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Thread: Newbie needs help with Breaststroke technique

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    Newbie needs help with Breaststroke technique

    I'm 38 years old and started swimming for fitness about 3 months ago. I learned basic breaststroke in my late 20s but haven't practiced much back then.

    Here is a video of my breaststroke swim.
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/ayvvw7j2km...e%202.MOV?dl=0

    If I sprint, it takes me about 33 seconds for 25m and 2:27 for 100m. I can maintain 2:40 per 100m when I swim long distances like 1000m, without getting tired.

    I have two modest goals - Swim 25m in 25 seconds and 100m in 2min. How do I quickly reach these goals? Is my problem my poor technique or lack of strength (I'm skinny)?

    Thanks in advance.

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    Re: Newbie needs help with Breaststroke technique

    Thatís not bad at all. I would just point out that your lower body seems to be dropping in the water at various points during your stroke, putting you at an angle against the water instead of horizontal in the water. That must be slowing you down. Can you keep your hips closer to the surface?

    Also it seems like youíre swimming kind of deep in the water, and to reach the surface to breath and pull, you have to drop your lower body to lift your upper body like a see saw. If you can swim closer to the surface of the water, you can raise your upper body without having to drop your lower body so much.

  3. #3
    Very Active Member Allen Stark's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie needs help with Breaststroke technique

    You have a reasonably good kick. With your pull,it starts off well,but I think it would be easier if it was wider. You are not keeping your elbows near the surface throughout the pull and you are pulling too far back. Your hands should never be pulled back past your shoulder. Because they are pulled so far back you are not able to recover them as a smooth transition from insweep to recovery. This is further complicated, that since your pull is so narrow there is very little insweep, making it more difficult to get a smooth transition. The insweep/recovery should be one smooth flowing motion. You are essentially stopping your hand motion at the end of the pull. This is causing you to lose momentum and as a consequence your hips are dropping. The good news is that if you eliminate this dead spot you will go much faster.
    "To strive,to seek,to find,and not to yield" Tennyson
    Allen

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    Re: Newbie needs help with Breaststroke technique

    Thanks a lot for the suggestions, folks.

    My hips seem to fall down so much. Is my pull the only reason for that? Do I also need to force my hips up (somehow?) before the kick? Are there any drills for improving my pull and hip position?

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    Very Active Member Sojerz's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie needs help with Breaststroke technique

    You are basically swimming BR at about a 35 degree angle and bobbing up and down to breath as you swim. Think about getting to a horizontal position. As Allen indicated, stopping your stroke makes you slow up and sink (bob down). But, BR is about 75% kick and I would recommend working on that first and getting into a horizontal position in the water.

    1. Get a kick board and snorkel and use them to do kick drills with your hands resting on the board and face in the water using the snorkel to breath while you practice your BR kick. Watch videos and get coaching/instruction on good BR kick. BR kick requires developing flexibility, so start slowly to avoid damaging knees and groin muscles.

    2. Sculling drills will help you learn to catch water and help with your BR pull (watch videos of sculling drills). You can use a pull buoy to keep your legs still and to float your hips up while you scull. Keep the sculling continuous so that you learn what it feels like to not stop your arm strokes. Expand from sculling to a full BR pull. Again watch videos and listen to coaching/instruction about the BR pull. You can use the snorkel to avoid breathing and to stay horizontal in the water as you pull. Then work on your breathing without the snorkel (note that the higher you raise your head, the lower your hips will tend to go).

    3. BR requires a good streamline and glide and those require learning and practice too - more videos and instruction.

    4. Once you are swimming BR horizontal with the proper kick, arm stoke, and breathing, you may want to modify your BR for faster swimming. For lack of better descriptor: "caterpillar" style BR with a lunge that skilled fast BRers currently use.

    Good luck with it and keep on working at it.
    Some guys they just give up living and start dying little by little, piece by piece. Some guys come home from work and wash up and go raciní in the street. (Bruce Springsteen, 1978)

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    Very Active Member Swimspire's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie needs help with Breaststroke technique

    Hi there, it's great to see that you are looking to improve your breaststroke! You have received some great tips from the other forumites. Adding to that, here is a link to some breaststroke drills demonstrated by Estonian breaststroker Merle Liivand:



    Your best course of action would be to find a coach who can monitor your stroke. Beyond that here are three steps towards improving your body position in the breaststroke:

    First, start out doing breaststroke kick with a kickboard held in front of you. Be sure that your body position (legs, hips) remains closer to the surface of the water while you are kicking.

    Next, you can use either a smaller kickboard or pullbuoy held out in front of you. Continue to kick, making sure to keep your body position horizontal.

    Third, you can kick with no support, simply keep your hands extended in front of you in a streamline position.

    While you are practicing these drills, you can also practice your breath timing, by lifting your head to take a seamless breath while you are in the process of the kick cycle.

    Finally, once you have mastered all of these steps, you can incorporate the pull into your stroke. Start off with a small pull originating from the streamline position, and then gradually increase the pull without your hips dropping and without pausing. By this time, you will have strengthened the muscles needed to keep you horizontal in the water, and will be able to introduce the arms into the stroke.

    Best of luck and keep us posted on how you progress!
    Last edited by Swimspire; December 11th, 2017 at 05:29 PM.

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    Re: Newbie needs help with Breaststroke technique

    Excellent advice from Allen and drills from swimspire. Thanks, Ill find those usefull

    One-eye king, compare where your hands are at the end of stroke/insweep to the athelete in the vimeo video posted. BTW, you have to remove the added space in the vimeo link (before the v) to get it to work

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    aka Elaine-iaK & Aqua Dog ElaineK's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie needs help with Breaststroke technique

    That's a great video of breaststroke drills, Julia! Thanks so much for posting it; I added it to my YouTube favorites!
    http://ElaineiaKsTravels.wordpress.com

    ~ Believing in your dreams can be far more rewarding than living by your limitations ~Karla Peterson

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    Re: Newbie needs help with Breaststroke technique

    I tried Allen's suggestion and saw an immediate improvement. I could swim 25m in 29 sec (originally 33sec) and 100m in 2:14. I stopped bringing my hands behind my shoulder during the pull. I also tried to widen my pull and keep the elbows high but I won't know how well I did that until I shoot another video.

    Thanks so much Allen, Sojerz and Swimspire for the suggestions. I'm going to try the drills later this week.

    The "coaches" at my pool are just friendly kids who can swim. They're not very technical. They tell me I'm doing just fine when I ask for their feedback. Their breaststroke technique is worse than mine. In India we don't have a big sports culture. If you can jump into water and not drown, you're already a genius. It is the kingdom of the blind here, and I hope to be the one eyed man, LOL.

    I'm just going to video tape my swims and post them here for feedback.
    Last edited by One-Eyed-King; December 12th, 2017 at 05:46 AM.

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    Very Active Member Sojerz's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie needs help with Breaststroke technique

    I think Swimspire's progression with a kickboard, buoy, and streamline is great. The drills in Merle's video are great too, but keep in mind that she is a very accomplished world class Breastroker, so don't get frustrated if it takes awhile to be able to do them as she does. I'm sure it took her many years to become that proficient.

    Hopefully you have access to pool toys (kickboard, pull buoy, swim snorkel, and a mesh bag to tote them in), either at the pool or on the web, but if not let me know.

    Hyderabad looks like a neat spot in India!
    Some guys they just give up living and start dying little by little, piece by piece. Some guys come home from work and wash up and go raciní in the street. (Bruce Springsteen, 1978)

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    Very Active Member Allen Stark's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie needs help with Breaststroke technique

    Here are a couple of drills. 1) face the lane line in shallow water. Bend over so the line runs under your arms at the shoulder. Now do your pull, the lane line will keep you from pulling back too far.
    2) Swim BR pull with dolphin kick with fins. This should keep your hips up while you work on the pull.
    "To strive,to seek,to find,and not to yield" Tennyson
    Allen

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    Re: Newbie needs help with Breaststroke technique

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/vmwx39wc3k...Dec15.MOV?dl=0

    This is the video with slightly better pull. I'm consistently not bringing my hands behind my shoulder. But it seems my elbows aren't always high.

    I'm still angled and swimming 1 feet below the surface! But I'm excited about the progress! (3 seconds improvement in 25m).

    Looking forward to trying some of these drills.

    Sojerz, thanks to Amazon, it seems like all these tools are available here as well.

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    aka Elaine-iaK & Aqua Dog ElaineK's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie needs help with Breaststroke technique

    Quote Originally Posted by One-Eyed-King View Post
    But I'm excited about the progress! (3 seconds improvement in 25m).
    Congratulations on your quick improvement! That just goes to show how important proper technique is in swimming. I'm sure you will improve your times as you continue to work on your technique. If there is one person to pay attention to on this thread and "The Breaststroke Lane" thread, it's King Frog (Allen Stark). He is the frogstroke expert!
    http://ElaineiaKsTravels.wordpress.com

    ~ Believing in your dreams can be far more rewarding than living by your limitations ~Karla Peterson

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    Very Active Member Allen Stark's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie needs help with Breaststroke technique

    Quote Originally Posted by ElaineK View Post
    Congratulations on your quick improvement! That just goes to show how important proper technique is in swimming. I'm sure you will improve your times as you continue to work on your technique. If there is one person to pay attention to on this thread and "The Breaststroke Lane" thread, it's King Frog (Allen Stark). He is the frogstroke expert!
    This is a big improvement.You are actually not as deep as before, but you are swimming a bit "uphill".I think to get you hips higher you need to add some undulation to the stroke. As you do the insweep, push your hips forward (towards the bottom of the pool) and then as you shoot your hands forward, vigorously straighten out you back(like a dolphin kick.) The breaststroke pull/dolphin kick with fins drill may help with the feel of this. A really good, but fairly difficult, drill for this is swim BR kick with your arms by your side, so that the only way to breath is with a good undulation.
    Another thing i noticed is that when you recover your legs, your knees are wider than your feet. This increases drag. Work on keeping your knees closer together, about 1-2 fists apart.
    "To strive,to seek,to find,and not to yield" Tennyson
    Allen

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    Re: Newbie needs help with Breaststroke technique

    Allen, the quick improvement is thanks to your excellent observation and suggestion

    Further improvements might take time as my dolphin kick technique is also weak. Should I order long fins or short fins for my drills?

    It looks like all the good swimmers (Merle Liivand and other Youtube videos) actually shoot their hands slightly downwards whereas I keep them straight, parallel to the floor. Do I also need to shoot my hands downwards?

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    Re: Newbie needs help with Breaststroke technique

    Quote Originally Posted by ElaineK View Post
    If there is one person to pay attention to on this thread and "The Breaststroke Lane" thread, it's King Frog (Allen Stark). He is the frogstroke expert!
    TRUE THAT!

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    Very Active Member Allen Stark's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie needs help with Breaststroke technique

    Quote Originally Posted by One-Eyed-King View Post
    Allen, the quick improvement is thanks to your excellent observation and suggestion

    Further improvements might take time as my dolphin kick technique is also weak. Should I order long fins or short fins for my drills?

    It looks like all the good swimmers (Merle Liivand and other Youtube videos) actually shoot their hands slightly downwards whereas I keep them straight, parallel to the floor. Do I also need to shoot my hands downwards?
    The conventional wisdom is to shoot your hands straight forward. Many good swimmers aim them a little downward, but the recommendation is forward.
    I like the long fins. I am doing one kick per pull, timing it like it would be with a BR kick and the short fins throw my timing off.
    "To strive,to seek,to find,and not to yield" Tennyson
    Allen

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    Re: Newbie needs help with Breaststroke technique

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/66une4ycpt...b%202.MOV?dl=0

    This is my latest breaststroke video. I'm undulating a bit so my body is straighter during the kick. But I still feel like I'm lower in the water than I'm supposed to be.

    I wasn't able to properly do the breaststroke pull with dolphin kick. I wasn't getting the timing right.

    Allen, I would love to hear your feedback!

  19. #19
    Very Active Member Allen Stark's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie needs help with Breaststroke technique

    You are much better in body position. Your pull is still narrow and you are pausing at the end of the pull back before the recovery. The insweep should transition seamlessly into the recovery. You have very little insweep, making that difficult. Also, with your pull you are leading with your elbows instead of getting your elbows above your hands, kind of like EVF in free, or as I was taught many years ago, like reaching over a barrel.
    "To strive,to seek,to find,and not to yield" Tennyson
    Allen

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    Re: Newbie needs help with Breaststroke technique

    Thanks, Allen! It's possible that my freestyle EVF is also not that great. Do you know any good drills?

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