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Old 12-17-2016
CoachBobM CoachBobM is offline
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 647

I had an experience at a swim meet a number of years ago in which I was standing behind the starting blocks waiting for my event and had an unusually close view of the final heat of a breaststroke event (the participants in the final heat are the ones with the fastest seed times). I was awe-struck watching the stroke of the swimmer who came in first. It was clear to me that what he was doing in the water was creating a lot less drag than what the other swimmers were doing.

Of course, watching this didn't make me any faster at breaststroke. If it did, we could stop doing Total Immersion workshops and lessons and just sell high definition videos of Olympic gold medalists swimming their strokes. If you want to get faster, the first step is to identify what the faster swimmers are doing differently, and the second step is to figure out how to train yourself to do those same things.

Some focal points I've found helpful are:
1) Finish each cycle with your nose pointed down. Some swimmers want to look forward all the time, and this prevents them from ever streamlining their bodies.

2) Look down when breathing. This keeps you from raising your head too much when breathing, and also forces you to judge when you're approaching the wall by watching the line on the bottom of the pool instead of by lifting your head.

3) Extend your arms fully at the end of each stroke cycle. This strives for the same goal as the first point, but in a different way.

4) Finish your kick in a streamline. Here, we address the other end of your body: When you're not kicking, you want your legs to be straight and together, with your toes pointed in line with your legs.

5) Heels before toes. This addresses the first part of your kick (what I like to call the "paddle kick" because you are using the insides of your feet as paddles): Trying to kick your heels back faster than your toes helps to make you spread your toes as far apart as possible.

6) Do narrow arm recoveries. One of the inherent reasons why breaststroke is slower than the other strokes is because you are required to recover your arms with at least your elbows in the water. So a key to minimizing drag is making those recoveries as narrow as possible.

7) Don't drop your knees. If you are doing breaststroke kicks on your back, your knees shouldn't break the surface of the water. When a jet airplane lands, there are panels on the wing that are raised to brake the plane. Dropping your knees when you're swimming breaststroke does the same thing (except that you don't want to brake yourself).

8) Focus on moving forward. This calls upon your brain to draw upon all of the neural habits you've been practicing in the preceding focal points and translate them into forward motion.

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