In swimming, you try to keep your resistance in the water as low as you can, and generate propulsion to send you forwards. Breaststroke is the stroke that creates the most resistance. Your body should be flat in the water, arms straight out in front with hands together, and legs straight back with feet together. Loosely close your fingers, don’t keep them tense, so you can maximise your hold on the water, and tilt your hands out and down at an angle so you can feel the pressure of the water on your palms. Shoot them forwards and sweep them outwards, just past shoulder width – don’t take them too wide. Almost turn the corner with your hands and scoop back in, under the chest. Then shoot forwards into the front glide position.
As you go forwards into the glide, bend the knees and bring the heels up to your backside. Again, don’t go too wide – just within shoulder width. Turn your feet out to get a good connection on the water, then kick backwards. Most of your forward movement will come from your leg kick. The key is the timing. Start the propulsive part of the kick after you shoot your hands forwards into the glide. Keep your body as streamlined as you can at the front to maximise your kick. Your shoulders and head will lift as you sweep outwards and turn the corner, so that’s when you breathe. A common mistake is lifting your head too soon, which sends the body position out of whack.
If you are a confident fitness swimmer, you should place your head in the water during the glide position because you will get a lot more out of the stroke.
Jamie Main, head coach at Derventio eXcel performance swim squad, was talking to Emine Saner