It is well known that the fastest breaststrokers have one of the longest and fastest breaststroke pullouts.
If you are not sure what I mean by a pullout, it is basically what happens underwater after the start or the turn, right before the swimmer starts swimming normally.
Now, why is that?
Are they bigger, stronger, or smarter?
Not really. They could be, but this is not usually why they are so good at it.
They just know when to pull and how to position their body in the water in order to decrease the amount of resistance and increase the speed, so in a sense, you can say they are smarter :).
With a little bit of practice, even you could be the one coming out of the water ahead of the entire competitor field.
Let's discuss what factors we have in play when swimming breaststroke, but first watch this video. I'll explain the steps right below.
1) PUSH OFF
First, there is the push off the wall or the block.
This needs to be powerful and swift.
When you push off, the body needs to be in a perfect streamline, squeezing your ears and head between your arms and stretching those arms out of your shoulders.
Make sure to keep your feet tightly together as well as your fingers (no sticking your thumb out).
One other thing to keep in mind is the angle of your lower back.
When we walk, we have a slight dip and curve in the lower back, however, the best streamline position is when you keep this curve minimized, almost straight (this creates less water turbulence and better glide).
To practice this you can just simply lay on your back on the ground with your arms by your side and then press your lower back to the ground, getting rid of the gap in between your skin and the ground.
Once you master this position, slowly raise your arms into the streamlined position and keep pressing your lower back to the ground, so no gap is formed.
After this position becomes second nature for you, your streamline will be more efficient than ever.
3) THE DOLPHIN KICK
While you are in the streamlined position, you should perform a swift and powerful butterfly kick to keep the momentum off the wall going for a bit longer.
This kick is like a fly swatter snap.
4) THE PULL
Fourth, the first very powerful yet patiently carried out breaststroke pull.
You just finished your fly kick and your arms are in a streamlined position in front of your head.
Now you should set up your front catch.
You will need to patiently grab the water and achieve about a 90-degree angle at your elbow with your fingertips pointing towards the bottom of the pool and your palms back.
It is important to not rush this part of the catch setup process otherwise you risk your arms just slipping through the water.
Make sure this breaststroke pull is strong and you finish all the way at your butt by throwing your hand (as you'd throw a ball).
Also, pay attention that your pull keeps you going forward and not pushes you up towards the surface of the water (as if you'd just make one giant step up during the arm pull).
5) THE SHRUG
Now, the real trick is this.
Listen carefully, once your arms are at your side and you have finished the arm stroke, shrug your shoulders instantly to your ears.
You are probably thinking, WTF is he talking about.
Well, try it and I guarantee you, that you'll feel the surge after your pull.
Basically, you are making your body smaller, so it can move with less resistance through the water.
Your pullout is going to be at least 1 meter longer.
6) THE RECOVERY
After you have finished your shrug glide, you will need to recover your arms forward again along with getting your legs primed for the kick.
Since your arms will be moving against the direction where you want to go, you need to keep them as close to your body as possible to eliminate any unnecessary drag.
At the same time start priming your legs by bending your knees, keep them as much in line with your body as possible (again to keep your body signature very small).
The kick should be strong as well, finishing with both of the soles of your feet snapping together and keeping the feet tightly against each other.
Here comes the other important surge in order for you to get in front of your competition.
Lastly, you just need to surface as smooth as possible, keeping your body low out of the water and your head down and stretching forward.
Make sure it is the back of your head breaking the surface of the water first and not your arms, otherwise you will lose the initial catch.
Good luck with your newly refined breaststroke pullout.
Feel free to leave any comments if anything of this is unclear or if you are having trouble mastering this technique.
I'll do my best to help.