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Breaststroke – Head-Down Pull

A common trait of really fast breaststrokers is that they initiate the pull prior to lifting their head. In contrast, a common trait of Masters swimmers is that they bring the head up too soon in breaststroke… and leave it there too long. Part of this is the AIR issue, but with a little attention to the timing of WHEN to go to air, we can all look a little more like the elites. This drill will help you work on timing WHEN to start lifting the head to air in breaststroke.


Why Do It:

Keeping the head in line for the start of the pull not only keeps you in a more streamline position longer, but also makes it easier to engage the lats and to take advantage of the natural rise of the body to the pull.

How to Do It:

1. We’re going to practice this drill with a lot of tools. We use these particular tools — paddles, pull buoy, and a Finis center-mount Swimmer’s Snorkel — to make sure we focus ALL our attention and energy on the first part of the pull.

2. Start by pulling breaststroke like you normally would, only don’t go to air. With the Finis Swimmer’s Snorkel, you won’t need to lift up for air, so you can focus ALL your attention on the first part of the pull… and nothing else.

3. Pay attention to what your head WANTS to do when you start to separate your hands. Your INSTINCT will most likely be to lift the head as the hands begin to separate. Fight this instinct. You want to keep your head steady and stable as the hands separate.

4. When you feel you’ve got your instinct under control… and can keep your head down at the start of the pull, you’re ready for the next step. With the snorkel on, pull another length but this time come up for a faux breath — a fake breath. Allow the head to draw up only AFTER the hands have started the pull.
5. Take it swimming. Take off all the toys and swim breaststroke. Start slowly, and gradually pick up the pace as you feel comfortable.

DESCRIBE THE IMAGE How to Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):

Add power to the pull, and start to make things happen faster and faster. Make sure you keep your hands and elbows high, and feel the pull connecting across your entire back, or through your lats.

When you take off the equipment and start to swim breaststroke, make sure you exhale on the way UP to ensure you’re getting good air exchange.

Remember: Start your pull FIRST… then go to air. Don’t turn your head into a brick or parachute. Hide it until your pull is moving you through the water.