwater and keeping your head above water. 


Some use a slight variation when swimming the trudgen. Instead of using a sidestroke scissors kick, they straighten their hips to take the twist out of the stroke and use a breaststroke frog kick instead. 

If you’re having a hard time learning the trudgen swim stroke on your own or would like your child to increase their swimming skills, contact us and schedule an appointment. Our teachers are able to help you and your children feel comfortable in the water and improve your swimming and water safety.