With different styles of faulting, the eastern Ionian Sea is an ideal natural laboratory to investigate interactions between adjacent faults during strong earthquakes. The 2018 6.8 Zakynthos earthquake, well recorded by broadband and strong‐motion networks, provides an opportunity to resolve such faulting complexity. Here, we focus on waveform inversion and backprojection of strong‐motion data, partly checked by coseismic Global Navigation Satellite System data. We show that the region is under subhorizontal southwest–northeast compression, enabling mixed thrust faulting and strike‐slip (SS) faulting. The 2018 mainshock consisted of two fault segments: a low‐dip thrust, and a dominant, moderate‐dip, right‐lateral SS, both in the crust. Slip vectors, oriented to southwest, are consistent with plate motion. The sequence can be explained in terms of trench‐orthogonal fractures in the subducting plate and reactivated faults in the upper plate. The 2018 event, and an 6.6 event of 1997, occurred near three localized swarms of 2016 and 2017. Future numerical models of the slab deformation and ocean‐bottom seismometer observations may illuminate possible relations among earthquakes, swarms, and fluid paths in the region.