Continuing on with our discussions of strokes other than freestyle, we now look at Breaststroke. Breaststroke is the oldest known swimming stroke as evidenced by cave drawings from the Stone Age depicting people doing a variation of the stroke. It’s also the most popular stroke in swimming throughout the world probably for two reasons: (1) the breath is built into the stroke, unlike freestyle and butterfly, and (2) when you get the timing of the arms, legs, and breathing, you can do the stroke at a relaxed pace seemingly forever.
Unfortunately, it’s also the slowest of the competitive strokes because the human body experiences more resistance (drag) in this stroke than in the others. But this fact is also what makes the stroke so much fun to practice and learn. I like to think of Breaststroke as the “thinking person’s stroke.” You never run out of ways to adjust the stroke to make it faster, whether it’s working on the arm-leg timing, the size of the arm pull or kick, or the height at which you breathe. Breaststroke will also teach you how to streamline your body better than any stroke simply because you need to achieve that needle shape between strokes just to keep from slowing down. All the time that you are trying to figure out a better way to move through the water, Breaststroke is building up good upper body and leg strength. And it’s all about developing that swimmer’s body at the end of the day.
For the triathletes out there, Breaststroke is a great stroke to have in the back pocket during an open water swim. If the water is particularly choppy or if you find it difficult to sight your direction, Breaststroke has a forward sight built into the stroke. It can be a good recovery stroke if you get tired during your swim and need more oxygen or a break from doing freestyle.