Swimming the Breaststroke: Tips For Doing It Right

Breast stroke is done on the front. There is no side to side movement, and both sides of the body need to be symmetrical. Failure to remain symmetrical could result in disqualification during a meet.

The fully straightened arms start directly in front of the head with the face in the water. (1) The hands begin to pull slightly outwards with the palms facing slightly outwards. The hands move outwards until they are slightly wider than the shoulders. At this point the hands should be pointed downwards along with the forearms - now the elbows will bend. In this position the hands and forearms should be pulling on the water. Once the arms are just under the chest the arm propulsion phase is completed. Now the arms squeeze together just under the chest. This helps the swimmer rise slightly so they can raise their head so they can inhale. (2) Immediately after the one breath the head should go back under the water (not too deep) and the arms should shoot in front of the head to the starting position.

For breast stroke the whip kick is used. The numbers below correspond to the numbers just above, to help you understand when the legs are kicking.

(1) At this point the legs should be starting the recovery phase where the feet are brought towards the buttocks, but under the water. (2) This is the moment when the legs begin their propulsion phase and push the swimmer forward as the arms are straightening. Once the arms and legs are straight there is a glide. In a race or a spring the glide will be shorter than during training. But beginners need to work on the glide to make sure the stroke is done correctly.

In breast stroke the arm propulsion phase is very short. In fact, the breast stroke relies heavily on a strong effective kick. Swimmer who can not master the whip kick are usually poor breast strokers.

Breaststroke is started from a dive. As the swimmer enters the water they will be fully streamlined. Once underwater they will pull with the arms pushing all the way down to the hips (they can only do this once). Then they will kick only once. After this they must surface and take a breath and start the full stroke. They must surface within 15 meters after diving or after a turn.

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