Learn Breaststroke

Last Updated on August 1st, 2023

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Learning the breaststroke is often one of the first strokes that many swimmers are taught. Unfortunately, this makes many people assume it is the easiest stroke. However, in reality, this is far from the truth. 

While some people find the breaststroke incredibly easy, others find it difficult to learn and one of the hardest. It depends a lot on their techniques and the skills they pick up the best. 

However, you can teach yourself the breaststroke with enough dedication and practice. 

Keep reading to learn more about breaststroke, including how to teach yourself and why you might be struggling. 


What’s the Best Way to Learn Breaststroke?

Usually, the best way to learn breaststroke is through swimming lessons taught in small classes or one-on-one with a swimming instructor. 

A good swim instructor will be able to demonstrate the proper technique, watch you execute the technique, and provide constructive feedback on how to improve and ensure you don’t drown.

Outside of swimming lessons, you should take the opportunity to practice what you have learned by yourself for a couple of hours every week. 

Thankfully, because the breaststroke is the slowest swimming stroke, you can take your time methodically performing the individual motions.

If you aren’t confident enough to practice all of the combined motions that make up the breaststroke, swimming drills will be your best friend as you practice in your own time. 

Some drills require the use of flotation devices and other swim equipment so that you can focus on separating and mastering individual motions.


How Long Does it Take to Learn Breaststroke?

It’s hard to say exactly how long it will take to learn the breaststroke because you can perform each of the actions correctly but ultimately still be bad at the stroke for years. 

It also depends on how much regular practice you get in so that your body gets used to positioning and movements in the water.

As far as being able to perform the arm and leg motions and understanding the rest of the theory behind the breaststroke, just a few hours each week for a couple of months should be enough to establish these teachings.

Mastering the breathing and rhythm can be done within a year or so if consciously done correctly from the very beginning. 

However, if you’ve already been practicing the breaststroke for a while, you may have to take extra time and effort to undo some of the bad habits you accidentally picked up on the way.


Can You Teach Yourself to Swim Breaststroke?

Even as a beginner swimmer, teaching yourself how to swim the breaststroke or at least the basics is possible. There are two main reasons why the breaststroke is a great way to gain confidence in the water before attempting to learn the more complicated swimming strokes:


Your head and face never have to be submerged

One of the biggest struggles that novice swimmers have to overcome is placing their face or entire head into the water as they swim. 

This is important because it is the basis of a streamlined profile and will prevent long-term strain injuries to the neck associated with poor swimming form.

If you can overcome the fear and stress of having your face in the water, you will find that you will become a more confident swimmer in a shorter period of time.


Transitioning from swimming to treading water or standing is easier

If you do need to abruptly stop swimming to tread water or are getting out of the pool, the angle at which the breaststroke is performed can easily transition to these actions. 

The breaststroke is also the slowest of all the swimming strokes, which lends itself to stopping and switching to other motions.


Why is Breaststroke so Hard?

Even though breaststroke is commonly regarded as the easiest swimming stroke to learn, it can still be a physically demanding stroke and involve a lifelong journey to mastery. There are a couple of reasons why learning the breaststroke can end up being an arduous task:


Body positioning

An almost vertical body position is common for beginners, which allows them to hold their heads out of the water for easy breathing, but it also means you experience the greatest amount of drag possible. 

Increased drag requires an even greater amount of power to propel yourself forwards, which can make you feel exhausted earlier on in swimming lessons or practice.

Even if you have a nearly horizontal position, you may end up being too deep in the water to make good progress with each cycle of the breaststroke. This would require advanced one arm and one kick cycle being performed simultaneously at the right time.


Arm movements

The nature of the kick used in the breaststroke propels you forward and slightly down into the water. The movement of the arms is supposed to counteract the downward direction and add a bit more propulsion before gliding.

The problem is that your legs are almost guaranteed to be stronger than your arms, so you cannot fully negate the downward direction of the kick. 

On top of this, the arms have to perform the pull swiftly but powerfully to maintain a streamlined position for as long as possible.


Coordination and rhythm

Each cycle of the breaststroke involves three key components (a quick arm circle, breath, and the beginning of the kick) that must be performed almost simultaneously. 

Being realistic and honest with yourself about how well your movements are coordinated together can help you become a better swimmer when you finally admit and identify a problem with your swimming.

Once you have found the correct timing for all the motions to be completed in near synchrony, you must be able to perform the combined moves consistently at regular intervals. 

This is because, contrary to popular thought, the more cycles of stroke you do does not necessarily equal a faster lap time.


Final Thoughts on How to Learn Breaststroke

Breaststroke can be easy to learn but is deceptively hard to master. There are many resources available to learn how to swim the breaststroke, but it ultimately comes down to how much your practice and how dedicated you are to becoming a better swimmer.