Breaststroke – Early Catch Hands

If you’re an older (Masters) breaststroker, you may or may not know how to REALLY sprint in breaststroke.  Catching the water immediately at the beginning of the pull becomes essential to really swimming fast.  To illustrate this very small fine point, we’ve recruited one of the fastest breaststrokers in history.  At 52 seconds for a 100-yard breaststroke, Dave Denniston is a member of a very elite group, so we’re going to learn from him.

Why Do It:
By eliminating the glide phase, and initiating the catch with your fingers, you’re catching the corner of the pull much sooner than if you leave your hands flat.

How to Do It:
1.  Start with some simple head-down sculling, focusing your attention on your hands.  Feel your initial press out, and what leads the press.  Usually it’s the palms, or full hands.
2.  Work in some head-up sculling, because this requires that you catch sooner than with the head down.  As you do this, lead into the press with your fingers instead of your palms.
3.  Curl your fingertips toward the outside walls as soon as possible.  This helps with your hand speed, and allows a much faster catch.

How to Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
Work in some full-stroke breaststroke, and don’t be afraid to pick up the pace.  As you lead with the fingertips, and curl your hands around, you’ll almost be forced into the catch sooner than usual.  This is a good thing if you’re trying to swim fast.

Special thanks to Dave for showing us this skill.  He’s showing how to get as much out of the pull as possible, which is ultimately important for him these days.   To see more of Dave’s great breaststroke technique, pick up one (or all!) of his Go Swim DVDs:  Go Swim Breaststroke, Go Swim Breaststroke Turns & Pullouts, and Go Swim Breaststroke Drills.