The breaststroke is slow but powerful.
The breaststroke is a traditional swimming stroke that requires swimmers to undulate through the water, outstretching their arms in forward-facing circles while bending and straightening the knees to glide forward. Though it is the slowest swim stroke, the breaststroke burns more calories and requires more energy than any other stroke according to Southern Pacific Masters Swimming.
Keeping your body level at the surface of the water is the most important part of learning the breaststroke technique, according to the BBC Sport Academy. Your shoulders should be in line and your hips should be flat in the water. By staying close to the surface, there will be hardly any splashing, which is in contrast to the splashing that happens when bobbing deeply in between strokes. Your arms and legs, however, should not breach the surface of the water.
During the breaststroke, your legs move in a somewhat awkward, frog-like motion. Bend your knees and bring your feet up to almost touch your buttocks, keeping your legs apart. Flex your feet so that the soles face the sky and bring your feet together. Push your legs back straight, knees touching, to propel yourself forward. Then bend your knees and bring your feet back towards your buttocks and repeat the motion. You may find it helpful to hold onto the side of the pool while practicing the movement.
Your arms and legs must work as a team. When your arms are outstretched, your feet should be close to your buttocks. Start with your palms together in a prayer-like position in front of your chest, elbows pressed tight to your ribcage. Reach your arms straight in front of you, letting your head dip underwater. Make a broad circular motion with your arms and lift your head and chest out of the water. Pull your arms back towards your ribcage, bending your elbows back into the prayer-like position to finish the movement.
Tips and Tricks
Though the breaststroke is slow, a few basic techniques can help you speed up and intensify your workout. USA Swimming notes that bringing your heels up towards your buttocks very quickly, which works the hamstrings, will increase your speed. Pressing your upper chest forward out of the water quickly also helps to improve your stroke timing. Learning how to turn properly at the end of each lap will help you to maintain a seamless flow. Turns are done by hitting the wall with your palms, bringing the knees to your chest and pivoting with your hips onto one side so that you can push off the wall with your feet.