The Breaststroke is an entirely different movement than its counterparts. It relies on a strong, sweeping pull, as well as a powerful frog-like kick.
It can be difficult to piece this together, so here’s a guide to help you learn how to swim breaststroke efficiently and graciously.
Breaststroke is peculiar when compared to the other 3 swim strokes. The movement is more up and down, with a lurch forward over the water.
The 3 components you need to learn:
The pull is the first part in the breaststroke sequence. After coming out of a streamline position, start pulling with both your hands in front of you. Pull down and in towards your chest, then shoot your arms out back in front of you above the water. The breaststroke pull is similar to a scooping motion. Think about scooping out as much water as you can while pulling yourself forward.
A slight bend in your elbow will make it much easier to catch water and will move you forward much more efficiently.
The breaststroke kick is often called a frog kick. It’s much different from a flutter kick or a dolphin kick and requires you to sweep the water with both of your legs apart. Use your hamstrings to pull your legs up to your butt, then release, pushing the water with your feet. When you release your legs and perform the sweeping motion, make sure to keep pushing water with your feet until your feet snap back together. The kick comes in after you’ve completed your pull. Always remember, pull then kick.
Pull, kick, and glide. Think of this while you swim. After you’ve done the kick, and you’re back in a streamline position, glide for around 1-2 seconds. Don’t immediately start the cycle again, you want to maximize the momentum you just generated and let it carry you as far as possible before you need to exert effort into pulling again. Some of the world's best breaststrokers are able to glide for multiple yards after each stroke. This helps conserve energy and maximizes efficiency in the water. Don’t feel rushed, take your time and be relaxed in the water.
Pull, kick, glide. Repeat this to yourself while you learn breaststroke. Practice consistently and work to develop good timing within your stroke. Sooner or later, with enough practice, you’ll be swimming breaststroke up and down the pool for hundreds of yards.