Swimmer and Coach

Breaststroke Timing

I’ll start off by apologizing about my lack of updates so far this season. I have been busy getting myself back into training mode after this summer. I am starting off this season with some over-distance freestyle training and dryland 4 days a week that focuses on building and maintenance of the back-end of my race. Given my recent training background, its safe to say I’m a little out of my element with all of the distance work, but I love the fresh challenge of it, and am already starting to see the payoff.

All this isn’t to say that I have been neglecting my technique! Some of you may know that one of my main focuses and greatest successes last year was a revamp of my breaststroke, especially my “tired” breaststroke. This paid dividends with a new Trials cut in my 200 Breast and in the breststroke leg of my IMs. (You can watch my finals swim in the 200IM in my previous post.) This season I am making even more tweaks to this stroke that will allow me to utilize my arms more and save my legs for that push to the finish on the freestyle legs of my IMs.

A few weeks back, I had the honor of attending the USA Swimming convention in Jacksonville, Florida and was able to sit in on a stroke technique talk by Russell Mark. As I was watching the breaststroke portion of this presentation, I was struck by the timing of the strokes of some of the world’s best breaststrokers, mostly how late in the stroke they initiated their kick. How had I not noticed this before!

The example Mr. Mark showed were from Rebecca Soni and Kosuke Kitajima, both world champions. You can see what I mean from Kitajima below:


And with perhaps an even better example, here is some video of Michael Phelps doing it:



Finally seeing this made me realize that I was still swimming what I’ll call “accordion Breaststroke”, where the initiation of the kick coincides with the catch and pull of the arms, resulting a dramatic shortening, then subsequent lengthening of the body as the recovery of the arms and the snap of the kick happen at the same time. Thinking about it now, it’s pretty clear that this is not the most efficient way to travel through the water. The press or snap of the kick should not begin until the rest of the body is in a position to allow it to benefit most from the propulsion: Streamline! From watching hours of breaststroke video (thanks, YouTube!) and playing with different timing in practice, it has become clear that this “separation” of the pull and the kick will give me an extra boost on those breaststroke lengths, without negatively impacting my freestyle.


Next up: Backstroke

2 responses

  1. Cameron Yick

    Thanks for posting this. I started experimenting with this during the summer when I came across this excellent goswim video (Glenn mill’s site) that had a drill to help me practice the concept of lining up before firing the legs.

    It’s nice to see professional athletes sharing the new things that they figure out too!

    I was unable to attend the Jacksonville conference but Mr. Mark was kind enough to forward me copy of the slides he used for the presentation. Given that the slides are just bullet points, I look forward to hearing about the other things he had to say.

    October 7, 2011 at 6:44 pm

  2. Pingback: Breaststroke Timing – Part 4 » Swymnut Masters

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