Keeping abreast of things
As assistant coach at the British Gas Intensive Training Centre (ITC) at Bath, Graeme Antwhistle oversaw two of his squad – Michael Jamieson and Andrew Willis – reach the 200m Breaststroke final at the 2011 World Championships in Shanghai.
With another of his swimmers, Kris Gilchrist, ranked seventh fastest in the world last season in the same event, it’s fair to say Graeme knows what he’s talking about when it comes to breaststroke technique.
And while we know you’re not looking to make the Olympic squad, improving your breaststroke technique can have a huge impact on your endurance and the number of muscles you’re working, adding up to a more efficient, calorie-busting swim.
Streamline The Stroke
- Streamlining your stroke is the best way to improve your breaststroke efficiency. While you might feel like you're smoothly travelling through the water compared to front crawl or butterfly, in reality you can probably be doing more to stay streamlined.
- Aim to minimise your drag as much as possible - hold your glide position for as long as you can to maintain your forward momentum.
- Doing this will reduce your stroke count.
- Timing is vital to an efficient breaststroke. Think about the progression of your hands and your kick.
- During the stroke, try to time your hands travelling forwards to the streamline position before you start to kick and push the water backwards.
- The best technique is to pull the water slowly at first, accelerating in to your chest then throw your hands back to the streamline position as fast as possible, once you have pulled on the water.
- To get the maximum output from the kick, slowly raise your heels towards your bum then accelerate your leg kick back to a streamline position with your heels back together and your toes pointed to minimise resistance.
- The most efficient breaststroke is NOT the traditional frog movement with a wide kick and wide pull - try and swim narrow!
- Only pull as wide as you have the strength to do. Imaging fixing your hands on the water, pulling your chest towards your hands rather than the other way round.
- Only kick as wide as your shoulder width, directing the water behind you for better propulsion rather than out to the sides.