View Full Version : Why are we good at certain strokes

May 4th, 2003, 11:05 PM
I know their are many factors why some people are freestylers or breastrokers or flyers or backstrokers. Body type is one factor and interest is another. I wonder about the influence of first coaches as a kid, my first coach ran a swim school and she was on the Dutch National team in the early 1940's. She was a breastroker and seem to emphisized the kick in the stroke.So she practice the kick with me and of course breastroke was one of my beststrokes during the age group period and in masters its my best stroke as an adult when I returned in my 40's. So does anyone else agree that first coaches in either age-group or novice swimming or masters swimming influences the strokes we tend to be better at.

May 5th, 2003, 11:24 AM
Backstroke requires strong biceps, breastroke requires strong flexible adducters and forearms, free style is more natural so tends to attract the "overall" athelete, while butterfly requres shoulders and core (IE abdomen) muscles. The prototype breastroke body would be steve lundquist, butterfly - Phelps, Freestlye - Gary Hall jr, and backstroke Jeff Rouse.

May 5th, 2003, 06:36 PM
Somehow I got the kick right in breast early on as a kid, so that became my favorite stroke because I'm lazy and I could loaf during the breast sets and still keep up with everyone else during practice. I don't think it was the result of coaching, but just perception or dumb luck on my part that I understood the motion. Once it was my favorite, somewhere along the way I started actually trying and won a few races.

I had a great butterfly stroke when I was younger, the result of a coach who had himself competed at high levels in butterfly. It almost became my favorite just because I seemed to understand the stroke and "get it" sooner than the other kids on the team. In other words, I liked it because I could show off. But remember that I'm lazy, and even with a good stroke butterfly takes effort. So it was back to breast.

Freestyle and backstroke always seemed like chores, something that had to be done. I couldn't find anywhere in the stroke to rest, so the laziness in me prevented my choosing either of those strokes. Plus, I hate flip turns. I can do them just fine, but they take too much effort.

Now I really don't have a favorite. I swim them all during my workouts, but I guess they all take too much effort nowdays to pick one above the others. Maybe I should take up boating and let a motor do the work for me.

May 5th, 2003, 08:22 PM
I'm don't think it has everything to do with coaching at an early age. It sounds like a cop-out to say that there are as many reasons as there are swimmers, but I think that's true. I swim fairly competitive workouts now, and I did in high school and college, but I never swam competitively. I'm probably best at freestyle, though backstroke is my favorite. Breaststroke used to be my favorite back when I was young and foolish and thought it was easier.

I'd guess that many non-competitive swimmers would be better at freestyle, because it's the most common stroke. But it depends a great deal on past experience, current enjoyment, and frequency of practice. My butterfly is my worst stroke, but if I worked at it enough, even at the old age of 33, I'd probably turn it into my best stroke.

Just my humble $.02.


May 5th, 2003, 11:44 PM
I don't found breastroke a lazy stroke. For one the underwater pull probably takes more oxgen out of you particulary when you are in poor shape. When I first swam it in workouts I avoided the underwater pull. Both Breastroke and fly is where I experiance Lancid acid built up more than freestyle and backstroke. The flip turns also take it out of me over 500 yards these days. And I too had a good fly as a teenager because I workout on it a lot. My backstroke suffered because I workout on the other three strokes. Freestyle to built up yardage as a kid and breastroke and butterfly because they were my better strokes. The fly has suffered as an adult because at first I did mainly freestyle and breastroke and my upper body strength I have lost a lot of it-I'm 46 years old. Also, as a kid the period where I swam backstroke the best was when I was on a novice team where the coach did a lot of it. Proving my point a little.

May 6th, 2003, 12:07 AM
This is interesting. I started all of this late in life, so it isn't a childhood choice with me. I really like breaststroke and the coach I work with did tell me once I have the right body for it. But I never got her to explain fully what she meant. Part of what I like about the breaststroke is the technical nature and timing of the stroke. She also says I should be good at fly and while I enjoy the motion of it I don't think I'll ever develop the endurance to do much of it. By doing some dryland work I've improved my fly though so maybe there is hope.

My backstroke is bad although I just recently fixed a problem with my turns and I'm now doing more laps just to make sure the turns stay fixed. The more of it I do, the better it feels. If I ever get to the point where I don't take in so much water, maybe I'll even like it.

I hated freestyle for a long time because it was so hard - endurance again - but it is now the most reliable stroke for me i.e. I can always do it even when I'm tired.

I've read a couple comments from people who say the underwater pull for the breaststroke really tires them. From the first time I did it I loved it and seldom find it tires me - on the other hand flip turns exhaust me. I'm getting better through practice, but they deplete my oxygen much more than the underwater pull does. Curious how experiences differ.

May 6th, 2003, 11:56 AM
Originally posted by mickijean
I've read a couple comments from people who say the underwater pull for the breaststroke really tires them. From the first time I did it I loved it and seldom find it tires me - on the other hand flip turns exhaust me. I'm getting better through practice, but they deplete my oxygen much more than the underwater pull does. Curious how experiences differ.

My experience is EXACTLY the same. I don't compete, so take what I say with that in mind; but I've just never had a problem with the pull down, and I get a good deal of distance out of it. On the other hand, I can swim freestyle seemingly forever if I leave out the flip turns.

To clarify what I meant about breast being "easier" for me, it isn't really easier. It's just that there are points in the stroke where it's possible to rest if you're lazy, where in freestyle the swimmer has to keep moving. When you swim with people who have bad technique in their breaststroke, you have time to rest when the opportunities present themselves and still keep the pace. For a lazy swimmer, breast is best!

Maybe I should change my name from Shaky to Lazy.:p

May 6th, 2003, 12:45 PM
I swim every stroke and distance but my favorite is the 200 backstroke. I usually tend to place better in the 200 fly though, even though it's my worst stroke (the place is highly correlated with number of entrants--3 entrants = third place).

May 6th, 2003, 07:15 PM
Well, I swim the breastroke in races and the pullout can hurt if you are almost going full speed. If you swim breast like a turtle with your head above water or slightly dip it, it takes less energy than other strokes, but if you read Wayne breastroker site, speed breastroke gives you less opportunity to pause between strokes and also the coach of the Unversity of Michigan states, that competitive breastrokers at the elite level need more rest on their intervals than freestylers or backsrokers In my experiance its freestyle or backstroke that are easier to be lazier at. But in workouts I usually do less all out freestyles or backstrokes for speed. I'm not putting down freestylers but most novice swimmers tend to do better at it than they do at either breastroke or fly. Some swim breastroke like a turtle and can do several laps but their kick is off. On the other hand many of them have less problems with freestyle or backstroke except flip turns or side breathing on freestyle. Also, flip turns effect me too now after the 500 yard mark but I'm not in the shape like I was when younger. Another reason that the underpull on breastroke or fly effects me as well.

May 6th, 2003, 09:27 PM
I think I qualify as a lazy swimmer most of the time too, nice to know I'm not the only one.

I agree that when sprinting there is nothing easy about the breaststroke. I just swam a 50 at a meet and was sure I'd never make the wall - I'd just sink to the bottom unable to do one more stroke.

But for some reason the great feeling of acceleration during the underwater pull gives me a mental lift while flip turns remain torture. So to the extent that mind over matter works, the pull isn't tiring for me. And unless I start thinking too much - one of my failings - I'll be able to do it.

May 13th, 2003, 01:00 PM
Well, I past my ability to do flip turns in freestyle-I did 1650 and all flip turns in practice but I breath almost every stroke that helps.

Bob McAdams
May 20th, 2003, 11:49 AM
Early coaching and instruction can have a major influence on what strokes you're best at, though it is certainly possible to overcome that influence.

The first thing every swimmer needs to learn is proper stroke technique. All the training and conditioning in the world is never, ultimately, going to overcome an inefficient stroke. The trouble is that the more training and conditioning you do with bad technique, the more engrained that bad technique is going to become, and the harder it will be to replace it with good, efficient stroke technique. Also, when you succeed in replacing bad technique with good technique, you may find that you're suddenly having to rely on muscles that you've never developed before, so you end up, in some degree, starting all over with your conditioning.

So if you have a coach who's a champion breaststroker, you're likely to have a head start over another swimmer whose coach never quite got the hang of breaststroke. The other swimmer can eventually overcome his handicap if he gets hooked up with a coach who can teach him good breaststroke technique--and if he's willing to put in a lot of hours of training on a stroke at which he isn't really excelling, and put up with a lot of discouragement!

This is why I got really incensed awhile back when a woman who is a professional swim instructor said that she teaches kids stroke technique that she knows to be faulty and inefficient because "it's easier for them to learn", adding that they can learn proper stroke technique later if they decide to swim competitively. She seemed to have no comprehension of how many hours of hard, discouraging training her students were going to have to endure to unlearn the faulty techniques she was teaching them!