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View Full Version : Breaststroke Technique Question--What to do with the Hands



Midas
July 24th, 2007, 05:27 PM
Hi all, I'm new back into swimming after taking the last 14 or so years "off". When I was last swimming, the wave style breaststroke was really just coming into its own and I never fully got it down. I'm trying to train it now but I have a question--are people still pulling their hands out of the water with each stroke? These seems like a terrible waste of effort if you're just going to push back down into a streamline... Thanks for your thoughts!

Keith

ande
July 24th, 2007, 05:37 PM
if you can't swim breastroke
perhaps the best thing to do with your hands is
pray
especially if you are swimming an IM


copy what the best does
http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=brendan+hansen&search=Search

actually drop by
http://www.breaststroke.info
and you'll find many answers


Hi all, I'm new back into swimming after taking the last 14 or so years "off". When I was last swimming, the wave style breastroke was really just coming into its own and I never fully got it down. I'm trying to train it now but I have a question--are people still pulling their hands out of the water with each stroke? These seems like a terrible waste of effort if you're just going to push back down into a streamline... Thanks for your thoughts!

Keith

Midas
July 24th, 2007, 05:50 PM
if you can't swim breastroke
perhaps the best thing to do with your hands is
pray
especially if you are swimming an IM


copy what the best does
http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=brendan+hansen&search=Search

actually drop by
http://www.breaststroke.info
and you'll find many answers

Uh.... Thanks? I CAN swim breaststroke. I want to know what the current views are on technique. I've been to both sites and still can't really tell (the camera's too far away and the video quality is too poor).

scyfreestyler
July 24th, 2007, 05:54 PM
Talk to Jeff Commings. He is the breast guru around here. I suspect he will chime in before too long.

aztimm
July 24th, 2007, 08:05 PM
I didn't think you could bring your hands out of the water on breast, but maybe I'm mistaken?

cowsvils
July 24th, 2007, 08:53 PM
You can on the recovery. From what I've seen, it doesn't seem like many people are bringing their arms all the way out of the water. What does seem to be happening is that a combination of the position of the arms and the lunge creates a situation in which the arms are above the water, and then as a resulting of lunging forward/down the arms naturally start to go under the water about halfway through the recovery. SCY said though, Jeff Commings is the true guru

The Fortress
July 24th, 2007, 09:36 PM
Let's not forget Allen Stark and Jim Clemmons!

Seems like I see Hansen with his hands skimming above the water on the recovery.

I'd be interested in what the breaststrokers have to say about the motion of the underwater pull, as well. I feel like my hands are slipping water.

Midas
July 24th, 2007, 09:50 PM
Let's not forget Allen Stark and Jim Clemmons!

Seems like I see Hansen with his hands skimming above the water on the recovery.

I'd be interested in what the breaststrokers have to say about the motion of the underwater pull, as well. I feel like my hands are slipping water.

Hard to argue with the world record holder, but it seems to me like skimming the water would create resistance... Why not keep them just below the surface? What am I missing?

Thanks for all of the responses so far!

Allen Stark
July 25th, 2007, 12:19 AM
It depends on how high you come up when you breath.You want to shoot your hands forward right below your head. If you come way up like Amanda Beard your hands will be out of the water. Hansen is lower and his hands skim the surface. Liesel Jones is much lower and her hands are below the surface.The important thing is to lunge into streamline ASAP.Fort,are you accelerating your hands through out the pull.Many people accelerate the outsweep and slow at the insweep which will cause them to lose the water. A good drill is to swim breaststroke with paddles without using the loops so that only the pressure of the water holds them in place.

NKMD
July 25th, 2007, 08:28 AM
Keith,
Your question is very good.
Based on the usms rules-your ELBOW MUST STAY UNDERWATER even during the recovery phase. see 101.2.2 Swimmers have gotten DQ'ed for their arms recovering above the water.

To do the wave breastroke, a lot has to do with timing of your kick and tempo. Alternate fly and breast kick with your arm pull is a good drill. Remember your arms and legs work together. Since breastroke is a barge stroke, you want to decrease as much drag as you can.
Drills-Drills-Drills will help you get your feel and timing back

To do Amanda's breastroke you need strong legs, most common mistake is that people lift upward not forward, they just pop up and there is no forward motion. Which is a wasted effort
Amanda also has a wide pull versus Tara.
To do Tara's breastroke, you need tempo in your stroke she has a narrow pull.

To determine which stroke fits you would depend on how efficient is your kick, how propulsive is your kick, how strong is your pull is.

Work with your timing first, and play with the size of your pull with your kick.

For your kick, remember heels to hiney. People have a tendency to let their knees lead.

Good Luck and welcome back to swimming...

The Fortress
July 25th, 2007, 11:00 AM
The important thing is to lunge into streamline ASAP.Fort,are you accelerating your hands through out the pull.Many people accelerate the outsweep and slow at the insweep which will cause them to lose the water. A good drill is to swim breaststroke with paddles without using the loops so that only the pressure of the water holds them in place.

Unfortunately, I think I might be doing what you suggest, Allen. I'm also not lunging into the streamline that well due to a poor kick. Having read Nadine's comments, I think I need a narrower pull. I was experimenting with that yesterday and it seemed to help my forward momentum. The Amanda style is definitely not for me.

knelson
July 25th, 2007, 11:50 AM
Hard to argue with the world record holder, but it seems to me like skimming the water would create resistance... Why not keep them just below the surface? What am I missing?

Water creates much more resistance than air. Recovering your hands over the water will slow you down much less than recovering them underwater. The fact at least part of the arm must remain underwater at all times during breaststroke is the primary reason it is the slowest competitive swimming stroke.

Jeff Commings
July 25th, 2007, 12:09 PM
Here I am, chiming in.

You are allowed to recover your hands over the water on breaststroke, but as you might have seen and heard, all sorts of great swimmers recover in varying degrees. Because there is no absolute way to efficiently recover your arms on breaststroke (as opposed to backstroke or freestyle), work to find what suits you best.

I recover my hands underwater, with a very slight skimming of the surface, for the reason you mentioned, Midas: why recover so far above the water if they're just going right back in? But to do the wave breaststroke properly, you must have some type of arc in the recovery to facilitate the body moving in that same motion.

Start by doing a lot of breaststroke pulling, either with fins or without them. In either case, do a slight dolphin kick and work on a fast arm recovery. Give your body a few weeks -- four to five of constant work -- to find what suits your body type best.

As I say many times, it's great to watch the best in the world swim perfectly. But it's best to find what works best for you.

Midas
July 25th, 2007, 03:27 PM
Allen, Nadine, Knelson and Jeff--thanks very much for your thoughts! I think I need to spend some time doing dolphin kick breaststroke to get the wave motion down. I'll probably end up more like Jeff and stay mostly below the water but it'll be a worthwhile experiment.

Also, I agree with Jeff that watching the best and trying to copy them (especially in breaststroke) is not necessarily a good idea. They may have quirks that work for them (or their body type) that aren't universal. And of the four strokes, breaststroke definitely seems to be the one with the most variety in technique.

knelson
July 25th, 2007, 04:10 PM
Just for the record, it's breaststroke, not breastroke. I hate to be the spelling police, but I think we should at least get the spellings of the four strokes correct :)

ALM
July 25th, 2007, 05:49 PM
A good drill is to swim breaststroke with paddles without using the loops so that only the pressure of the water holds them in place.

I hadn't heard of this drill before. I will try it. If I'm doing the stroke correctly, will the paddles stay in place even during the recovery? It's hard for me to picture that. :drown:

Anna Lea

Midas
July 25th, 2007, 06:09 PM
Just for the record, it's breaststroke, not breastroke. I hate to be the spelling police, but I think we should at least get the spellings of the four strokes correct :)

I just swim it--I don't spell it! Thanks for correcting me! :p

(I went back and fixed all of my posts too!)

Allen Stark
July 25th, 2007, 09:13 PM
Anna,yes.I read about this drill and it seemed impossible,but it just takes a little practice.If you have any dead spots in your stroke the paddles will fall off. I like to think of breaststroke as not having an arm recovery,but rather that the arm extension/lunge forward is an extension of the insweep.

Karen Duggan
July 26th, 2007, 12:36 AM
Anybody, or does anyone know anybody, that completely dismantled their breaststroke and started over from the beginning? I'm thinking that's what I need to do. If I go slower than 2:40 again in the 200 I'm going to scream! I used to be in the high 2:20's, low 2:30s and now a 2:40 is a good swim! My husband said, "Oh dear, you WERE a breaststroker."

As I write this he says that he'll fix it...

Help I'm being hijac....

ed.

...The other side of the story...by someone who apparently is "Sooooo fast he doesn't even have to swim to make all American..."

When Karen gets on the computer I usually go downstairs or play with the dog but I can't let this go any further. When I start getting slammed in the magazine as well as online well...

I have offered and continue to offer to work on Karen's breastSTROKE. I don't claim to be a great breaststroker. Quite the contrary but I've had a lot of good coaches make chicken salad out of chicken &*^%$ (I was just told I couldn't finish that sentence) and I thought that their input might help. It's simple, effective but not at all flashy. The offer stands....of course with some trepidation. The last time I made a suggestion to her about her swimming it was me telling her to "get tough and swim another set with me." That was about an hour before she ended up in the emergency room with meningitis. Still, maybe things will be better this time....

Fearfully, I return control of this device to her... -Pat Duggan

And now back to our regularly scheduled attacks. This time when Pat "helps" me, I'll probably give birth!

Good night all, and someone, Jeff?, please answer my original question.

meldyck
July 26th, 2007, 08:49 AM
Anybody, or does anyone know anybody, that completely dismantled their breaststroke and started over from the beginning?

Karen,

I did that very thing beginning in 1999 when I got a stroke coach who I had seen teaching BR the way I thought I wanted to swim. This year, eight years later, I finally finished the conversion. My 100 BR is now 2.5 seconds faster than my fastest college time and 1.25 seconds faster than my best-ever master's swim. In other words, it really is a lifetime best, at age 65.

On the way out to my 100 BR at nationals, I also got a lifetime best in the 50.

I would recommend making changes but be prepared to take years to find the right groove. One thing you may notice is that once you begin to tinker with the stroke your endurance will go down the tubes. That will take some time to regain, so shorter distances will get there before longer ones.

Jeff Commings
July 26th, 2007, 11:39 AM
I changed my breaststroke twice in my career. The first time was in 1994. I was told to lift my head higher to help my body position. It didn't work. I was swimming slower with the "new" stroke because my hand speed slowed down considerably.

I didn't get the opportunity to fully change it until 1997, to the stroke I use today. It's a mix of the stroke I swam as a teenager, with a little wave action mixed in. It works wonders for me.

So Karen, I know what you mean about changing your stroke and going slower. Now's the time to fix it. But you have to be seriously committed to doing it, or it won't happen.

Start by understanding the type of stroke that works for you through drills. Once you find that happy medium, continue those drills, and don't change.

It took me six months to fully get the stroke I learned in 1997 down. I still have to do drills to keep my mind focused on it, but it's not as bad as it was then.

Allen Stark
July 26th, 2007, 12:13 PM
I felt really good about my breaststroke and then went to the 2003 OTC camp where I discovered a panoply of problems. It took 6 mo. of work before I felt comfortable with the new stroke.When I did I began swimming times I hadn't done in 9 years.I read one famous coach(I think it was Marsh) has his swimmers start from scratch every year to relearn their strokes.

Karen Duggan
July 26th, 2007, 12:34 PM
I haven't had a breaststroke since, I think, 1999. I had hurt my knee skiing (last run of the day!) in 1997 and I couldn't do br, so I switched to back. That year (97) I went 1:03 and 2:16 for the backs :) I was happy, I didn't know I could do a decent backstroke.

Anyway, when I went back to swimming br "it" wasn't there. My arms were NEVER tired, even after a 200, and suddenly they were exhausted. I've always had the stronger kick part of my stroke- gone! I just have no feel. Roque Santos tried to help me do the wave, and then I was caught with some half-bred wave/flat stroke!!!!

WWAAAHHHHHH- I know, but it's frustrating because I don't know how to go about getting something back that 1) was natural, and 2) I took for granted (so I didn't really pay too much attention!)

smontanaro
July 26th, 2007, 12:41 PM
I had hurt my knee skiing (last run of the day!) ...

If you hurt your knee skiing isn't that sort of by definition the last run of the day? ;)

Skip Montanaro

Midas
July 26th, 2007, 05:59 PM
I have to say that the one stroke that I don't feel has come completely back to me since getting back into the pool after a 13 year hiatus is the breaststroke. A lot of that has to do with my leg strength, I think. I have tree trunk legs as do many breaststrokers and my kick was a big part of whatever limited ability I possessed as an age grouper. I think working on the kick is a great place to start swimming breaststroke faster... That and learning the "wave action"...

ALM
July 26th, 2007, 06:14 PM
There was a woman from out of town who swam with our team last week. She had these new Speedo breaststroke fins:

http://www.kastawayswimwear.com/product.asp?dept_id=22&pf_id=2516

I was quite skeptical. I'm always worried about hurting my knees. (I tried some other fins a few years ago that were supposedly OK for breaststroke, and they immediately hurt my knees.)

Anyway, I tried her fins for 50 meters. WOW. They are unique. They didn't seem to put any strain on my knees at all. When I got back to the wall, she said, "Now take them off and try to swim." It was a strange feeling. I think the fins, if used regularly, would help to speed up the "whip" portion of the kick.

Anna Lea

Karen Duggan
July 26th, 2007, 08:09 PM
Jeff, have you tried these fins? I've heard about them. I'm thinking I might give 'em a try.

The Fortress
July 26th, 2007, 08:16 PM
Jeff, have you tried these fins? I've heard about them. I'm thinking I might give 'em a try.

I got these fins for my daughter. She's been in a growth spurt for awhile and everything hurts -- knees, shoulders, ankles. But she said they definitely hurt her knees and she won't use them right now. So they sit in my closet. I guess I could give them a whirl.

imspoiled
July 27th, 2007, 11:33 AM
I love my breaststroke fins! It is not my strongest stroke, so I got them hoping to improve my kick. They really force you to kick correctly. I lent them to some of the BS kids on the team and they called them "turbo jets".

One thing to note: They are no good for anything else. They make the feet really light, and the design is such that trying to dolphin kick (even during the pull-down) or flutter kick is totally useless. I tried them during an IM set and had to pull them off, it was just :notworking:.

Jeff Commings
July 27th, 2007, 02:43 PM
I've never tried the breaststroke fins, but if someone at the pool had them, I'd try them out.

That'll never happen, because everyone on my team is a freestyler.

The Fortress
July 27th, 2007, 04:34 PM
I've never tried the breaststroke fins, but if someone at the pool had them, I'd try them out.

That'll never happen, because everyone on my team is a freestyler.

That is so sad . :shakeshead:

OK, Dana, my BR kick absolutely sucks, so I'm trying them out my next practice.

cowsvils
July 27th, 2007, 07:25 PM
Imspoiled, have you found that breast fins have improved your kick a lot? Or is it more of a regular fins effect, where you feel super fast with them on, and then once you take them off you've lost all your feel for the water and feel like you are going backwards?

The Fortress
July 28th, 2007, 10:45 PM
Imspoiled, have you found that breast fins have improved your kick a lot? Or is it more of a regular fins effect, where you feel super fast with them on, and then once you take them off you've lost all your feel for the water and feel like you are going backwards?

I do not feel like I have lost "all feel for the water" when I take my fins off. :dedhorse:

Can't you physically and mentally factor in how you feel with and without fins? Despite a seemingly super-prevalent anti-fin bias, fins have some uses. They don't need to be eliminated as a training tool or shoulder aid. :dedhorse: I have to say, lately, with all the anti-fin rants, I'm starting to enjoy beating people who never use fins.

The Fortress
July 29th, 2007, 11:09 PM
I love my breaststroke fins! It is not my strongest stroke, so I got them hoping to improve my kick. They really force you to kick correctly. I lent them to some of the BS kids on the team and they called them "turbo jets".

Dana:

If you call it BS, it makes it hard for us anti-evilstrokers to disagree that's it BS!

I tried out Mini-Fort's little BR fins today. I liked them too! I actually did an entire set of 10 x 50 BR -- a minor miracle for me. I think it helped my kick. It forced me to narrow the kick substantially and helped me concentrate on the forward lunge. I still need the BR clinic though.

BTW, on the BS thing, one of Mini-Fort's friends, a buddy in NY she sees at all the zones meets, qualified for the Olympic Trials last weekend in the 200 BR. She's freakin' 12. Went a 2:34 in the 200 meter BR. Holy shi-it.

imspoiled
July 30th, 2007, 11:35 AM
Qualifying for OT at 12 is remarkable. Didn't Amanda Beard swim in her first at 14?

Cowsvils: Yes, I do feel like the BrS (better Fort?) fins have helped my kick. No, I do not loose my feel for the water without them. I use the fins mainly for kick sets. Due to the way the fins work my kick, I found that my timing gets thrown off if I try to use them for swim sets.

Fort: At the risk of firing up the breaststrokers out there, "BS" is how I feel about it. The abbreviation seems appropriate. I'll never describe myself as a breaststroker (you'll understand why at zones), but in an effort to be a well rounded swimmer, I make an attempt at it from time-to-time. Kick sets are also good for the inner thigh muscles.

Now for the mommy brag-- My daughter (14) won the 50 breast by more than 1 second at the summer league "A" championships over the weekend!:woot:

SwimStud
July 30th, 2007, 11:47 AM
Fort, Spoiled...don't make me come into this thread and start whapping...

BR, Breaststroke, Realstroke, Divinestroke. Same thing...just not BS.

The Fortress
July 30th, 2007, 11:51 AM
Qualifying for OT at 12 is remarkable. Didn't Amanda Beard swim in her first at 14?

Cowsvils: Yes, I do feel like the BrS (better Fort?) fins have helped my kick. No, I do not loose my feel for the water without them. I use the fins mainly for kick sets. Due to the way the fins work my kick, I found that my timing gets thrown off if I try to use them for swim sets.

Fort: At the risk of firing up the breaststrokers out there, "BS" is how I feel about it. The abbreviation seems appropriate. I'll never describe myself as a breaststroker (you'll understand why at zones), but in an effort to be a well rounded swimmer, I make an attempt at it from time-to-time. Kick sets are also good for the inner thigh muscles.

Now for the mommy brag-- My daughter (14) won the 50 breast by more than 1 second at the summer league "A" championships over the weekend!:woot:

First off, yay for Mini-Imspoiled for her BR victory! My 12 year old won the 50 BR this weekend too! And the 100 IM -- she can officially really kick my butt in that event now. Where did our daughters get the BR genes?!

I'll try the BR fins on kick sets too. Did some regular BR with them. I didn't think almost anything helped the inner thighs. Worth it just for that!

The 12 year's name is Annie Zhu. She's phenomenal to watch. Beautiful strokes. But she's almost 6 feet tall at age 12. Here's the link to the SW news article http://www.swimmingworldmagazine.com/lane9/news/15226.asp.

SwimStud
July 30th, 2007, 12:00 PM
Where did our daughters get the BR genes?!


*tries to look innocent*

Hahaha :thhbbb:

imspoiled
July 30th, 2007, 12:03 PM
Fort, Spoiled...don't make me come into this thread and start whapping...

BR, Breaststroke, Realstroke, Divinestroke. Same thing...just not BS.


Divinestroke???? Now that's BS! :mooning:

imspoiled
July 30th, 2007, 12:06 PM
First off, yay for Mini-Imspoiled for her BR victory! My 12 year old won the 50 BR this weekend too! And the 100 IM -- she can officially really kick my butt in that event now. Where did our daughters get the BR genes?!



Yeah mini-Fort!
Breaststroke genes... I figured it was a genetic mutation, like having one brown eye and one blue eye.

poolraat
July 30th, 2007, 02:27 PM
First off, yay for Mini-Imspoiled for her BR victory! My 12 year old won the 50 BR this weekend too! And the 100 IM -- she can officially really kick my butt in that event now. Where did our daughters get the BR genes?!


Congrats to your your Minis, Dana and Leslie. Since we seem to be bragging up our kids, my 14 yo son won the 200 fly and 400IM at the Snake River LC Summer Champs last weekend.

imspoiled
July 30th, 2007, 02:49 PM
Congrats to your son Floyd! Those are some tough races. :applaud::applaud: