Breaststroke – Double Underwater Pull

Here’s a drill we shot years ago that still stands today.  Enjoy.

Having a good underwater pullout is essential to success in breaststroke. This is especially true in short-course pools, where the pullout can account for 20% to 50% of your race, depending on how skilled you are under water. So it makes sense to work on this aspect of your race. One of the oldest stand-by drills to help with this is the Double Underwater Pull (the DUP).

With the DUP, one thing to remember is that you’re breaking the rules. The rule in breaststroke is that you get one pull down and one kick before you surface and start swimming. In the DUP, you add a second pull and kick before you surface. Use the DUP just for building your skills — not for racing!

The DUP is a simple drill that morphs into a very tough drill when you incorporate it into a longer swim. It not only taxes the lungs and muscles but also shows you the flaws in your underwater pulls. Since you’ll more than likely end up rushing the second pull (if it’s the 3rd, 4th, or 7th in any swim), you’ll soon become acutely aware of where your underwaters fall apart.

How To Do It:
Push off the wall in streamline..

2. Take your pull down, creating power, and snap the legs to the finish of the down kick. Since you’re going to be staying down longer, make sure you keep your head going forward in a straight line. Don’t tuck the head to go deeper, and don’t lift the head to get closer to air. Try to travel straight down the pool.

3. Sneak your hands back up while recovering the legs for the kick, but stay low and straight… don’t head up to start your first stroke, but DO get back into a streamline position.

4. Start it all over again. Set up your legs for the dolphin kick, and pull your arms down, snapping your feet to the finish point at the same time your hands finish the pulldown.

5. Recover your hands, recover the legs, and kick toward the surface.

6. Take your first stroke.

By this point, you’ve traveled quite a distance, and you’re probably out of breath. If you’re not out of breath (at least after the 2nd or 3rd turn of a DUP 100), you’re probably not traveling far enough under water. But even if you’re out of breath, hold onto your technique and don’t rush your strokes. Try to carry the feeling of LENGTH that you get on the DUP into your swimming once your come to the surface. See if you can make it to the other end with 1, 2, or 3 strokes.

How To Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
When you’re first trying this drill, limit yourself to 25s so that you can think about what you’re doing and can hold onto your form. Once you get the hang of it, you can increase the distance of your intervals. Or, you could add just one DUP to a 50 or 100 or 200.

Adding this drill to 50s, 100s, or 200s can really aid in keeping you focused. The more tired you get, the more mistakes you’ll make. The feet and hands will begin to recover incorrectly, you’ll lift your head to rush to the surface, and you’ll chop your first stroke, trying to get to the next… for a quick 2nd breath. You’ll even begin to shorten just how far you go. Don’t allow these things to happen. Aim for control and focus. The air deprivation that you experience with this drill is very similar to what you’ll feel in a race with legal pulldowns. Use the drill to experience and to master what you do when you REALLY need air.

A good rule of thumb for how far to go is simple… start off your practice with the BEST underwater pull you can muster. Mark your spot… and NEVER come up before that when doing doubles. Also, how many strokes are you taking? The swimmer in the clip is doing two strokes per length after the DUP. Staying consistent with this throughout the swim is not only extremely challenging… but can also teach great stroke mechanics AFTER the breakout.

Enjoy, have fun, and remember to take a DEEP BREATH before you leave on the first one… you’ll need it.