Swim Secrets: Top Techniques for a Better Breaststroke

Breaststroke Proficiency

One aspect that needs proficiency is in the amount of pull and surge used to move through the water.

Looking at a swimmer using the breaststroke, the arms pulling back appear to be the dominate action. However, a focus on a smooth surge forward is the ultimate goal. Over-emphasizing the pulling action in the stroke can actually slow the rate of speed and tires the swimmer out quickly. Here are three areas to target with specific secrets for an effortless breaststroke.

Body Motion

There are two parts of the body to focus on during the breaststroke. The top half is responsible for the arms and hands setting the direction, surge, and balance. The bottom includes the legs and feet. Positioning the arms level with the water and pointed in the direction you want to go is critical. A secret for the perfect upper body maneuver has the arms making an inverted heart-shape. This requires palms to face outward with arms stretched forward followed by pulling back.

It is also essential to have upper body motion balance between the pull and surge. Keep the arms level with the rest of the body just under the water’s surface to propel forward. To confirm the exact placement of the arms, the elbows will meet at the side of the chest at the end of the maneuver. The legs and feet use the same motion and timing as the arms and hands throughout the swim.


The legs, arms, and breathing have to work together for the breaststroke to be successful. This means each part of the body will need to be strategically timed and in sync. Lead with the arms forward and legs straight. Follow this with the arms and legs making the inverted heart-shape at the same time and have them both meeting at the starting point simultaneously.

Pay attention to breathing technique as well. This takes place when the arms pull back. The swimmer raises their head to take in air before easing back into the water to complete the heart shape with the arms and legs. A caveat about breathing is for beginners to reach the point of keeping the head in the water until it is time for a breath. The rationale here is to prevent neck issues that are a result of the head being above water the entire swim.

Pull and Surge

A view of the breaststroke shows a predominance of the pull in the water pattern. However, the surge is the actual kinetic propulsion of the body. The secret to maximizing this aspect is two-fold. First, a metered and balanced pull backward will offer a less choppy water pattern. It also cuts down the water lag element and buoys the swimmer. This sets the stage for the body to move like a bullet with the upper and lower in a closed position. Second, focus on the head and body’s positioning to surge forward.

Taking swimming lessons in NYC are an ideal place to learn more secrets and tips. This should be followed with practice to hone them into proficiency. Once the breaststroke is mastered, swimmers can make the seamless transition into more complex techniques such as the butterfly or backstroke.

   Brooke Chaplan

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