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 finished. It is this accordion effect that produces greater resistance in the water and the stop-start stroke. The stop-start effect creates a variance in speed in the stroke cycle. It is thus important to try and minimise this variance as much as possible to conserve energy and maintain a constant speed.
At SwimGym we have three key elements that we want to impart when teaching you the breaststroke.
The first element is the timing of the breathing and the kick, 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.
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 end in a position that is 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. Thirdly is the acceleration of the hands from the chest through the water to the front and into a streamline position at the end of the complete movement. The hands accelerate throughout these 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 is streamlining. As the third phase of the arm movement is reached, the kick should be finishing, and the legs should be 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 and you will see how your stroke will speed up.
Lots to teach; lots to learn; lots of calories to burn.