Fast breaststrokers swim “downhill.”
When you swim breaststroke well, you’re essentially swimming downhill. The fastest way to swim is to let the water (gravity) pull the body backwards. This also helps to prevent feeling like you’re swimming uphill.
In other words, the main job of the arms is to stabilize the body as it’s moving backwards. The freestyle stroke (breaststroke is a form of freestyle) allows for more maneuverability and efficiency than the backstroke. However, you should be careful about letting your arms be overly active.
If you’re swimming in a pool, feel free to move your arms as much as you want. If you’re swimming in open water, be mindful of the people around you. Some people splash a lot, so avoid doing so. Just stretch out and swim with the arms in front and straight.
Swim with high hips.
Many swimmers, especially those who have struggled with the backstroke, struggle to get their hips up during the breaststroke. To let your hips be high above the water, you need to keep your legs high in the water.
Strive to always have your legs higher than your hips. If you try to touch your toes or feet to the wall when you’re practicing your stroke, you should be able to easily touch without having to lift your hips much above the water.
To keep your hips high, you can also visualize them floating above the water. Keeping your hips higher than your legs will also help you to catch more water with your hands and push with your hands, which will make your legs kick more powerfully in the water.
Many breaststroke swimmers also find that they move their hips up too much. This often leads to the generation of inefficient turbulence that slows the swimmer down.
The goal is to get your hips up, not to extend them as high as possible.
Power up your kick.
It’s easy to be in denial about your kick. That’s because the kick doesn’t use much energy and you can go a long time before you get a sense of how important it is to your breaststroke swim. The kick is where power comes from. What you may not realize is that every stroke you take is actually made up of two phases. The first phase is when the palm of your hand moves forward. The second phase starts when your palm starts moving backward, and that’s when the greatest power comes from your kick.
For breaststroke swims, you’re going to want to kick almost every stroke. At the beginning and end of your breaststroke swims, you can have one or two strokes without a kick. For extreme breaststroke speed, try kicking every single stroke.
If you’ve been swimming breaststroke without a kick for a long time, you may not have the right muscles for this. You may also experience some pain early on. So pay attention to this. If you’re feeling pain, you may not be holding your ankles correctly. This could cause muscle strain. Try experimenting with different ways of holding your ankles to see how you can reduce pain. Over time, you’ll get stronger and your kick will get faster as a result.
Flexibility in the knees, hips, and ankles. (But especially the external rotation of your knees.)
Swallowing water. There are two ways to counteract that. The first is to improve your underwater seal. Your hands should always be holding on to the first switch, putting constant pressure on your lower abdomen. This will help you create a watertight seal. If you’re having trouble with the seal, try doing breaststroke without a pull-kick and using only your legs. Also, learn how to roll and tuck your shoulders (with your arms extended).
Another way to get off the bottom is to add dolphin kicking. If you’re short on time or pregnant, you can save it.
When you release the wall and push off with your hips, you’re not transferring your energy to move your arm. Instead, look to improve the following:
As you reach out into the water, imagine your hands are gripping the first bolt. This will help keep your shoulders and hips in alignment.
Breathing. Many people practice breathing every three strokes. To improve, aim to breathe every two.
Form. Look for a straight line from your feet to your shoulders. If one part of you is out of alignment, you’ll notice a hole in the line.
The recovery phase of the pull and kick are lightning-quick.
Take the time to learn it and there will be no kick-adjustments. There are a few things you can do to get your kick to where it needs to be.
What you’re trying to accomplish with the breaststroke kick is to keep your legs in the same plane as your body throughout the cycle. Sounds simple enough, right? The problem is that the recovery phase of the pull and kick are lightning-fast. The moment the stroke is completed, the knee is straightened and your foot enters the water.
Keeping your legs in this plane takes a bit of practice, so if you’re just starting out, don’t get frustrated if you feel like you can’t keep them there. Just do the best you can and remember that it’s a learning process.
Here are some of the best ways to improve your breaststroke kick. Remember that there’s no magic bullet. It’s going to take time to improve your kick, but if you make a conscious effort to do the following, you’ll notice a positive difference in your swimming.
Increase your speed into the wall by replacing the standard two-handed touch with flip turns.
This decreases your skill requirement and generally makes you a lot faster in the water.
Based on the speed of your kick, you may want to consider using an F-pull or u-pull kick — a variation of the traditional breaststroke kick.
Make sure you bring your knees to your chest to maximize the benefit of your arms in the water … not just moving straight back and forth.
Edging your hands as close together as possible only creates more resistance, so try to keep your arms as loose and comfortable as possible.
Try to relax your neck and shoulders.
Take smaller strokes and practice more propulsion (power) rather and more efficiency.
Some Quick Technique Tips for Breaststrokers
You will find that there will always be many factors that concern your breaststroke. This includes your efficiency in the water. More water travel means a lesser chance for hurting your body. Then, there’s the speed aspect. Speed is one thing that every swimmer wears as a badge of honor. How “fast” one is in the water reaches the ears of many, and the feeling it gives is almost exhilarating.
Breaststroke is a very strenuous way of swimming, and this is why many would agree to its challenges. However, with the proper timing and understanding of your strokes, you can be assured a great deal in your swimming journey. Now what are these factors that you can focus on to improve your swimming experience?
Here are some breaststroke tips that could help you with your goal:
Manage the pace. Many swim coaches recommend that you go about your breaststroke at a pace that is comfortable for you. The most common misconception about breaststroke is that you should start with a powerful stroke at the beginning. But the truth is, you should be in an unhurried stroke at the start. As you go on, you gradually increase your stroke. This will give you a better opportunity to focus throughout.
More Breaststroke Resources
The key to speed in swimming is to get the minimum amount of distance covered with the maximum amount of deep, powerful strokes. On top of that, swimmers should keep their recovery time short by using the arm recovery primarily to rotate their body, rather than bringing their hand up to the side. The swimmer’s elbow should be underwater and pointed towards the bottom of the pool. A short recovery time also helps to prevent too many powerful dolphin kicks.
The candidate kicks with a slight bend in their knees, but they keep their rear end in line with the front of their body. Their legs are never kicked up to vertical as that’s a waste of energy. The swimmer’s head stays at the whole time and is pointed forward. It never goes underwater. The most important thing is that the muscle use stays constant while the swimmer is doing his or her breaststroke.