The breaststroke is without a doubt one of the most popular swimming strokes. In fact, many recreational swimmers are perfectly happy using this swimming stroke all the time.
Because it is so popular, we consider it as one of the basic swimming strokes.
The breaststroke is swum in a prone position.
Both arms move synchronously and execute short, half-circular movements underwater. The legs also move synchronously and execute a whip kick.
Here’s a swimmer who demonstrates this technique:
How To Swim Breaststroke: Overview
Let’s now take a brief look at the different phases that occur during one breaststroke cycle:
1) In the initial position, you float in a horizontal position on your chest. Your arms are held together and extended forward, palms facing down.
Your head is in line with your trunk, and you look down. Your legs are held together, and your feet are pointed.
2) Now the active phase of the arms begins. Your palms turn outwards, your arms move apart and your body moves into a Y-like position.
3) When your arms are outside of your shoulders, your elbows flex and your hands continue to move back, but also downwards.
4) Once your hands have moved past your shoulders, they move back and inward, until they meet in front of your chest (insweep). This is the propulsive phase of the armstroke.
5) As your hands move towards each other, your head and shoulders rise above the water. Your knees flex, and your feet start to recover towards your buttocks.
6) Your upper body is at its highest point when your hands meet in front of your chest. Your arms start to move forward immediately for the recovery, while your feet continue to move towards your buttocks.
7) As your arms recover forward, your legs end their recovery with the feet being close to the buttocks.
8) Now the propulsive phase of the legs begins. Your feet kick back and apart while your arms extend completely under water, and your chest and head drop back into the water.
9) Once your legs are completely extended, they are brought together. You then glide for a short while into this position.
10) You start a new breaststroke cycle once the momentum of the glide fades.
Breaststroke Technique in Detail
The following articles describe the breaststroke technique in more detail:
Head and Body Positions: This article describes how you should position your head and body while swimming breaststroke.
This is important if you want to develop an efficient swim stroke but also if you want to avoid neck injuries.
Breaststroke Arm Movements: This article describes the arm movements in more detail. A slow-motion video of correct arm movements is shown and various arm speeds are discussed.
The Breaststroke Kick: This article covers the breaststroke’s whip kick. The different phases of the kick are explained and illustrated with a slow-motion video. Additional tips to learn the breaststroke kick are given.
Breaststroke Swimming and Breathing: This article explains how and when to breathe while swimming breaststroke.
It covers both the style where the head is submerged in each stroke cycle and the style where the head is kept above water at all times.
Learning to Swim Breaststroke
Learn Swimming Breaststroke gives an overview of our swimming lessons to learn the breaststroke. The following steps are proposed:
In the beginning, the arm movements, leg movements, and breathing exercises are practiced individually on dry land.
After this, the different movements are practiced separately in the water, using pull buoys and water noodles to provide additional buoyancy.
Subsequently, all movements of the swim stroke are practiced at the same time in the water, again using swim noodles and pull buoys.
Finally, once you feel confident enough you graduate to swimming breaststroke without swimming aids.