Breaststroke may be the slowest of the four main swimming disciplines, but that doesn't mean it's less complicated.
Mastering the breaststroke technique takes a lot of practice and skill, along with perfect timing to get the balance right between pulling and kicking.
To get that blend correct, and produce a smooth and streamlined rhythm, takes an incredible amount of strength and stamina in both the upper and lower body.
Professionally, breaststroke techniques are now more advanced and powerful than ever before thanks to the emergence of breaststroke specialists such as Cameron van der Burgh and Adam Peaty.
Back at the start of 2001, no 100m breaststroke swimmer had ever gone under one minute. Seventeen years and 13 world records later, Peaty's best time of 57.13 is more than three seconds quicker.
Our video guide from Speedo will explain how to master the art of the breaststroke. Our guide below answers all the frequently asked questions about swimming breaststroke, and watching the video will help you to visualise how to swim the perfect technique.
What is the best body position for breaststroke swimming?
Getting the perfect head and body position in the water is vital for a streamlined swim. By reducing drag, you're also conserving valuable energy.
Your body needs to be as straight as possible from your head to your hips. To help maintain this position, keep your head facing forwards but tilted downwards slightly.
Pull your stomach in while making a big effort to keep your back as straight as possible. Also, remember that your hips need to be as close as possible to the water's surface.
Don't let them drop. If your hips drop, your legs are likely to drop below you too. You need your legs behind you for maximum propulsion.
How do I improve my breaststroke breathing technique?
Mastering your breathing technique — knowing when and how to take a breath — is a crucial part of your breaststroke performance.
Correct breathing will help you establish a smooth rhythm to your swim, and deliver vital oxygen to your muscles. It's the fuel you need for more power and improved performance.
The breaststroke breathing technique can be broken down into two parts — the pull phase and the recovery phase.
During the pull phase of the stroke, use your shoulder to help bring your face out of the water, and breathe in through your mouth. Resist the temptation of trying to lift your head - by using your shoulder, it will help your head rise naturally and will save strain on the neck.
Take your breath before your shoulders drop, them submerge your head back into the water and exhale slowly through the nose or mouth during the recovery phase of the stroke, as you extend your arms forward.
How can I make my breaststroke kick technique stronger?
Once you've perfected your positioning and breathing, turn your attentions to improving your kick. Unlike the freestyle or front crawl, in breaststroke it is your legs that generate the majority of your propulsion in the water.
To start the breaststroke kick, flex your foot and pull your toes towards your shins. While doing this, it's important to keep your heels as close as possible to your bottom.
Extend your legs outwards and backwards, pushing the water backwards using the soles of your feet. This provides you with acceleration and propulsion.
At the end of the kick, point your toes to begin the recovery phase. Straighten your legs and, as your ankles come together, try to get the soles of your feet facing each other (as much as your ankle flexibility will allow).
Keeping your knees as close together as possible, bend your legs while lifting your heels up towards your bottom. Keeping the body relaxed throughout this process is key to a smooth and energy-efficient rhythm.
What is the perfect arm technique to use?
From the glide position, extend your arms at the front of the stroke. Your hands should be turned slightly outwards, and your elbows should be kept high.
Sweep your arms outwards, with the intention of catching as much water as possible with your hands.
As you accelerate your arms backwards, your hands should continue their hold on the water until it's time to sweep your hands and forearms inwards, in front of your body.
Tuck your elbows in and extend your arms to the front of the stroke, keeping them closely together.
Can you recommend some breaststroke drills for me?
Take a look at this breaststroke drill from Arena, known as the Breaststroke 2 Leg Kick Drill.
Study the swimmer's technique in the video and then give it a try when you're next in the pool. The key to the drill is performing two kicks for every one pull.
How do you get the right timing between arm and leg movements in breaststroke swimming?
The key to perfect timing when swimming breaststroke is to always be generating propulsion, either with the arms or legs.
Your arms should be propulsive while your legs are in the recovery phase, and the legs should generate the power when your hands recover.
What training aids are there to help my breaststroke technique?
When concentrating on your breaststroke kick technique, consider using a kickboard.
The increased buoyancy gives you extra time to focus on your lower body, and will help you to perfect your kick while also building up leg muscle and strength.
Take a look at the Speedo Kickboard. It has a styled grip which allows for different hand positions for a variety of training drills, and is contoured for improved comfort.
Finger paddles can help you in developing your catch position and arm pull during arm technique training.
The Speedo Finger Paddle comes in a matching design to the above kickboard, and allows you to focus on your hand positioning in the water.
Not only will they help with your technique, but you'll also notice a beneficial effect on your upper body strength and power.
You may also want to use a pull buoy to help improve your arm pull. Check out the colourful turquoise and lime Speedo Pullbuoy.
It's ideal for learning new drills and improving technique, because it isolates the muscles in your upper body and forces them to do the propulsion work.