View Full Version : hardest stroke-breastroke or butterfly

February 21st, 2003, 12:54 AM
I watch lap swimmers and many have difficulty learning the breastroke kick. When they swim breastroke, the kick is off. Freestyle and backstroke not nearly the same problems. Butterfly is also difficult to master. As someone who has swim both fly and breastroke, sometimes I fell that breast is harder on you than fly. And in my middle years I'm more of a breastroker. What do you think? Which one is harder?

February 21st, 2003, 09:08 AM
Well, there's an interesting question, and probably one which will elicit many different views.

For my part, I'd say that breast stroke is probably harder on the knees than the other 3 strokes.

I'm sure most would say that butterfly is the most strenuous stroke to perform. I know plenty of folk who wouldn't have any problem doing lots of 100's or 200's on any stroke except butterfly. (But is that solely because they practice fly less??)

Then again, I recall some research from many years ago that argued that backstroke was the hardest stroke, on the basis that it''s the only stroke where your face is predominantly out of the water. (When your face is immersed your breathing rate decreases.)

Interested in other's views though.


February 21st, 2003, 10:15 AM
Actually, I think Breast is harder than fly at 200 yards because of the underwater pull. But if you rid breast of the underwater pull its easier. On the other hand, if you do you dolphin kicks underwater it willl sometimes make it worst than breast.

February 21st, 2003, 11:27 AM
Any stroke can be hard or easy depending on how you swim it. If you are talking about the physical demands of just doing the stroke - butterfly is harder. By this I mean the fact of doing the stroke where your arms recover above or right the surface of the water compared to breatstroke where your recovery is underwater. Look at the swimmers in the pool, you will generally see plain lap/fitness swimmers doing breastroke , sometimes face out of the water going leisurely down the pool, yet I don't think I have seen someone doing a leisurely butterfly (unless you count Walt Pfieffer who use to swim 100's of butterfly in 50m pool with a long sleeve shirt on to protect his back from the sun). Even your swim training programs (Amercian Red Cross) call breastroke a relaxing stroke (also elementary backstroke and sidestroke). I would agree that breastroke can be harder on the body, primarily the knees because the movement is a little unnatural. My own personal choice, I would gladly swim any race over a 200 fly.

February 21st, 2003, 09:50 PM
Most lap swimmers do not do the underwater pull on breastroke. Try doing a 5 yard pullout for every turn for 500 yards and see if you can hold your breath together. Swimming breastroke in races is a lot different. Many of us breastrokers do the underwater pull more so than butterflyers do the two or more dolphin kicks in races. And a lot of master swimmers will not do the dolphin kicks off of 200 yard fly to preserve their oxgen while breastrokers are more likely do an underwater pull. Believe me doing 200 yard races with the underwater pull is not that fun. And in workouts I have swam the 200 yard fly and the 200 yard breastroke. I can't do much dolphin kick off the turns anymore and the butterfly stroke gets worst each lap but on breastroke I feel lancid acid built up more because of the under water pull.

February 21st, 2003, 11:14 PM
Breastroke as a kid was easy for me since I had the kick. My first coach was an ex-breastroker for the Holland National Team in the 1940's. And the red cross is incorrect breastroke is no leisure stroke about 80 percent of beginning swimmers have difficulty with the kick and its not a leisure stroke if you swim it with a little speed and do some under water pull outs. Also, top flyers like Michael Phelps and Mark Spitz where fly comes natural worst stroke is breastroke. Many beginners have problem learning fly but most dominate flyers or backstrokers or freestylers have more difficulty with breast because it is a kick stroke rather than an arm stroke. As for fly it was easier for me than backstroke as a kid which was my worst stroke and I could swim a 50 yard fly as fast as a 50 yard freestyle as a kid. I can't say the same thing today because my upper-body strength is weaker.

February 22nd, 2003, 02:35 AM
It's interesting that while breast and fly are vertical axis strokes, seldom are there swimmers who excel at both. Breast stroke for me is harder, although I can swim a longer distance in breast than fly. I think most people are that way.

Why is breast harder? Aside from the knee issue (and my left knee has been surgically reconstructed due to a silly foray into basketball...) I find breast harder because it requires inner thigh muscles, unlike the other three stokes. Maybe I just don't swim enough breast so these muscles are weaker than my quads, hamstring, and butt. I find fly easier because it has a rhythm: once you're going, it's easier to keep going. I often find that in a practice (we have very narrow lanes and a 20 metre pool) that if I do one arm fly for one or two strokes to avoid collision with an oncoming swimmer, the rest of the length is arduous. But uninterruted fly is not so tiring. Thus I conclude the dolphin rhythm makes fly easier.

The turn in any stroke is hard due to oxygen debt: all stokes benefit from a long underwater kick, pull, or glide. I feel like a rock cod coming up from 200 metres off the wall on the third turn of a 100...even though I'm in pretty good shape. Anybody have any suggestions (drills, etc.) on how to ease this feeling?

February 22nd, 2003, 10:37 AM
If you are able to swim both breastroke and butterfly legally, I'd say:

Butterfly is harder to finish any given distance legally. It takes more energy even to go slowly.


if you are swimming as fast as you can, breastroke is harder over any given distance, just because it takes longer.

I'm a breastroker, of course.

Swim fast, y'all.

February 22nd, 2003, 10:59 PM
Personality, fly is harder now because I came back gradual on but its not harder to swim any longer than breastroke for me. Probably because I try a pullout on breastroke and I'm 45 years old. As a teenger I swam two flys at JR Olympics and did the second 200 yard faster in one day. On the other hand, at the community college finals ,I swam 2 seconds slower in the second 100 yard breastroke. It was a sprint. And as stated before there are lots of breastokers with fly as the second stroke but flyers and freestylers and backstrokers don't have breastroke as their second stroke because of the kick involved. I was a mediocre freestyler as a kid and I develop first as a breastroker and the fly was added because in novice dual meets they needed someone to swim that event and I was pick and I develop also as a flyer.