Breaststroke - Upside Down

Nov 10, 2006
Breaststroke - Upside Down

Many swimmers have a funny way of forcing their arms through the water during the breaststroke arm recovery. This happens especially when they get tired, and start to fall lower in the water. Here's a quick way to learn exactly what that extra resistance feels like -- while at the same time you're learning how to AVOID that extra resistance.

An important part of this drill is that it should be done UNDER WATER. It's key that your entire body is below the surface during this drill. It's only when you're completely under water that you fully experience the resistance the water places on your arms and legs while they recover. Plus... you'll also be working your lungs.


Why Do It:
While you're never going to race breaststroke on your back, when you race on your stomach, you want your arms to move AS IF you were on your back. That is, you want your arms to find the slipperiest way to reach forward and aim directly forward. When you swim breaststroke on your back, your arms will instinctively move in a much straighter line forward. This is because anything aimed too high or too low will cause you much discomfort and... more work.

How To Do It:
Push off on your back, just as you would for backstroke.

2. Skip the underwater pullout, and simply start to take strokes of breaststroke as you normally would.

3. Keep glancing at the lane line to make sure you're going straight.

4. Watch your hands as they sweep in and move past your face. The hands will probably be very close to your face as you move them forward. By watching the hands, you'll stay narrow in the front of the stroke, and begin to learn a sleeker recovery.

5. Go as far as you can before you have to come up. Set a goal to make an entire 25 (be careful not to hit your head at the end). The combination of your desire for air, and your desire for a better stroke will be very beneficial to your improvement.

How To Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
As you can see in the video, our swimmer is constantly blowing air out of his nose. This is very natural when you're on your back. While some swimmers can purse their lips up to their nose and completely CLOSE the nasal opening, many swimmers HAVE to have air coming out constantly, or water will go up.

If you're like me, this is very tough to control, so you have a few options:

1. Get a pair of nose plugs. If you're SO uncomfortable breathing out the entire time, or run out of air too quickly, you may not be focused on the right thing, and won't be able to learn from this drill. Nose plugs will allow you to focus on your stroke, and not on water going up your nose.

2. Learn to curl your upper lip against your nose, to block the passageway. Even if you can't completely cover the nostrils, you CAN restrict the outward flow of air just a bit, and can better manage your oxygen over a longer distance.

3. Continue to improve your fitness level, and learn to release your oxygen more slowly.

4. Finally... just go SO FAST that you finish before you run out of air.

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