Seriously, when is the last time you saw anyone trying to get somewhere in the water use anything but the Australian crawl? Look at triathlons. Butterfly? Backstroke? Not when you're in a hurry. If the Olympics tried to make their swimming contests resemble what people really do, they'd have the different distances and relays and make them all freestyle--use whatever you choose.
When they mandate a particular stroke, be honest and admit it's because they think these alternate strokes are...pretty. OK--then in such races, score them on how aesthetically the swimmers do that stroke, same as you would in artistic gymnastics.
Otherwise define the distance and leave it up to the swimmer how he covers it.,
Ironically the two strokes most used in the real world besides the Australian crawl are the side stroke and what you do with swim fins.
People use the sidestroke to conserve energy and when it's useful to keep your head out of the water.
Finning is extraordinarily common. The Olympics should replace their goofy not-used-in-real-life strokes with races of different distances where the athletes were allowed to use fins/mask/snorkel. What possible reason could they have to exclude this? After all, besides running events we have bicycling events. A bicycle is exactly the same kettle of fish as swimming with fins. This should be a no-brainer, and it would be exciting to watch, because with fins you can really haul.
And while I'm at it, I'd love to see races on scuba. We now have the technology to show what's going on underwater, so it would look great on TV...not so much in a stadium. So you'd do it in the ocean, around a marked course. It's a serious challenge to make speed while encumbered with scuba gear. But again this is something real people really do in the real world, but since it isn't a live spectator thing I wouldn't push for it as seriously as snorkeling.
Another argument in favor of the snorkeling event is that it might well favor a different body type than what you see for most swimming events (a bit less so for the longest distances), since the major source of propulsion moves to the legs.
While I'm at it what's with the rowing stuff? Those boats are made to move in a straight line--they're hyper-specialized, and really divorced from real-world rowing.
So how about making the rowing events around a course, with turns in both directions--even a set of esses like you'd see in road racing for cars? I'd find that far more interesting to watch. I mean, what if the kayak races went down an arrow-straight course? No one would put up with that.
The closer Olympics sports map to the real world, the better it will be for attendance and support, sez me.