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Monster Tip Number 7

2 Aug 2013

Breaststroke may be chosen in preference to freestyle for a number of reasons:

  • Difficulty mastering the alternating nature of freestyle
  • Inability to maintain freestyle for duration of swim
  • Easier to navigate in open-water
  • More sociable option / enjoy surroundings

Essentially, a well-executed breaststroke can be more efficient and enjoyable than apoorly executed freestyle and therefore, may be the preferred option for a number ofswimmers. As with other strokes however, many of the principles remain the same andobserving a few basic rules can make your breaststroke an effective alternative to freestyle.


The arm movements can be broken down into 4 distinct phases:

  1. 1. Out-sweep – from full extension the arms pull wide and straight
  2. 2. Catch – as the arms travel wide of the shoulders the elbows begin to bend andpress down on the water
  3. 3. In-sweep – the arms continue to accelerate in a semi-circular movement to bringthe hands underneath the body
  4. 4. Recovery – as the hands release the water they continue up, in and forward untilthey reach the surface and extend again to the start position

Note: the four stages should combine to produce a continuous action and there shouldbe a smooth acceleration of hand speed from the beginning of Phase (1) to the end of Phase (4).

Leg Action

The leg kick is important in breaststroke because it generates a much larger proportionof the propulsive force than it does in the other strokes.Again, the kick can be broken down into 4 phases:

  1. 1. Recovery – from an extended position, the heels are drawn up towards the buttocks.Keep the feet extended and the knees close (inside line of shoulders).
  2. 2. Catch – as the heels approach the buttocks the feet should be rotated out anddorsi-flexed (turned up).
  3. 3. Out-sweep – the hip and knee joints extend to drive the legs backward and outward.
  4. 4. In-sweep – the legs continue to accelerate, now sweeping back together and finishingcompletely extended.

Note: as with the arm action the stages should combine to produce a continuous movement,though there should be a notable acceleration through stages 3-4

Body position

Breaststroke, because of the movements involved, tends to create more resistance, andso, tends to be the slowest of the strokes.However, just like freestyle, the aim in breaststroke is to maintain as streamlined a bodyposition as possible. It helps if you can put your face in the water at the front of the stroke.This will help to keep the body streamlined and the hips up near the surface..


As with all other swimming strokes, the aim of the timing in breaststroke is to maximizeforward propulsion whilst minimizing drag resistance. To achieve this try to complete thepropulsive phases of the arms (Stages 1-3) before starting with the propulsive phasesof the legs (Stages 2-4).

It may help to visualize this if you think:

  • As the arms propel and lift, the legs will be extended.
  • As the legs flex and begin to drive, the arms should be extended

And remember each whole stroke cycle begins and ends in a streamlined position.