Swimming blog - BREASTSTROKE 4 elements of a beautiful breaststroke

Breaststroke might not seem challenging as a stroke, but in professional swimming it is the most powerful and technical stroke of all. Upgrade your breaststroke to a professional level with these four elements.

Breaststroke is a stop-start stroke. When the feet are brought up, the body folds in like an accordion and then folds back out when the kick is finished. It is this accordion effect that produces a higher resistance in the water than the other strokes. The stop-start effect creates a bigger variance in speed in the stroke cycle than the other strokes. It is thus important to try and minimise this variance as much as possible to conserve energy and maintain a constant speed. 

We at SwimGym have several key elements that we want to impart when teaching you the breaststroke. The elements are not in any order of importance as every element is weighted evenly. 

The first element is the timing of the breathing and the legs, as the heels of the feet are pulled up towards the bum, the head rises up out of the water and a breath is taken. This is the correct timing. It minimises the overall drag and synchronises the accordion moment when everything is bunched up. 

The second element is what we do with our arms. We can classify three distinctive phases in the arm movement. The first is a slow and wide pull to the side where the hands are a little wider than the front scull position. The second phase is where the hands are pulled in towards the body and the hands stay in front of the elbows. The third phase is the movement of the hands from just in front of the breast through the water to the front and into a streamline position where both hand are together with outstretched arms in the front. The hands accelerate throughout the three phases, getting faster and faster as they go along. In the third phase try and make a V with your hands to cut more easily through the water and minimise drag. 

The third element are the legs. Frog legs! Pick the heels up to the bum. Try to keep the knees static and not pull the knees in towards the chest. When the heels are almost on the water surface, turn the feet outwards and push hard backwards and slightly downwards. There are two ways of kicking. Kicking with the knees close together and not moving or where the knees move outwards as the heels come up. Both are good ways of kicking. 

The fourth element is streamlining. As the third phase of the arm movement is reached, the legs should be finishing the kick and coming together with pointed toes. At this point the body experiences the greatest moment of forward propulsion and it is important to get into a streamline position to maximise the effect of the legs pushing you forward. Don’t be too impatient to start the pull but wait for two counts. This will build good speed in your stroke. 

Lots to teach; lots to learn; lots of calories to burn. 


As the world is battling coronavirus, we hope you are safe and healthy wherever you are. Even though life’s on hold with public spaces (and pools) closing down temporarily, we hope to inspire you this week with one of our favourite subjects: read on »

Breaststroke is full of technical difficulties and challenges, but a wonderful stroke to master. It is a stop-start stroke. When the feet are brought up, the body folds in an accordion-like position and then folds back out when the kick is... read on »