Mastering Breaststroke's Arm Movements

We’ve already discussed improving your kick for Breaststroke but that is only half the stroke. There is another, equally important, aspect to the stroke that you need to master if you want to swim your best, and that is the arm movements. When timed well, these arm movements enhance your kick and work in tandem to keep you moving through the water at a good clip.

We’re here to help! We’ve broken down the arm movements for Breaststroke into a few key motions. Whether you already swim this stroke like a pro, or are just starting out, this guide will help!

The Arm Movements

It can be tempted to sweep your arms out like you are doing a jumping jack in the water, but this actually is not the movement you want for breaststroke. Instead, you want to follow a three step system, Catch, Pull, and Recovery. If you are more of a visual learner, you can imagine these movements akin to scooping from a large bowl of ice cream.

The Catch

The Catch is the first part of the stroke. With your arms out in front of you, cup your hands into an almost scoop-like shape, pressing down and out at the same time. This is where you would do the scooping of the ice cream from the large bowl.

The Pull

The Pull follows the Catch, and can be thought of the part where you pull the ice cream you scooped to your mouth to eat. With your elbows above your hands, pull your hands, hard, toward your chest. This should be a relatively quick movement, pushing back and downward by your palm and forearm. Do not go too far though, as the further you go, the longer you will have to recover.

The Recovery

The final part of the arm movements is the Recovery, which to complete the metaphor, is when you prepare for your next scoop of ice cream. Join both of your palms together in front of your chest and push them forward until your arms are straight out in front of you once again, ready to perform another Catch.

Don’t Forget to Breathe!

Last, but not least, you have to keep your breathing in mind as you perform the arm motions. Ideally, you take a breath on every stroke, to help with your rhythm. During the Pull, when your hands near your mouth, push your head above water and take a breath of the air. But do not take your hands out of the water, or you will be swimming only through air.

When your head is back underwater, exhale through your nose in mouth. This will ensure that your lungs are empty and ready for the next breath on the next stroke.

Tie It All Together

Now that you know about the arm motions and the kicking motions of breaststroke, it’s time to tie everything you know together. When you do, you’ll be swimming like a pro. Don’t worry if you can’t get the timing right on your first few tries--it can take time. Keep at it, keep practicing, and you’ll be a master in no time!

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