Whoever, for whatever reason, does not master the first discipline in the crawl, is faced with the question of how to at least tick it off faster. Because breaststroke costs energy and time. And you don’t have either in triathlon. So what to do to swim more efficiently?
I admit it: I already saw myself rowing through the lake as the only starter breaststroke in the competition. But since I finally got to watch a triathlon with age group athletes live and in color, I know I probably won’t be alone in this style of swimming after all. So far, so good. In the fact that I can not swim along at the top, it changes precious little. But is there anything I can do to make at least a little faster progress in the breaststroke?
Breaststroke for triathletes: Faster is (almost) always possible
A question that may also be on the minds of some of you. And that is in good hands with him: Johann Ackermann aka "the swimming coach" has already taught many people the right technique – not only for the crawl. Breaststroke may also be on the schedule for triathletes. Not everyone pulls off the act in one position, as I have been assured several times. One or the other has even been sighted in the supine position in competition. Respect!
- Reading tip
More about learning to swim and what this has to do with coach communication, Johann explains here!
However: There is no denying that crawl remains the most efficient way to move around in the water – especially in triathlon. Because in breaststroke, as in the other disciplines, the legs are the motor. But this also makes them the power hogs par excellence. This is not only due to the fact that the thigh muscle (Musculus quadriceps femoris) is the largest muscle in the body.
In breaststroke, the legs provide the propulsion, while in crawl, the propulsion is provided by the arm stroke. Since they are also used for cycling and running, efficiency through the right technique is the trump card for breaststroke swimmers.
Well, then: Just give us your top tips, Johann!
1. Stay in the stretch for an extra long time when swimming breaststroke
"In breaststroke, the most important thing is to get nice and long," Johann explains. "The arms should be held together in a stretched forward position and not immediately pulled back again."An extensive glide phase becomes a gamechanger in the breaststroke. If you use them to their full potential, the bottom line is that you will go faster. However, this includes keeping the head under water – between the shoulders – while gliding.
Not so easy if, like me, you have a junk shoulder and about 30 percent less range of motion when stretching in the joint. But a few seconds on 100 meters are possible, if you force yourself to take the head low in the glide phase. For 1.5 kilometers it’s even a few minutes. Even neck or back pain (danger of hollow backs!) belong to the past through correct stretching and head lowering.
- Video tip
You can also see really nice (professional) swimming pictures in the race video of the Challenge Kaiserwinkl-Walchsee!
2. Make only a small triangle during the arm pull
Let’s move on to the arm pull. Here, according to Johann, the following motto applies: "Instead of painting a big sun, it is better to pull the arms under the chest and thus very short when swimming breaststroke."This is how the "small triangle" is created, and you also get back into the gliding phase more quickly.
Another tip for not overdoing the arm pull: bring the arms back in the field of vision. This also makes the pull smaller.
3. Pull the heel towards the buttocks during the breaststroke leg stroke
Breaststroke generally, as the name does not necessarily suggest, goes on the thigh and buttock muscles. But this also means that the technique in the lower extremities is more decisive. In plain language: "With a correct leg stroke the feet are pulled in a so-called swing straddle. Meaning: the heel is pulled toward the butt – not the knee toward the abdomen – and then the leg is swung around so that the water is pushed away to the back in a rather rounded motion."
Practical side effect of concentrating on the heels pointing towards the buttocks, as I notice when trying it out: the feet are thus automatically brought into the correct posture and pulled with the tips towards the shins, so that an L-shape is created. During the impression you are directly more efficient on the way.
Conclusion: Faster breaststroke is possible, and thanks to Johann’s quick tips, it’s not rocket science. Bets ..!?