How to Swim the Breaststroke

The breaststroke can be a tricky stroke to master, but once the steps are coordinated correctly it can be a very leisurely way to swim.


  1. Image titled Swim the Breaststroke Step 1
    Place yourself laterally in the water with your arms extended straight in front of you and your legs behind you. Then do an underwater pullout and go as far as you can.
    • Pullout- When your arms are out in front of you pull your arms straight down past your thighs while doing a butterfly kick. Glide until you slow down. Then sneak your hands back up in front of your body while doing a breaststroke kick. Then start your stroke.
    • Don't forget to do a pullout. Pullouts give you a head start and make your stroke faster.
    • Do pullouts off of starts and turns.
  2. 2
    Push your arms apart so that they create a diagonal with your body. Make sure your palms are facing out and your elbows are straight.
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  3. 3
    Pull your elbows into the sides of your body, then bring your hands together in front of your chest. Now simply push your hands forward so they return to where they started. Do not make your arms go wide open, but do not make a tiny circle either. Also, when both of your hands get to your chest, breathe, and shoot them out quickly side by side, palms up.
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  4. 4
    While completing step 3, lift your head, neck, and upper chest out of the water to breathe. Do not remove your hands from the water.
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  5. 5
    Bending your knees, bring your feet towards your bottom. Make a circular motion with your feet until they meet with your legs fully extended once again. Complete this step as fast as possible.
    • Start your kick about when you are breathing. You can start a little earlier but no later.
    • Image titled Swim the Breaststroke Step 5
  6. 6
    Glide! But not for too long. In competitions, DO NOT go over 1 or 2 seconds, as it will slow you down a lot.
    • Without gliding for too long don't forget to glide and don't a short glide. Give yourself a fair glide time.
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  7. 7
    Do not take 2 strokes with 1 breath. This WILL give you automatic disqualification. If you want to take your breath every other stroke, then you have to lift your head up and put it back down. If you don't and just do 2 strokes without lifting up your head, you will be disqualified, so make sure that you at least lift up your head. Also, when you take a breath, do not look up. Instead, look down at the water. With every stroke of your hands and arms, it will take your head up automatically so don't move your head, as it will waste your energy. When you are almost finished, touch the shore with both hands at the same time, or else you will be disqualified.
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  • Maintain your head position in such a way that your spine remains straight. In other words, look down towards the bottom of the pool while you are swimming and breathing. Many people tend to look straight ahead. The problem with looking forward and not down is that by looking forward, your neck and head are not in line with your spine. As a result, your head is cocked back, resulting in your hips dropping, causing you to drag your entire body. By looking down, you allow your hips to raise up, your spine to stay straight, and your body to streamline through every stroke you take.
  • Remember the mantra "pull, breathe, kick, glide" while you are swimming.
  • Make sure your kick is no wider than the width of your shoulders. This is so your legs don't jut out on your sides. The reasoning behind this is to prevent unnecessary drag on your body. By keeping your kick the same width as your shoulders, you are making sure that when you draw back your legs towards your body for the next kick, you are remaining in a hydrodynamic position resulting in a more efficient stroke.
  • Do not be tempted to rush through the glide; it is actually the fastest part of the stroke. However, in races, gliding for too long will slow you down.
  • For more speed, breathe between the pull and the kick as fast as possible. In the stance during the stroke when you breathe, there is resistance that can be removed if the pull, breathe, and kick portion are made in a fluid non-stop movement.
  • Keep your feet flexed while kicking. This provides more power to the stroke.
  • Remember that it is better to be able to go really far with each stroke than to be able to do tons of small strokes really fast. Try to go further with each stroke.
  • The stroke should end right before the kick ends.
  • A good tip would be to keep your head very low and your toes curled. Also cup your hands so water can't get through them.
  • Don't bring your elbows to your side. Just in front of you!
  • Do not bring your elbows past the end side of the rib cage. It will result in automatic disqualification.


  • Do not over-stretch your legs. You will start to cramp up and the tightness in your legs will cause you to slow down and throw off your rhythm and timing.
  • Keep your hips away from the bottom of shallow pools; this could result in serious injury to the feet, legs and hips.
  • Before doing Breaststroke, ensure you have warmed up (such as doing front crawl) before attempting the stroke otherwise it could cause damage to the knees.

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