The key to Breaststroke swimming

I recently started swimming competitively, like 5 months ago. I’m trying to specialise into breaststroke, but no matter how hard I train, I feel that I’m not getting better or faster. I really want to represent my school and at least be in the top 5 in my race.

The thing is I feel that my captains are not very encouraging and it really dampens my spirit and motivation to swim and train harder. I also have some problems with my strokes but my team doesn’t have a coach and I don’t know who to look to for help.

I feel like giving up, but I really like swimming and I want to achieve something in the sport.

Any advice? Thanks!

Pang Kai Jun

Hey Kai Jun,

It’s cool that we got the same surname! Hahaha and you know what? Pangs never give up. So don’t ever lose motivation to swim, even during your lowest point in your swimming career.

My advice would be to enjoy the process of swimming, that is what I do. Don’t focus too much on winning medals or being the top, because if you think about it, it will always be an endless cycle, and you’ll end up disappointed in the end. Now you’re aiming for top 5, but once you get top 5 you’ll want to be top in your school, and once you’re top in your school you’ll wanna be top in Singapore, it will always be an endless cycle…

However, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t aim high, what you are doing is right, but you have to have the right mindset towards your goals. If you take your goals as motivation to train harder, then keep it up, if not, it’s time to change your mindset! Because right now your goals are stressing you out too much to the point whereby it’s affecting your mood and training, so instead of creating a positive impact, it has created a negative one on you.

If you read my recent blog post, I did mention that I used to be really goal oriented as well, always focusing on the outcome of my goals, and that really pressured me so much that I didn’t enjoy the sport. It was only until recently that I enjoyed the process of swimming, and I started to have better performance since then.

Swimming is going to be a long career, you’ve only started competitive swimming for 5 months, so just enjoy the sport first! You’ll start to see results with more practice, trust me. 🙂

 

The key to Breaststroke swimming – The glide

Breaststroke is slightly different from the 3 other strokes, remember this:

Increase in stroke rate ≠ Increase in speed

In fact, it may have an opposite effect on your speed. The key to having a good Breaststroke is not about increasing stroke rate or power, it’s about having a good glide.

So what exactly is a good glide?

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Now this is the tricky part, if you start your next stroke before the maximum velocity of your glide is reached, you’ll be wasting more energy than you should be and start to fatigue too early in a race.

On the other hand, if you start your next stroke when velocity has dropped too much, it would take much more effort to pull the next stroke as you’ve already lost your initial velocity you got from your previous stroke.

To have a good glide, you first have to have a good feel of your speed after each stroke. You have to know exactly when the speed of your glide is dropping and before it drops, you start your next pull again.

speed time graph

I’ve drawn a graph to clearer illustrate what I just said, so imagine this is 1 Breaststroke pull, whereby the point where your speed is highest is maybe 1-1.5 seconds after your pull, as soon as you start to feel a drop in speed, you start your next stroke immediately. So the key thing to note is to pull your next stroke before your speed drops, which is point X. As soon as you found your point X, remember that feeling and practice it constantly in your training.

speed time graph 2

Once you’ve mastered this, you’ll start to see that your speed is more consistent and less effort would be used in each stroke as you’ll have a much better body position in the pool because you’re making full use of your glide.

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So key things to remember in Breaststroke swimming:
1) Increase in stroke rate does not equate to increase in speed
2) Focus on stroke efficiency
3) Be consistent with your stroke rhythm
4) Glide

Every swimmer has their own stroke that suits them best. So all in all, find out what stroke suits you best and stick to it! After all this is just my advice, so it may or may not work for you.

Always remember, perfect practice makes perfect, so keep training hard! Hope I helped. 🙂

 

Feel free to ask me any questions and I’ll answer them to the best of my ability!

 

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