How do you swim breast stroke?

Swimming breaststroke
File Photo Credit: Andrew Tan/SSC

By Malcolm Baey


The breaststroke is also known as the “froggy” stroke among children learning to swim as it sounds more endearing. The movement also resembles that of a frog swimming in water hence the use of this term. It is the most popular recreational style because it is very stable and does not require a lot of effort if a good technique is applied.

It can be a tricky stroke to master but once you manage to coordinate it properly, it can become a very leisurely way to swim. Here are 5 steps to ensure you master the breaststroke.

Step 1: Body position

Keep your body flat and lie facing down in the water with your body kept in line with the water surface.

Step 2: Arm movement

There are three steps in arm movement - the Catch, Pull and Recovery. A fun way to learn this is to imagine scooping a gigantic bowl of ice-cream (Catch), pushing towards your mouth to eat (Pull) and then doing it again (Recovery). 

1. Catch - With arms out straight and palms facing downwards, press down and out at the same time.

2. Pull - With elbows elevated above hands, pull hard towards your chest. The pull should have an accelerating hand movement pressing back and downward by the palm and forearms.

3. Recover - Join both palms together in a prayer like fashion in front of your chest and push out until your arms are straight again. This position helps reduce drag when pushing against the water.

Breaststroke arms

Step 3: Breathing Technique

Lift your head and neck above water at the end of the pulling movement for a breath. In the recovery phase, exhale bubbles in the water whilst your hands are pushed forward. Remember to use the praying position and the correct breathing techniques! 

Step 4: Leg Action

Starting with your legs straightened, bend your knees to bring your heel towards your bottom and make a circular motion outwards with your feet until they return to the starting position. When your knees are being bent, your feet should be below the water surface and shoulder width apart.

An important point to remember is keeping your feet in a dorsi-flexed position (flat-foot) whilst doing the breaststroke kick for more thrust.

breaststroke legs

Step 5: Learn to Glide

After executing the breaststroke kick, your body should be in a streamlined position with your arms and legs straightened. Stay in this position for one to two seconds as the forward propulsion by your legs should allow you to “glide” forward. 

Notes on Coordination

  • When your breathing is finished, drop your head down in water and begin the kick.
  • When your kick is finished, hold out your arms straight in streamline position. (Gliding)
  • After 1-2 seconds, begin your arm movement again. (Step 2)
Helpful Tips
  • Do not rush through the gliding phase as it is actually the fastest part of the stroke. 
  • Keep your feet in flat-footed position when performing the kick.

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