Good breaststroke strikes a balance between a powerful pull and kick and a controlled glide. If you’re new to swimming breaststroke, finding that balance can be easier said than done! 

To help you swim faster and more efficiently, we’re breaking down each phase of breaststroke and sharing our tips to master them!

Stroke Timing

Related: How to Swim Breaststroke with Perfect Technique 

Your timing in breaststroke can make or break your speed — and many swimmers struggle with it! To correct your timing, you can mentally break the stroke into 3 parts. As you swim, think “pull, kick and glide.” As you get faster, each phase of the stroke will blend together more (you don’t see sprint breaststrokers glide for very long!), but the basics will always hold true. 

The Pull

In breaststroke, your arms are symmetrical during the pull. Starting in streamline position, you’ll sweep your hands out slightly, just past your shoulders. Then, bend at the elbow to initiate an Early Vertical Forearm catch. This part is important — a solid EVF will turn your forearms into large paddles, helping you pull more water and reducing stress on your shoulders. Make sure you keep your elbows high. Think “elbow above hand” at all times!

Related: How to Swim Freestyle for Beginners | 5-Step Guide

After initiating your catch, pull straight back until your hands are in line with your nose. You’ll lift your head to take a breath at this point! After taking a breath, join your fingertips back together and power your hands forward into streamline as you drop your head back in the water. 

The Kick

You may know the breaststroke kick as the frog kick — whatever you call it, your mantra for the kick should be “up, out, around, together.”

Related: How to Do a Breaststroke or Butterfly Turn 

Starting in streamline, flex your feet and use your hamstrings to pull your heels up to your butt. Keeping your knees relatively narrow (no wider than your shoulders), press your heels out and start to kick around, snapping your heels back together to finish the cycle. 

The Glide

After your pull and kick, it’s time to glide! Streamline is the fastest position in swimming, and it’s important to maximize your time in that position when swimming breaststroke. 

After finishing one stroke, glide for a 2-count before starting your next stroke. Keep your head neutral and eyes looking straight down. Your arms should be squeezing your ears, and your legs should be squeezing together.

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