I am currently trying to master breaststroke. In between lessons, I go back to the pool 1 - 2 times a week to practice. From watching other swimmers, I notice they can swim breaststroke effortlessly with their heads above water. Why can I not do it with my head above water? They make it look so effortless.
A smooth, effortless breaststroke swum with the head above the water surface comes from being completely relaxed during the stroke and having a body position that is angled slightly with the legs and feet deeper in the water.
There also needs to be a strong enough leg kick and arm pulls to help push and pull the body upwards slightly to enable to head to remain at the surface to breathe.
It has to be noted that swimming breaststroke with your head permanently above the water surface is technically incorrect. Also, and more importantly, the angled body position strains the back of the neck and the lower back.
You may envy these swimmers, but they are not doing themselves any favours!
If you want to ‘master’ breaststroke, as you put it, then learn to breathe out when your face is down and raise your head enough to inhale as you pull with your arms.
Smooth and effortless breaststroke is all about timing and coordination. Timing of the arm pull and leg kick to culminate in a glide, where the arms and legs are together and remain still for a couple of seconds.
The sequence to practice is ‘pull – breathe – kick – glide’. Practice this slowly, saying each stage in your head and then as you become used to it; you can begin to link the movements into one smooth stroke cycle.
You can even practice this laying over a chair in the comfort of your own home!
Another way to get the sequence fixed in your head is to ‘kick your hands forwards’. In other words, as your legs kick behind you, your hands should stretch forward into a glide. The harder and more powerful the leg kick, the longer the glide.
Eventually, as you begin to master the technique, you will, in turn, become more relaxed as you swim. Then you will find swimming breaststroke with your head above the water easier, but I recommend you keep it to a minimum.
Please tell me how to start breaststroke from a standing position to a horizontal flat position. From near the wall and in the middle of the water, around 3 or 4 feet depth water for persons of 5 feet.
Starting from the middle of the water can sometimes be scary, especially for a beginner or swimmer who lacks confidence.
Starting from a couple of feet above the water's surface can also be scary, as there is the feeling of falling into the water rather than swimming through it.
It can be tricky sometimes to get the boost you need to generate some momentum but at the same time not sink in the water to a point that causes you to become alarmed.
The most important point is to not start from completely upright. Bend your knees and bring your height to the water level, so your shoulders are submerged. Then with your chin on the water, push from the pool floor along the water's surface. I stress the point ‘along’ the water surface here. This is vital to getting a good confident start.
If you try to start from standing completely upright, the first direction you must go in is down, which usually results in going down much further than you want to. In other words, you will briefly sink under the water before coming to the surface again. A feeling that can make the most confident of beginners feel uneasy.
Start the level with the water surface and push away from the pool floor along the water. Begin with a stretch and then an arm pull, the arm pull being the first part of the breaststroke sequence. A reminder of the breaststroke sequence: ‘pull, breathe, kick glide’.
My ebook How To Swim Breaststroke contains over 20 separate swimming exercises to help all parts of breaststroke, including breathing and timing. 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.
I am learning breaststroke legs but my breaststroke legs are too high at the water's surface. My body seems to float at the top of the water. How can I correct this?
If your body floats very well in the water, which yours does, then breaststroke needs to be performed with your body positioned at a slight angle. In other words, with your head above the surface and your legs deeper down.
In some cases, breaststroke can be performed in an almost upright position. Although this position creates a large resistance and would appear to be counter-productive, it can sometimes be an effective way of learning how to control the body position, especially if your body naturally floats.
The most common mistake with breaststroke leg kicks is to kick from the knees, bending the knees so that the feet come out of the water and cannot kick around and provide any propulsion.
Try to bend at your hips as you lay in the water, drawing your knees underneath your body. That way, your feet will remain under the water and then be able to perform the powerful whip action required to generate some movement.
For some very easy-to-follow swimming exercises to help perfect breaststroke leg kick, download my eBook How To Swim Breaststroke. It contains 20 separate exercises covering all aspects of the breaststroke technique, including the leg kick and body position. Download it instantly, print out the exercises you need and take them to your pool to try them out. Click the link below for more information.