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Learn How To Swim 101: Breaststroke - the Arm Action:

Learn How To Swim Breaststroke Arm Action

The breaststroke video give a good over view but now I want to go into more detail.

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The breaststroke arm action it straight forward. If you can do a doggie paddle (i.e swim like a dog) using both arms under the water (like paws), you can do the breaststroke arm action.

I start to teach my students the breast stroke arm action the moment they are able to do the dog paddle. I start to teach dog paddle from the moment they first enter the water at about 6 months old.

Don't worry though you don't have to have been doing dog paddle from that tender age in order to be able to do breaststroke. I find that most adults pick up a dual arm action very quickly and in fact some find breaststroke easier to start there swimming with.

I think the reason is not that it is an easier stroke because in my view it is one of the hardest, but that the motivation to do it is higher because if you pull hard enough you can swim with your head out of the water.

You can learn to do freestyle with you head out of the water but it is much harder then breaststroke and way more exhausting.

The problem is that keeping your head out of water when doing breaststroke is wrong and even though it is easier to learn to keep your head out of the water than freestyle, it is still much harder to learn that way than with your head in. In fact I recommend that you start to learn breaststroke whilst swimming under water. it's much easier to concentrate on your arm action when you don't have to lift your head up to take a breath.

Obviously you can't do this if you are afraid to put your head underwater. If you are, you will need to refer back to previous posts and learn to put your head underwater.

To start breaststroke:

Begin with a torpedo position.
From a torpedo position (Fig.#1), glide for a moment and then start your arm pull - catch (Fig.#2).

Image of a swimmer in the torpedo position
(Fig.#1)Torpedo Position

Image of a swimmer about to start their breaststroke. The posisiton is called Start of Catch

After you have gone about a meter pull you arms back to about your shoulders (Fig.#3).

Image of a smiling swimmer doing the breaststoke arms out in front sweeping away from each other (outsweep)

Then bring your hands under your chest.

Image of a happy swimmer sweeping his arms inward (insweep), under his chest

Now push your hands back out to a torpedo position again (Fig. #5)

Image of swimmer in torpedo position
(Fig.#5) Return To The Torpedo Position

This is the basic breaststroke.

Once you have got the hang of basic breaststroke, you need to learn to lift your head.

Image of a happy swimmer about to start their breaststroke. The posisiton is called Start of Catch

You do it like this:
From your "start of catch" position (Fig.#6), pull your hands back to your shoulders as in Fig.#3 only this time pulling harder, then lift you head as you do your insweep (Fig.#7). 

Image of a happy swimmer sweeping his arms inward (insweep), under his chest whilst lifting his head out of the water

Don't bother about taking a breath at this point. You almost certainly will have your head in the wrong position. We'll talk about breathing in your breaststroke next time. Concentrate on getting you arm action right.


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