The first swimming stroke that got you moving through the water was the elementary backstroke. The second stroke wll be the Combat Side Stroke. The combat side stroke (CSS) will definitely get you moving through the water and with these 2 strokes you can swim many laps nice and easy.
The CSS allows you to feel how the water moves your body and also allows you to feel how the kicks and arm strokes control your rotation. With this new awareness, you can then move on to learning other strokes like the breast stroke, freestyle and back stroke.
Since this is the stroke the Navy Seals use, it is a functional stroke. Once learned, you can swim long distances without becoming too tired. They have created a 20 minute video walking you through the stroke, that you can download here.
Here’s a 5 minute clip of it, showing the combat side stroke. It’s not as difficult as it looks. Once you try it, you will see that the body picks it up fairly quickly. All functional exercises should, in theory, be that way.
photo credit: pool lanes