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As we look at Cullen’s breaststroke start, pulldown, and breakout, we’ll focus on all the component parts, and how to stay LEGAL as you do them.

Every great start begins with a clean entry at the front end. Cullen’s hands are locked into a tight, hand-over-hand streamline as he enters the water. Shoulders are held tight against the head. Feet are together with toes pointed. This tight streamline allows Cullen to maintain his momentum from the dive.

Step two is the pulldown. Cullen maintains his tight streamline until the moment he’s ready to separate his hands for the pulldown. The hands separate, anchor, and pull all the way back to the hips. Cullen’s body travels in a straight, direct line during the pulldown. He looks straight down...does not tuck his head...and keeps his feet together.

After the pulldown, Cullen shrugs his shoulders slightly and holds everything tight to the body to make himself as “small” and streamlined as possible.

The current rule for the breaststroke pullout is that you’re allowed to do one downward dolphin kick, and that the hands must separate before you deliver this single downward kick. Is Cullen legal? Yes. The hands separate as the legs rise slightly to set up for the kick. The legs deliver one downward kick as the hands and arms pull back. The body straightens and stays tight and level.

Step three is the recovery, and the goal is to stay SMALL and minimize resistance.

To do this, Cullen recovers the arms first...then the legs. Notice how he keeps his hands and arms close to the body. And that he waits until he can almost SEE his hands before he starts to set up his kick. Arms first...then the kick. Minimize drag.

Step four is kick into streamline, and again the goal is to minimize drag. Cullen stays small by hiding his feet and ankles behind his thighs. He keeps the kick small to maintain his speed into the breakout. And notice that after the kick his head his still tight between the arms, with eyes look just slightly forward.

Step five is the breakout. Cullen looks up slightly as the hands separate and the head leads up to air. To be legal, the head must break the surface before the hands begin the INSWEEP for the first stroke. Is Cullen legal? YES.

Before we move on, let’s do a quick review of the basics for a breaststroke breakout.
Step one is the entry. Tight streamline. Head locked between arms. Slight downward push with the feet to level out and send everything forward.

Step two is the pulldown. The hands separate. Set up the kick. Deliver the downward dolphin as the hands pull back to the hips. Slight shrug of the shoulders to stay compact. Body travels straight.

Step three is the recovery. Hands first. Sneak them up the body. See the hands before you set up the kick.

Step four is the kick. Keep it tight and hidden. Stay streamlined at the front end.

Step five is the breakout. Lead up to air with the head as the hands sweep out. Head breaks the surface before the insweep begins.