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Breaststroke basics: keeping your head down

Breaststroke is a the most common stroke used by new or returning swimmers, but many people like to take a steady pace without submerging themselves fully in the water.

While in the short term there is not much to worry about, swimming head-up breaststroke over a longer term can cause serious damage due to the extra stress and strain on your neck and back. Head up swimming is one of the breaststroke basics.

Out of the water

To put it in perspective, imagine staring at the sky as you walk around the high street shops. After a short period of time, you would end up with a pretty awful neck ache!

This is basically the position your head is in when you breaststroke with your head out of the water.

Efficiency and confidence

But there are more reasons to perfect your breaststroke technique other than just giving your neck and back a break.

  1. Swimming with your head out of water increases drag so it slows you down and makes the whole process a lot harder and more awkward. You might find you’re enjoy swimming breaststroke a lot more and that it becomes a lot smoother for you once you have learned a more efficient technique.
  2. A big advantage is submerging your head will give you a much greater confidence in the water. It might not seem it at first but a good breaststroke technique will ensure you have a regular breathing pattern and is good practice should you ever be swimming in deeper or choppier waters like you might find at sea.

Contact lenses

Another common excuse for head-up breaststroke is for swimmers who wear contact lenses and want to see the end of the pool before they hit it head first!

But it’s an easy fix! Prescription swimming goggles are increasingly available and will make a huge difference, allowing you to see clearly underwater and freeing you up to learn a good breaststroke technique – your back and neck will be appreciate it!

Ask your optician for advice on prescription goggles.