View Full Version : Rare breaststroke problem

February 28th, 2013, 06:07 PM
Searching everywhere and not finding much, I think I have an unusual breaststroke problem: I struggle to get my head out of the water for breathing, and then it drops down deep, so that on my next stroke I have to stuggle to get my head ... and round and round it goes.

Moreover, I read about swimmers having the opposite problem; their heads go too high! And indeed I've seen pictures of breaststrokers with their bodies out of the water down to their waists! I know it's bad form, but wow!

I can't even do a head-up breaststroke; my head just won't stay up.

Anyone else have/had this problem? Any suggestions?

I don't even understand what is supposed to bring the head up; where and when is the upward force being applied and by what?

Fighting for breath on every stroke is causing huge anxiety for me; I usually end up with water instead of air in my mouth and I have to abort the swim and have a coughing fit. It's a showstopper.


February 28th, 2013, 08:03 PM
That does sound like an odd problem... Maybe your hips are riding too low in the water? That could cause you to be too vertical and not horizontal enough and making you sink with every stroke. Have you tried doing breast stroke pull with a buoy? I also like doing breast stroke pull with a dolphin kick - it's fast and fun - but I don't know if that would help you, unless you can maintain a dolphin kick on the surface. Make sure you're also keeping your head still. You don't want to lift your head but rather shrug your shoulders up and keep your head in line with your spine as though you're walking upright.

February 28th, 2013, 10:06 PM
Anyone else have/had this problem? Any suggestions?

Ok, here I go again( :blah: :rolleyes: ): If at all possible, get somebody to shoot video of your breaststroke, upload it to YouTube, and post it here. Better yet, post it on "The Breaststroke Lane" thread. King Frog (Allen Stark) gives great breaststroke technique feedback and can probably spot what the problem is with your stroke. :agree:

K.F.: I hope you don't mind that I keep telling people this! But, so far, very few people have actually done it.

February 28th, 2013, 10:50 PM
It could suggest weakness of the muscles used to raise your head. Were you ever able to lift your head up without difficulty, that is, is this a change for you? Do you perceive weakness in any other muscles in particular?

Allen Stark
March 1st, 2013, 04:29 AM
You almost certainly are having a problem with timing or with your insweep.You should raise your torso as you insweep.The insweep action,along with recovering the feet at the same time should naturally raise your torso.You don't need to raise your head,your upper body should be high enough to breathe.There are several timing issues that could cause this problem also.A video would help.

March 2nd, 2013, 07:55 AM
Your Majesty,

A video would help.

Alas, the YMCA where I so-called "swim" has a strict no-photography-or-videography rule (although they just finished installing surveillance cameras in the building, thus breaking their own rule...interesting), so a video would have to wait for me to find a video-friendly pool.

The insweep action,along with recovering the feet at the same time should naturally raise your torso.

I didn't know the kick recovery is supposed to have that effect. I'll experiment with that, as well as consider the other suggestions you, tpost2 and mlabresh gave.



Allen Stark
March 2nd, 2013, 01:07 PM
When you recover your feet by bending only at the knees the action is going to cause the lower half of the body to sink.The teeter-totter effect raises the front half of your body.If you recover your feet by coming forward at the hips,as was the practice in the old "flat style"BR then you don't get this effect.You also greatly increase your drag with the flat style.

March 2nd, 2013, 05:44 PM
I'm no breastroker, however, the best breastrokers I know NEVER actually lift their head. You get your breath when you lift your body as a result of the insweep. You should never lift up your head and look to the far wall. (Trust me, the wall will be there). You should be looking down and slightly ahead as you swim breastroke.

Watch the breastroke heats, 90% of the swimmers will be moving their heads up and down like saying "yes" in a slow fashion. kThey are doing it wrong. There should be no head/neck movement at all.

March 5th, 2013, 01:29 PM
Experimenting, I notice I do get a little head-raising effect when I quickly recover my legs and my body pivots at my hips, but I've been doing the leg recovery too late in my stroke for it to help. I'll see what I can do about that.

Anyway, I think most of my problem is that I exhale everything (through my nose, to keep the water out) immediately after inhaling, which causes me to lose my buoyancy and down I go. So I'll try humming (to slow down the outgoing air flow to keep most of my buoyancy but still keep the water out of the nose), and forcefully exhaling the rest (again, through the nose) while surfacing to inhale (through the mouth). That, doing small, quick, accelerating arm movements with a strong insweep, and possibly Allen's idea of strategically timed kick recovery should do the trick.


March 6th, 2013, 12:26 AM
All of the above. Try to push your chin out & forward with the final sweep of your hands to see if that helps.

March 8th, 2013, 05:52 PM
The phases of the Breastroke Pull are:
1 streamline
2 outsweep
3 insweep
4 thrust
5 streamline

Breathing & LIFT occurs during the insweep
Hard to fix what you're doing sight unseen
Get one on one technique instruction or make a vid put it on YouTube & give us the link
Make a video