What is Breaststroke Swimming?

Last Updated on August 1st, 2023

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Breaststroke swimming is well known. It is one of the first swimming strokes anyone is taught when they are learning to swim. 

While it might not be the easiest to perfect, the basic movement and the fact that you can go as slowly or as fast as you want to make a difference. 

Breaststroke swimming is defined as mimicking a frog with your legs while your arms move together in sync to propel you forward. Keep reading to learn more about the history of breaststroke and the important techniques to keep in mind while swimming. 


What is the Breaststroke Technique in Swimming?

There are six main elements in the breaststroke technique. 


  1. Body position. When swimming the breaststroke, keeping the body in an efficient, streamlined position is important. This involves keeping your head straight down and your hips high.                                                                                                                                                                     
  2. Pull. From the above-streamlined position, you will initiate your pull. To do so, press your hands outward so they are just wider than shoulder-width.                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
  3. Kick. Using the frog kick is unique to the breaststroke and requires flexing your feet rather than pointing. However, make sure your knees never extend beyond shoulder width, or you lose efficiency.                                                                                                                                    
  4. Timing. This is the most important part of the breaststroke. The stroke is the slowest of all strokes and requires a glide to be at its most efficient.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
  5. Pullout. The pullout is when you hit the wall. This is an area frequently overlooked but very important to stroke. Keeping streamlined while performing the pullout can give you a large boost of momentum.                                                                                                                                                 
  6. Training. As with any stroke, you need to practice a lot. Training, repetition, and drills are all important to maintaining a good breaststroke technique.                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Unlike other swimming styles, the torso does not rotate since the arms are moving in sync. The breaststroke is swum the whole time with the body facing down, even when coming up for breath. 

The arms rotate in a semicircular movement, and the legs keep pace with frog kicks. Though there is a lot to learn at once, it is important to keep these main six techniques in mind. 

And remember, when you are first learning, especially if for recreational purposes instead of training, it doesn’t matter if it isn’t perfect right away. Drills and practice will help you to master the movements. 


What is the Meaning of Breaststroke?

Breaststroke is defined as a stroke produced in the prone position, which consists of both hands moving forward at the same time, outward and rearward from in front of the chest. At the same time, the legs move in a frog kick.

There are many other definitions of the breaststroke out there on the internet. However, we found that this one did the best of explaining all movements of the stroke in an easy-to-understand manner. 

It is a popular swim stroke that is fairly easy to teach but needs a lot of flexibility and understanding of nuances to get right. 

It is an ancient swimming technique found back in the Stone Age in Southwestern Egypt, when people tried to swim by mimicking the movement of frogs, at least in the legs. 


Why is the Technique Named Breaststroke?

Because of how long it has been around, there is a lot of mystery surrounding the breaststroke. Though we can guess that it started around Egypt, how this movement continued from then until modern times is a mystery. 

The name itself is a mystery, or at least not widely shared. However, it is thought that it could be based on the muscles used and how the breast area can be sore after long bouts of swimming. 

Another possibility is that back early on in swimming, you either swam on your back or your front, so the name was a way to discern which way you were facing. 

Yet another possibility is that the breast line is where your body should be out of the water during the breathing phase. 

A final possibility is that when you are swimming, your arms should be very close to your chest when pulling the water. 

All of these are fairly practical reasons and make a lot of sense. Some even serve as reminders of where your arms should be or how far up you need to get out of the water.


Why is Breaststroke Important in Swimming?

The breaststroke uses a lot of your body’s muscles, especially in your shoulder, back, and hips. In swimming, this is important because it allows you to stretch and build these muscles as well as grow leaner by eliminating fat while keeping muscles. 

The breaststroke is said to build strength, power, and endurance. It also works the core since the body is bending through the hips. 

Also, it is one of the easiest swimming strokes to learn, even if the nuances are a little difficult. For those just learning to swim, it is a great way to teach children and adults to at least understand the basic process of swimming. 

It is also a popular recreational style because even though it works a lot of muscles, you don’t have to go very fast-paced to keep the timing right, either. 

Also, the stroke can be performed while keeping the head up constantly, so you don’t have to worry about learning to breathe, either. 


Final Thoughts on What is Breaststroke Swimming

The breaststroke is an ancient swimming technique. While it has been modified in modern times to better fit the requirements for competitions and the Olympics, the basic method hadn’t changed much from when we were trying to mimic frogs in Egypt. 

There are six basic techniques to always keep in mind while swimming the breaststroke, and while no one quite knows the name, there are a lot of fun theories that can help you keep some key techniques in mind.