How to Improve Your Breaststroke Pull with Olympian Mike Alexandrov

Michael Butler
Written by
Last update:

The Out-Sweep .

Alexandrov says that the key to his breaststroke is his out-sweep. He has been perfecting the out-sweep since learning the skill from his father, a long-time coach. To execute, keep your body in a straight line as you pull yourself out to the side. This requires your hips to twist less than other swimmers.

This also means that your hips should be aligned with your ears in the water. It’s important to make this line as straight as possible to maximize propulsion.

The most common mistake that Alexandrov sees in breaststroke pull is the lack of space between the hips and shoulders. To avoid this, he suggests beginning by aligning your hips as you pull out to the side and then turning your torso slightly as you complete the stroke all the way through. Also, be sure to finish with your sternum and shoulders touching the water.

Another mistake that breaststroke swimmers make is not pulling from the hips. Alexandrov says that it’s important to think about keeping the chest close to the water during the pull.

The Corner Drill .

One of the biggest points of improvement for swimmers is the pull off the wall, known as the FAST pull. “FAST” stands for feeling, alignment, acceleration, timing, and strength.

When you take your first stroke off the wall in the breaststroke, there’s more than just the pull that should be fast. You need to also have a fast entry to the water and a steady rhythm to ensure you relax your back and kick at the surface to get the most out of your stroke. That’s why the corner drill is one of my favorite drills, which you can use to practice all aspects of a fast pull.

To do this drill, you’ll need a short course wall where you can get underwater. On your first stroke off the wall, you’ll have a proper entry and will be able to focus on the pull in the water. The next time, try to eliminate the splash from the entry, which will smooth the water at the surface and allow you to hit the wall with force. The next time, focus on getting a smooth entry and accelerating into the wall with a steady rhythm.

The Arm Recovery (and Kick) .

The four strokes in swimming – the freestyle, butterfly, backstroke and breaststroke – are really four different motions that address different muscle groups. The breaststroke is really a hybrid movement that requires a balance between gliding with the arms and legs and stroking with the arms and pulling with the legs.

The breaststroke pull is unique in that the arm recovery is part of the stroke. The goal of the arm recovery is to get both arms into position for the next stroke, lower the shoulders and the head, and align the body for the next stroke (the gliding motion of the breaststroke). A good breaststroke pull will also help make the breaststroke a more aerobic stroke, which means more sustainable energy output.

It’s important to note that a lot of the glide is done while the arms are still in front of the body. You move the arms forward and kick the legs only as much as you have to in order to get both the arms and the legs deep into the water. Once you get both arms deep into the water, you settle up on top of the water when you glide, with your arms out in front of you. The arms are used to guide your body and to stroke the water.

It’s important to have two motions going on at the same time, so learn to isolate the arm recovery while you kick.

More Breaststroke Awesomeness:

The Breaststroke Start:

The Breaststroke Start Drill:

The Move to the Edge Drill:

The Connect With Your Hands Drill:

The Breaststroke Pull: