6 Everyday Struggles of a Breaststroke Specialist

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Photo Courtesy: Andy Ringgold/Aringo Photos

6 Everyday Struggles of a Breaststroke Specialist

By Diana Pimer

Breaststrokers are a unique class of swimmers. Some excel at IMs, while others can swim the stroke faster than freestyle. Even with these slight differences, there are some things that all breaststrokers can relate to. Not everyone understands why people enjoy swimming the slowest stroke, and some don’t really understand how to even move their bodies in that frog-like manner. Let’s take an inside look at some everyday struggles of a breaststroker.

1. Getting made fun of for your feet

Most swimmers have flexible ankles, good range of motion in their hips, and of course, strong shoulders. But most breaststrokers possess a set of turned out feet. This characteristic automatically helps a swimmer do breaststroke, because this outward motion is natural. And the weirdest part is breaststrokers embrace this. I remember being 12 years old listening to Ed Moses give a speech on how to make your ankles stretch outward more, and I’ve been stretching out my ankles on my school desk ever since. I also remember getting asked why I walk with my feet pointed out. Wait, that was just yesterday.


2. Holding everyone up

It’s happened to all of us. You’ve either been the hunter or the hunted in a crowded meet warm-up. And there’s nothing more annoying than running into a breaststroker during a full-on sprint. But there is nothing breaststrokers can do but try not to kick someone in the head or the stomach. Breaststrokers are constantly getting run-over in warm-ups or practices. Sorry, sprinters!


3. Making freestyle intervals…while doing breaststroke

Whether you are a club, high school, or collegiate breaststroker, there will be sets where you watch your teammates get plenty of rest on the wall and you barely make the interval. Fifties on :40, anyone? Breaststrokers are always racking their brains with questions such as, “how is this fair?” and “why didn’t I try harder to be decent at the other strokes?”.


4. Having to change your pullout.

Changing your pullout can be both a positive and negative experience. Pullouts for breaststrokers are like putting on your best pair of goggles. You rely on them and you just do it naturally. But with the pullout rules constantly changing, this old reliable part of our race gets confusing, frustrating, but also incredibly rewarding. Breaststrokers always have to be ready to adapt.


5. Timing

Breaststroke is all about timing. If one thing is off your whole stroke is off, there is no getting around it. From the kick and pull to not gliding into the walls, timing is something that needs to practiced every time breaststrokers swim the stroke or the race will not be successful. As difficult as it is in practice, focusing on timing is worth it!


6. Not breathing

Here’s where I probably lost you…saying you don’t breathe during a stroke where you do, indeed, breathe every stroke? In breaststroke, you are very limited to when you can breathe. Most of the stroke is spent in the glide position underwater, because that’s when breaststrokers are the fastest. Breaststrokers don’t get too much time to breathe in training, either, since most of the drills involve staying underwater for extra time. Ask any breaststroker, we don’t really get to breathe!


  1. avatar
    susanne pimer

    anther very good article

  2. avatar
    Samantha Waterson

    7. Complaints about breaststroke being easy.

    Every breaststroker knows the pain of not being able to breathe or having trouble making the send off, but only the passionate breaststrokers understand the fury of a Backstroker(which you the breaststroker have wished to be for so long) complaining about how easy breaststroke is. They who can make the intervals with minimal effort, actually absorb air, and have very little technique involves whatsoever. To most breaststrokers, the only stroke that rivals the hardness of breaststroke is butterfly, but even they cannot diss their stroke.

    • avatar

      Amen, sister!

    • Backstroker

      Hey! Backstrokers DO NOT get to breathe whenever we want. Our breathing also must be timed (especially when swimming all out). We may have our faces out of the water, but we risk getting water up our nose or inhaling water far more than any other swimmer. Speaking of having our faces out of the water, it’s virtually impossible to know where we are in the lane when training outdoors, not to mention the blinding sun in our eyes!

    • Jess Legge

      Trying to make freestyle intervals….the worst ??

    • Jess Legge

      10x150s freestyle..”Jess why don’t you do every other breastroke” ?

  3. Mark Grainge

    They forgot to mention leading the lane on kick sets ?

    • Tyler Yates

      The biggest problem is when the kick alternates.. Last on flutter, first on choice…it’ll wear you out for sure

    • Lobezno Meneses

      It’s not so bad leading the lane, it’s the fact that kick sets are the only time breaststrokers lead the lane.

    • Mark Grainge

      Yes. I kind of misread the title of the post. My comment was meant as a breaststroker strength rather than struggle. But you guys got that.

    • Tyler Yates

      I’ve kicked a 35 before and wasn’t even that great of a breaststroker..I heard people like kevin cordes can kick under 30…

    • avatar
      Tom Burke

      Except when the coach allows fins.

  4. Bethany Robinson

    Breaststroke squad feel this ? Hunter Small Heather Baxter Staisya Murphy

  5. Gonzalo Bunag

    Swim breaststroke with triathletes. Feel the resentment when you overtake them.

  6. avatar
    Tom Burke

    Notice the image in number 5, where the breaststroker is trying to keep his head looking down (neck straight.) Try catching a breath with the water rolling straight down across your mouth and nose.

  7. avatar

    And doing dolphin kick breaststroke during a stroke drill set beats doing a 6 kick 3 stroke backstroke every time.

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