I can’t swim. I can only swim in about 2ft of water because when my breaststroke arms get tired, I put them on the floor. How can I stop my arms from getting tired, and how can I swim in a little bit deeper water Help!
Two issues need to be addressed here. Firstly you need to build up your confidence with swimming in deeper water and secondly, there needs to be a change made to your breaststroke technique.
Let’s deal with your breaststroke technique first of all. Breaststroke gets its power and momentum from the whip kick leg action. The legs drive back and around to give the stroke its thrust, and the arms are there to balance and assist.
Momentum is then maintained with a long glide where the arms and legs are straight and together simultaneously.
Many people make the mistake of using their arms to haul themselves through the water. This only makes the stroke less efficient, leading to higher energy consumption. This would explain why your arms are getting tired quickly.
Try kicking your legs whilst holding a float or kickboard. This will develop your breaststroke leg kick technique and leg strength and stamina. It will probably be just as tiring, to begin with, but in time, your breaststroke will become stronger.
Ok, so on to your next issue and I’m afraid the answer is an obvious one: get out of the shallow water and swim in deeper water!
Notice I say ‘deeper’ water and not necessarily deep water. By that, I mean swim where you can stand up but not where you can put your hands down on the pool floor.
The only way to become more confident and stronger swimming out of your depth is to venture there gradually. Whilst you are swimming in 2ft of water where you can put your hands on the floor, you always will do just that, purely out of habit because you can.
Try swimming in the water of about shoulder depth and practice stopping and standing mid-swim, to convince yourself you can stand up. Then challenge yourself to swim that little further each time you get tired.
This will push your swimming fitness that bit further each time, and together with your newfound breaststroke leg kick, you will be swimming for longer and off into deeper water before you know it.
My best-selling book The Complete Beginners Guide To Swimming contains aspects of learning to swim plus over 80 separate swimming exercises to help all parts of basic swimming, including breaststroke leg kick and standing up whilst swimming. You can download it, print out the parts you need and take them to your pool to try out. Click the link below for more information.
Can I use a woggle to develop breaststroke arms and the correct technique needed for stage 7?
By stage 7, I presume you mean ASA stage 7? The short answer is yes, you can. However, it is not ideal.
A woggle can be used to practice and develop breaststroke arm action because it allows you to move slowly. By swimming slowly, supported by the woggle under your arms, you can be precise about how your arms and mainly your hands move in the water.
The main drawback of using the woggle for breaststroke arms is that it restricts movement. With the woggle placed under the arms, you cannot tuck in your elbows at the end of the propulsive phase, and so the path of the hands is restricted.
This exercise is best used to learn and practice the arm action for breaststroke, but other exercises that involve push and glides or leg kicks will help develop the arm action in line with the leg kick and body position.
Remember, the leg kick for breaststroke provides most of the propulsion, and arm action is there to balance and assist.
My eBook How To Swim Breaststroke contains 20 separate exercises that help develop all parts of the technique, including the arm action. You can download it instantly, and the exercises are easy to follow. Print them out and take them to the pool to try out. Click the link below for more information.