Is breaststroke underrated and held by regulations
Short introduction,I started swimming like 5 months ago. I'm focused so far more on technical side of things than really doing endurance/physical training. I wanted to get into triathlon but at the moment I can run (weird issue with one of my ankle). It was a distant goal, something I would want to do but foremost an objectve for me to get back in shape (As I'm out of shape and my body eaten alive by stress and in a pretty constant mildly inflammatory condition), 40 wake up call: take care of your body, change of life style, etc I suspect I'm not alone).
I found out that I love swimming which helps I see plenty people swimming at my pool and I'm not sure to which extend they really love swimming and water vs efforts/performances.
I got to it because my body is angry me in many ways and swimming sounded like a smooth enough activity. So far I can tell it was a good choice to invest time into foremost because I like it a lot, the water in itself the felling of water and gliding or cutting through it.
I discover quickly that whereas swimming is relatively smooth activity you can easy hurt yourself none the less. At first I focused on freestyle, I based my practice on advice and videos around on youtube and the web. Soon enough I start to feel that something was wrong as pain start to grow in my left shoulder and I could tell the strain freestyle was putting was not as symmetrical as it should have. I discover the TI was watching a couple of the few videos available on youtube. It fixed the issue for me (lack of upper body rotation).
I'm suffering from a cervical hernia (C6-C7) (and a lesser one in between T1 and T2...) and I also discovered that strokes with upper body rotations may not be the best one at the moment for me, I favor working mostly on my core body through lots of ondulatinf movement (I work on dolphin kick and snacky type of move a lot). As a side note doctors are optimistic I'm young (40) and my spine is flexible and overall in good shape. I've to patient and stick to my swimming practices.
So I went to spend more time on breaststroke and butterfly. Till not that long ago actually butterfly was my goal because I though that it was the only viable (sort of~) alternative to freestyle be it for sprint of endurance swimming.
My dolphin kick is quite decent but I still lack the upper body strength to do more than max 50m with butterfly. More importantly I try to swim (whatever stroke) as effortlessly as possible and while learning butterfly I discovered a massive limitation that plagues neither breaststroke or freestyle swimming: you can't really go low intensity while swimming butterfly. You arms have to get speed before the airborne recovery. I also find it extremely rythme sensitive, both for the arms recovery and breathing. As for the aesthetic of it I'm not sure it is quite splashy, I like smooth swimming there is something rude when the are get into the water after the recovery (worse than in max speed freestyle with straight arm recovery).
To my point, my swimming practice revolves more and more about breaststroke (till I can blend back freestyle in). Like with freestyle there are multiple ways to swim it depending on your pace.
I wonder the difference between breaststroke and freestyle is oversold. From my experience freestyle is sure faster but I also think that "free" breaststroke is far more efficient than what the sport records are demonstrating.
First breaststroke is over regulated (in many ways) which affects the records around negatively. I don't expect breaststroke to beat freestyle but I an definitely see it compete with butterfly, more than that if there was longer distance races.
A benefit I see to breaststroke I see over freestyle is that the effort it require from the upper and lower parts of the body match more properly what an average human can deliver than freestyle (extremely upper body focus). Sprint in breaststroke focuses more and the legs (an almost exact opposite of freestyle) but as one slow the pace i find myself using a wider arm pull which provide more traction.
Actually as I am not held by regulation (swimming for fitness and personal pleasure) there is another thing that can be added to breaststroke: a more or less pronounce dolphin kick one you are the streamlined position (and after the whip kick). I like to time it with my catch, like in butterfly, it clearly helps making the arm pull to provide more traction. It also prepare for a more "round" exit of the head and breathing (with the combine kicks and arm movement breathing every stroke seems pretty right to me).
It can be made in a pretty "relaxed" very TI manner and I think it helps the stroke.
I wonder how to make measurement alone and see if there are real benefit or it is just perceptions (I like breaststroke and butterfly over freestyle because it is not more enjoyable to me, it is not as smooth: there is acceleration, and you also somehow see where you are going and something else than the bottom of the pool. I know it is not much for performances sensitive people yet each is own).
I fell like the head is also very important as in butterfly and it gives momentum for the whole body ondulation. I again need to time some laps (50m at my pool I'm lucky).
What do you think? Have some of you toyed with the idea (so an active glide of some sort). By eyes It seems to allow to sustain decent speed versus what seems to be freestylers with more experience and fitter than I am (they still faster to make it clear).
The principal reason that breaststroke is slower than the other strokes is that so much is done the wrong way underwater. Breaststroke is the only stroke in which you recover your arms underwater. and is the only stroke that even has a kick recovery (which is also done underwater). You can, of course, recover your arms over the water if you're not bound by the rules of competition breaststroke. It used to be that the rules for compeititon breaststroke were looser than they are now, and that's what breaststrokers began doing. It got to the point where it appeared that the old way of doing breaststroke was going to disappear, and that's when they tightened the rules for breaststroke and began calling the breaststroke with the over-the-water recovery and dolphin kick butterfly.
I learned through my own researches that butterfly evolved from breaststroke, but I am unaware of the other types of breaststroke you are speaking about. I will make personal researches but which era should I look at?
Isn't swimming interesting? It gets really complicated to tell what work best from regulation, the continual improvement of the athletes level of fitness on's body type, one's level of fitness, etc.
I wonder if the regulator should open things up a little. As it stands we have or four canons for swimming, things are evolving but I would say it is fine tuning. Meanwhile we have high speed camera, great understanding of hydrodynamics, of training and human fitness too, etc. I feel with a reasonable level of confidence that the canons were set too early in Man History.
I wonder if they could go down to 2 categories: alternate movement (current freestyle), simultaneous movement.
Actually I'm iffy about back as it serves really few purpose in real lie condition. I use it sometime to rest a little but as far a swimming is concern... You can't see where you go, you can see the tiniest wave coming and there is few you can do sync your breathing with adverse condition. I think is fast but also useless.
By lessening the number of categories to 2, it means that breastrokers/butterflyers would have room to compete on more distances and a more monolithic way of swimming could emerge.
Freestyle is front crawling, the technique varies from sprint to long distance (and people at TI knows better than me) yet it is the same. For "symmetric" types of swimming it is not true, the fact that I wrote typeS says it all.
As I see things there are no way to improve freestyle. It is not true for breaststroke, you have to keep the head above water, you can really use dolphin kick within the stroke, etc.
I mean it would be interesting to have breaststrokers and butterflyers to compete on fair basic it wold show that the difference of speed ain't as much as most think it is.
It should be obvious too that "breaststroke" as it is now makes no sense at all!
Butterfly could be the highest speed "mode or form" of the "symmetrical" freestyle swimming. I can envision people finishing the 1500m "symmetrical freestyle" in butterfly and why not finishing the last tenth meters or yards underwater completely if they have the juice but I can't envision people going with butterfly all along winning.
Butterfly is the only symmetrical type swimming we know (and quite possibly can be) with no under water recovery (dolphin kick has no recovery) and the arm recovery happens airborne.
I choose to post in the Breaststroke forum because butterfly is an evolution of breaststroke but I've something greater in mind. In essence I chose a shitty title for my post... lol
One side you have a stroke that is complete: alternating arms and legs you can't add other patterns into it to make it better. On the other side you have all the symmetrical movements: symmetrical arms movement with pro and con, various symmetrical kicks with pro and con, i would add some extra magic from the core body (that happens in freestyle too but thanks to the artificial conditions set by the swimming pool).
I suspect the use of that set of tools is far from maximized thanks to artificial constrains that to do not pit them together. That rises the question why swim anything else than freestyle?
My personal answer, for what it is worse is that for all its greatness freestyle is only the most efficient type of surface swimming: it teaches you nothing about underwater swimming for example. It also calls for balance in upper body, core body and lower body strength is not match for the human abilities. Now it have its specialist, it saves triathletes legs but I still think it is what it is the pinnacle in surface swimming and there is a lot more to swimming.
I've toyed myself with quite a few ideas but I lack the data in hard minutes and seconds. Feeling alone can be misleading as you tend to notice accelerations more than speed per self.
Found another way to say it
We use "freestyle" the wrong way. Front crawling being the canon for surface swimming needs really few regulation that does not make it freestyle quite the contrary in fact.
We need a real "freestyle" category which actually exclude front crawling to keep our learning of swimming increasing and that sport moving.
Wow I'm wow myself. The issue about swimming is in fact contain within our loss of attention to semantics.
Sorry for the multi-posting but I can't edit my post yet
I've just got hit by the idea and it is springing into my head so I've to share my thoughts.
Words are so powerful they define how and what we think. "Freestyle" in swimming comes from an experimental era. it is freestyle no more, it is canon, the standard, the pinnacle, etc. whatever you want to call it.
Freestyle should be compared to the gold standard in surface swimming: front crawling. It is really weird we are living in a completely nonsensical era and I just discovered it applies to swimming to. What does means "free" as far as swimming is concern? Every body does the same thing and actually every body has to do the same thing to keep up: there is nothing free in modern freestyle swimming.
What freestyle should be? If free one can decide to do 50m with underwater dolphin only if he can. For 100m mostly same. I mean who cares if it is mostly underwater swimming, it is FREEstyle. Above a given distance, sprint and long spring, mostly underwater swimming won't cut it anymore. Freestyler will go with another BLEND of techniques.
My distinction I made between alternate and symmetrical in my previous post was not pertinent, the core of the matter is deeper. It is indeed the standard (crawl) vs free forms attempts. as I see thing conceptually "butterfly" is wronger than breaststroke. Breaststroke can be swum underwater or above at any pace, in many different ways. Butterfly sure alleviates the underwater recovery but ultimately it is an attempt at taking over front crawling that can't succeed. Front crawling is the gold standard of surface swimming.
So the real topic should be this, why "front crawling" the gold standard prevents others form of swimming to compete or simply in fact evolve and find their own path.
Ones will notice that the issue is broader than swimming, societal in fact as that applies to many topics...
The worse part is that the technique, front crawling, will remain no matter which style old the record at any given distance (I suspect only front crawling can lose only the really short distances), the most efficient way to swim at the surface of the water.
It is a sad trait of the modern western societies on many topic...
But "freestyle" in competition ist freestyle. You can chose any style you want, but crawling is the fastest so everyone crawls.
The problem with swimming under water is, that you have to make a definition where swimming ends end where freediving begins. You can change the definition and say: OK, in freestyle you are all allowed to do the whole line under water.
Then every swimmer would train to swim under water because it's faster. They are not more free in choosing their stroke then, they only adapt their technique to the new rules. People who swim races normally do that to compete with others, not to see if they they are slower or faster coming to the finish as the slowest of all others. To do that I need no competitions.
Think of skying, had people start with surfboard and mono-sky and all of sudden sky as we know them appeared. Surfboard and mono-sky can't compete with standard skying.
In skying you have real freestyle, mono-sky surfboard, they did their thing obviously leaving the sky do what it does best (and that is close to everything).
If there is a way superior way of doing thing , it replaces previous techniques. That happened in freestyle swimming an undisputed and indisputable king emerged.
So what is left. Butterfly and breaststroke are interesting on their own. I like breaststroke a lot because that is what I learned first or simply something that tick with me better (the sensation is provide is superior to me than front crawling and its pretty constant pace and positioning).
So far are we, We have only one king, and three others sort of "stuck in the syndrome", they can't really evolve and and limited to a couple distances which prevent to evaluate the performances and efficiency of different approach in different circumstances and to come with new approaches.
So there is the king, of divine right, and the alternative. Freestyle is not the best choice of word in that context. We should have surface swimming competitions (nowadays freestyle and the amount of underwater swimming allowed should be further reduced).
On the other hand "freestyle" or alternative swimming, whatever you call it everything is allowed but front crawling. People are likely to do 50m underwater, most of 100m too, I guess a lot of 200m but then?
I tried to extend my time spend under water at the swimming pool quite a few times, you simply can't do it, you get out of breath really fast.
Having only two categories would allow alternative swimming to develop depending on the challenge (distance). People like the word freestyle so it could that name if well understood that it won't result in a one size fit its all approach: we already have it: front crawling.
I think skying is a good parallel, skying is the best approach when you want to go down a mountain. Yet others approach appeared and with them pretty unnatural challenges (there are few, if none, pipes in mountain.
Swimming pools are setting unnatural limitation and constrains, I believe freestyle (as I define it) could bring some excitement to the swimming industry. As for the show, filming underwater, etc. is no longer an issue.
Ultimately if breaststrokers and butterflyers were presented with the challenge of running on the same distances as nowadays freestylers, I believe that a new stroke coud emerge as I believe both vanilla breaststroke and butterfly are too demanding to be maintained past say 400m, something hybrid (using the same tools) is likely to emerge. Such stroke will never be faster than front crawling but at least it will be the best alternative to it.
As an aside butterfly is likely to continue to exist as the second option for speed.
Swimming will never get as graphic as some others sports (mountains activities at large, xtreme diving, etc.) yet I think more can be done to both make money out of it and improve our human ways of doing things.
As un example there could be more open water competitions with why not more than 8 lanes. If would offer good opportunity to see the pro/con of the various approach. It would also remove some artificial benefit granted by swimming pool.
People like outdoor activities and as far as business is concerned it is easy and CHEAP to gather crowd outside. You have can have competition is lovely places and set-up which help reaching costumers/audience/ whatever that is called.
I think swimming is a little antiquated now, it needs its X-games type of moment. The idea sprouted in my head as was posting (and as I can really do front crawl now) but I think "standard" vs "crazy" is a sound idea.
I'm going back closer to the topic as I found videos that illustrate pretty well what I think could a casual long distance stroke. It comes down to adding a whip kick to the drill Rebecca Soni demonstrate in the videos while contrary to the advice ignoring the "hyper streamline" position.
So a twisted cobra breaststroke (I did not know that breaststroke/butterfly hybrid).
The aforementioned video
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