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Breaststroke Body Position
To teach the correct body position for freestyle -- and this is a glide position -- I extend the swimmer’s arms, fingers together, so that the arms squeeze against the side of the head with the arms higher than the ears.
I want her fingers straight forward with her hands angled down with a bend at the wrist.
The body is straight and her toes are pointed.
Lean her chest deeper in to the water.
To teach breaststroke kick, I use a 5-step process. For the first step, the swimmer sits on the side and extends her legs. I want her to know what flexing is and what it feels like, so I push the feet back and flatten them. She feels what this does to the muscles along her leg.
When she spreads the toes out it helps her feel the flex position. Now I can teach her the kick while she’s sitting on the side.
Her feet drop down and her heels touch the wall. Next she flexes and turns the feet out, then brings the lower leg around and together.
For step two in teaching the breaststroke kick, I have the swimmer lie on their belly on a kickboard. First, I hold the lower legs with my fingers on top and my thumb underneath.
I say “suit” as I bring her heels up toward her suit and her knees come apart just a little bit – no wider than her shoulders.
Then I say “flex” as I flex her feet out.
Now watch closely -- I turn my hands palm up as I put my thumbs on her big toes. I put my fingertips on the top side of her feet like this. I’m putting some torque on her feet -- outward and down at the same time.
She’s learning the meaning of “flex” and outward rotation.
Now I say “circle” as I rotate her lower leg back and around.
I say “squeeze” as the feet and legs come together.
For step three in teaching breaststroke kick, I do the same thing in the water, keeping the feet under water so she feels the water with her feet.
In step four of the learning process for breaststroke kick, I have the swimmer hold a kickboard like this, making sure the eyes look down and that the arms are straight with the elbows higher than the ears.
She is doing the flex by herself and I’m controlling the width of her knees as she brings her heels up and as she begins extending her legs back.
In step five -- the final step -- we take away the kickboard and the swimmer kicks in the glide position with her arms higher than her ears and straight ahead, hands together and angled down.
Make sure the swimmer keeps her chin off her chest. She kicks three times without breathing and with a long glide after each kick.
I use a two-step process for teaching the breaststroke pull. In step one, the swimmer is out of the water. I have her lie on her belly with her chin right on or a little back from the edge. She extends her arms straight ahead. She is in the “I” position (long and straight like the letter “I”).
I put my hand on her palms like this and have her press her arms out straight to a “Y” position (the body and arms form a shape like the letter “Y”).
Now, I keep her elbows up and she presses her forearm to a vertical position with her hands flat against the wall.
Next she scrapes the little finger against the wall and inward (Scoop) as the thumbs turn up toward the face. Then she extends her arms forward (Shoot).
The positions are: “I” ... “Y” ... “Scoop” ... and “Shoot.” This is easy for the swimmer to remember.
For step two in teaching the breaststroke pull, the swimmer gets in the water and begins in the glide position. I use my hands to give her some resistance so that she gets a feel for the correct pull pattern. There’s no breathing yet -- just the pull.
To teach breaststroke breathing, I put my forearm along the swimmer’s spine and my hand on the back of her head. The other hand is flat against her forehead.
I move her body as a unit. After she presses out to a “Y” and starts to scoop in, I move her up for a breath as I keep her neck in line with her spine.
As she shoots the hands forward, I return her to the glide position.
Putting It All Together
When the swimmer is ready to put all the parts together, I have her do something called Separation Drill. She does the arms only... then the legs only. The pull and the kick are separated.
I have the swimmer do separation drill first without breathing...
... and then with breathing.
Then, she just starts her kick a little sooner and we have breaststroke with the correct timing.