Last week I talked a lot about the importance of switching up your strokes to help keep your body in muscular balance. Swimming more than just freestyle will help prevent overuse injuries, correct your posture (or at least avoid “swimmer’s posture”), and help tone more muscles in your body. While I mentioned backstroke was the second easiest stroke to learn, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the most commonly performed. If you look in any recreational swimming pool, most of the participants are likely to be swimming either freestyle or breaststroke. That brings us to learning our next swimming stroke – the breaststroke.
Breaststroke is a very rhythmic stroke. It can be very relaxing or very challenging, depending on the pace in which you swim. It can help increase your lung capacity and function since it requires longer breath holding than the other strokes (especially off of the turns). This week, I am going to breakdown breaststroke into its more basic components. Timing is very important if you want to achieve an efficient stroke, so try and focus on the technique before you try and add any speed.
While breaststroke may be one of the most commonly performed strokes, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the easiest to master. Breaststroke has a lot to do with timing. If you kick too early, you won’t be able to glide in the water as smoothly. If you pull back your arms too slowly or late, you’ll lose a lot of your forward momentum. Not to worry, however, as with anything new in life, practice makes perfect. If it’s easier, think of breaststroke as two separate parts:
- Outward sweep
- Inward sweep
While watching the video below, try and notice the pattern of the movement. His legs seem to be kicking like a frog, and his arms almost make an outline of the top part of a question mark. Phillip Toriello, whose videos I posted in the previous two blogs, explains breaststroke:
Some Additional Tips/Tricks:
- When working on timing, “Pull and Breathe, Kick then Glide.”
- It’s important to remember to keep your foot flexed.
To focus more on the kick of breaststroke, check out the video below.
You may have noticed, swimming tends to use a ton of muscles in your body. That’s one of the reasons it’s great for exercise. Swimming provides a full-body workout that increases your lung capacity and helps to tone muscles. Some of the muscles used in breaststroke include your latissimus dorsi (back muscles), pectoralis major (chest muscles), biceps and triceps (arm muscles), brachialis, brachioradialis, and deltoids (shoulder muscles). Some of the muscles used in your legs during breaststroke include glutes (butt muscle), quads (thigh muscles), and your gastroc and soleus (calf muscles). You use a lot to these muscles in day-to-day actions like walking, going up the stairs, and pulling things towards you. Check out the video below to see the muscles highlighted while in action.
As with all of the swimming strokes, your core is constantly engaged. Referencing the same picture I chose last week, you can see the muscles primarily used in breaststroke highlighted in yellow below.
Written by Mckinzie Halkola, Fitness Intern at Elite Sports Club – Brookfield
Mckinzie will be receiving her B.S. in Kinesiology with an emphasis in exercise and fitness in August of 2018. She was captain of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh’s swim and dive team, was named two-time swimmer of the week by the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC), Athlete of the Week by the UWO athletic department, and made second-team all-conference for her efforts in the 200-yard backstroke. Her certifications include Adult and Child First Aid/CPR/AED from the American Red Cross (ARC) as well as a lifeguarding certification from the ARC.