Tag: strokes

How To Swim Breast Stroke

MASTER YOUR SWIMMING TECHNIQUE (1): BREAST STROKE

The breaststroke is also known as the “froggy” stroke among children learning to swim as it sounds more endearing. The movement also resembles that of a frog swimming in water hence the use of this term. It is the most popular recreational style because it is very stable and does not require a lot of effort if a good technique is applied.

It can be a tricky stroke to master but once you manage to coordinate it properly, it can become a very leisurely way to swim. Here are 5 steps to ensure you master the breaststroke.

Step 1: Body position

Keep your body flat and lie facing down in the water with your body kept in line with the water surface.

Step 2: Arm movement

There are three steps in arm movement – the Catch, Pull and Recovery. A fun way to learn this is to imagine scooping a gigantic bowl of ice-cream (Catch), pushing towards your mouth to eat (Pull) and then doing it again (Recovery).

1. Catch – With arms out straight and palms facing downwards, press down and out at the same time.

2. Pull – With elbows elevated above hands, pull hard towards your chest. The pull should have an accelerating hand movement pressing back and downward by the palm and forearms.

3. Recover – Join both palms together in a prayer like fashion in front of your chest and push out until your arms are straight again. This position helps reduce drag when pushing against the water.

Breaststroke arms

Step 3: Breathing Technique

Lift your head and neck above water at the end of the pulling movement for a breath. In the recovery phase, exhale bubbles in the water whilst your hands are pushed forward. Remember to use the praying position and the correct breathing techniques!Step 4: Leg Action

Starting with your legs straightened, bend your knees to bring your heel towards your bottom and make a circular motion outwards with your feet until they return to the starting position. When your knees are being bent, your feet should be below the water surface and shoulder width apart.

An important point to remember is keeping your feet in a dorsi-flexed position (flat-foot) whilst doing the breaststroke kick for more thrust.

breaststroke legs

Step 5: Learn to Glide

After executing the breaststroke kick, your body should be in a streamlined position with your arms and legs straightened. Stay in this position for one to two seconds as the forward propulsion by your legs should allow you to “glide” forward.

Notes on Coordination

  • When your breathing is finished, drop your head down in water and begin the kick.
  • When your kick is finished, hold out your arms straight in streamline position. (Gliding)
  • After 1-2 seconds, begin your arm movement again. (Step 2)

Helpful Tips

  • Do not rush through the gliding phase as it is actually the fastest part of the stroke.
  • Keep your feet in flat-footed position when performing the kick.

The Different Swimming Strokes / Styles

The most common swimming strokes or styles are the freestyle stroke, the breaststroke, the backstroke and the butterfly stroke. They are well-known because they are used in swimming competitions.

collage showing the four competitive swim strokes
The swim strokes used in competitions

Besides these common strokes, other styles of swim strokes exist like the sidestroke, the trudgen, the combat swimmer stroke, etc. They are used less often but can also be fun to learn.

Let’s have a quick overview of these popular swimming strokes now.

The Freestyle Stroke

The Freestyle Stroke or front crawl is often the preferred stroke of seasoned swimmers. It uses alternating arm movements with an above water recovery. The legs execute a flutter kick.

Freestyle is fast and efficient. In fact, it is the fastest of all swimming strokes. That’s why it is used in freestyle competitions and in the swimming leg of triathlons.

Breaststroke

Breaststroke is the most popular swim stroke of all. In breaststroke, both arms execute half-circular arm movements at the same time underwater in front of the swimmer. The arm recovery also occurs under water. The legs simultaneously perform a whip kick.

A young man swimming breaststroke
Breaststroke

Breaststroke is often the first swimming stroke taught to beginners. In fact, many casual swimmers can only swim this stroke.

The advantage of breaststroke is that beginners can keep their head above the water. This avoids breathing and orientation issues. More experienced swimmers, however, submerge their head during the stroke cycle to improve efficiency.

Breaststroke is the slowest of the competitive strokes.

Butterfly Stroke

The butterfly stroke stands out among the competitive strokes because of it’s unique and spectacular technique. It uses a symmetrical arm stroke with an above water recovery. It also uses a wave-like body undulation and a dolphin kick.

A man swimming the butterfly stroke
The Butterfly Stroke

The butterfly is the second fastest swim stroke after freestyle. It has a reputation of being hard to learn and is quickly exhausting. But once you have mastered it, swimming a few lengths of butterfly can be a lot of fun!

Backstroke

As its name suggests, backstroke is swum on the back. It uses alternating circular arm movements and an above water recovery. The legs execute a flutter kick similar to the one used in freestyle.

A woman swimming backstroke with arm extended overhead
Backstroke

In competition, backstroke is faster than breaststroke but slower than butterfly. Physicians often prescribe backstroke swimming to people experiencing back problems because it gives the back an excellent workout.

Sidestroke

The sidestroke is an old swim stroke swum on the side that uses a scissor kick and asymmetrical underwater arm movements.

A man swimming sidestroke
Sidestroke

Sidestroke is not used in swimming competitions and is therefore swum less often nowadays. Nevertheless, it is easy to learn and can be an interesting alternative to the popular swim strokes. It is also used by lifeguards to rescue victims.