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).