Ive read that the preferred swimming style for the US Navy soldiers is the sidestroke. What are the benefits of the sidestroke that make it the preferred style?
The basic sidestroke is a swimming technique that is good for long distance swimming.1
The sidestroke allows the swimmer increased endurance because, instead of working both arms and legs simultaneously in the same way, the side stroke uses them simultaneously but differently
The US Navy combined elements of freestyle, sidestroke and breaststroke to develop the Combat Sidestroke. It can be used with or without flippers, the swimmer only has to use a flutter kick instead of a scissor kick.2.
The combat side stroke allows the swimmer to swim more efficiently and reduce the body's profile in the water in order to be less likely to be seen during combat operations if surface swimming is required.
I think especially the low profile and the high distances you can cover swimming with this style are the main reasons the US Navy seals adopted the side stroke and developed their own versions.
The sidestroke is used in open waters to navigate and not get sick. It is not the most efficient method of movement in water by far. However when you are swimming in salt water you have to keep the water out of your mouth. The backstroke is about the worst at this and other styles are not as bad but entail bobbing your head in and out of water. There are a lot of reasons the NAVY teaches this but keep your head a little tilted to the water and a little out of the water is just common sense. Getting a technique that revolves around that is just taking that given and trying to do the best with it. I am positive that if a NAVY seal had a shark coming at him from 100 feet he isn't sidestroking to the boat!