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Learn Swimming Breaststroke – Arm Stroke Drills in the Water

This article to learn swimming breaststroke shows you how to practice the arm stroke in the water. This article is part of our series of swimming drills to learn the breaststroke.

A novice swimmer who practices the breaststroke arm movements while holding a pull buoy between his legs

As you can see in the video below, we use a pull buoy to learn the arm stroke movements.

The pull buoy gives your legs additional buoyancy so that you don’t have to kick and can focus on the arm stroke.

Video Demonstration

The following video demonstrates the drills covered in this article:

These swimming drills are explained in more detail below.

Perform arm stroke movements with a pull buoy, stopping to breathe

The first drill lets you practice the arm stroke movements, but you stop to breathe. Do the following:

  • Grab one or two pull buoy(s), depending on the support you need for your legs.
  • Go to the shallow area of the pool.
  • Place the pull buoy(s) between your thighs.
  • Push off the ground and assume a horizontal position with your arms extended forward, hands held close together.
  • Place your head in the water so that it is in line with your trunk and your body forms a straight line from head to toes. Use swimming goggles to keep the water out of your eyes.
  • Now execute the breaststroke arm movements as explained in learning the arm stroke movements on dry land. Concentrate on executing the different phases of the arm stroke correctly: outsweep, catch, insweep and recovery.
  • Pause for breathing after three arm stroke cycles, then resume.
  • Repeat this until you have internalized the arm movements and you can move forward with ease.

Perform arm stroke movements with a pull buoy, and integrate breathing

The next step to learn swimming breaststroke is to integrate breathing with the arm movements. So do the following:

  • Inhale deeply, push off the ground and assume a horizontal position like you did in the previous drill.
  • Start the arm movements.
  • Keep your face in the water and your head aligned with the spine during the recovery forward, outsweep and catch phases. Exhale continuously during those phases.
  • During the insweep phase, use the lift created while bringing your arms together to raise your head and shoulders above water. Inhale as soon as your mouth clears the water.
  • Note that your head should be kept in line with your spine to avoid straining your neck. So look down and slightly forward instead of looking towards the end of the pool.
  • Once your hands are close together below your chest, move your arms forward to start the recovery.
  • Your head and shoulders drop back in the water, and your body assumes its horizontal position again, starting a new cycle.
  • Start to exhale as soon as your head enters the water.
  • Repeat this drill until you can seamlessly integrate breathing with the arm stroke movements.


You are now one step further in your journey to learn swimming the breaststroke!

The last thing you need to practice is the coordination between arm movements, leg movements, and breathing. Well cover this in the next article of our breaststroke series.

Lots of fun while practicing!

Learning Path for the Breaststroke

Below is an overview of our series of articles on learning the breaststroke. Each article in this series contains one or more drills that have to be mastered. The current article is highlighted:

Once you have gone through all the steps of this learning path, you should be able to swim breaststroke without any problems.

Good luck!


Wednesday 27th of February 2019

Thank you for showing this drill. You have a great website!

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