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50 Swim Tips

Breaststroke Technique
By Gary Barclay

Breaststroke has little relationship to the other strokes. In breaststroke, the limbs work simultaneously and symmetrically (not alternately) and there is no above water recovery of the arms

When the arms and legs are fully extended, the body is in a streamlined position

The arm movement is a sculling action using the hands and forearms to generate propulsion
From a fully extended position, with the palms angled at 45 degrees facing outward and downward, the hands scull outward and slightly upward
Elbows remain straight until the outward scull is completed
The hands turn from palms facing outward to palms facing inward with hands maintaining good feel of the water
Hand speed increases rapidly throughout the inward scull, with palm pitched backward, downward and inward
As thumbs come together, hands are recovered forward, just below the surface until they are fully extended in a streamlined position

Recover the legs by lifting the feet toward the buttocks by bending at the knee joint rather than the hip joint
Feet are then dorsi-flexed and twisted so that the toes point outward
Feet are driven directly back and slightly downward until the legs are virtually straight

From a streamlined position, the first movement is the outward scull of the arms
At the beginning of the inward scull, the head and body begin to rise for inhalation
Near the end of the inward scull, inhalation occurs and the legs begin their recovery
When the hands have achieved 70% of their recovery, inhalation will have been completed and the feet will begin their backward thrust
Body returns to a streamlined position


All drills can be done in multiples of 25’s, 50’s or 100’s


1. Practice the kicking movement on dryland
2. Practice the kick on the edge of the pool
3. Kick on back with (or without) board on the chest
4. Kick on front using board - Introduce breathing, one breath for every three kicks
5. Same - except one breath for every two kicks (correct breathing timing is essential)
6. Same - except one breath for every one kick

1. Using fins and F/S kick, swim with arms extended and small sculling actions
2. Same - using a larger sculling action
3. Same - using a small BRST arm pull - Introduce breathing by lifting the head and shoulders to breath at the beginning of the inward scull. Hold glide after each recovery with the arms fully extended
4. Repeat above steps without fins
5. BRST arm pull with one butterfly kick for each arm pull. Kick to be done when hands are 70% recovered

By following the KICK and PULL progressions, the swimmer will be able to kick and breath with the correct timing and pull and breath with the correct timing
By connecting the pull and kick together, the breathing timing should look after itself
1. 1 pull, 3 kicks - Breath only on the full stroke, glide after each kick
2. 1 pull, 2 kicks - same
3. Breaststroke with a long glide

Gary Barclay
The Swimming Expert

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If you are after some DVDs to watch, we have sourced some of the best Breaststroke specific DVDs from around the world on swimBREASTSTROKEfast.


A book for competitive swimmers by Gary Barclay - A Great Resource for Swimmers, Parents and Coaches in Australia
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