Swimming World Presents “Technique Misconceptions: Breaststroke and Butterfly Breathing Revisited”

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Technique Misconceptions: Breaststroke and Butterfly Breathing Revisited

Many people believe that it is worth copying the technique of the fastest swimmers. In reality, even the fastest swimmers have technique limitations, but they offset them with strength and conditioning. The purpose of this series of articles is to address scientifically the technique misconceptions that have become “conventional wisdom,” and to present options that are more effective.

A previous “Misconceptions” article on breaststroke breathing (SW June 2015) explained the common technique misconception of lifting the “head, neck, and upper chest out of the water.” One coach described this ineffective technique by saying that the angle at the neck was fixed so that it was like the head was “in a cast with your neck and your shoulder” (Urbanchek, 1995).

To achieve a more effective breathing position, a swimmer must extend at the neck while keeping the chin at the surface of the water. The result is less vertical motion and a more level body position that generates less resistance and more propulsion.

This month’s article presents a continuation of that article with examples of elite swimmers.

In most cases, conventional wisdom develops from observing and modeling the technique of top swimmers. A fast performance time is usually sufficient justification for adopting a given element.

A technique element based “only” on science and research, however, requires considerably more justification! This article covers a scientifically-based technique element used by a fast swimmer as part of that justification.

Dr. Rod Havriluk is a sports scientist and consultant who specializes in swimming technique instruction and analysis. His unique strategies provide rapid improvement while avoiding injury. Learn more at the STR website, or contact Rod through info@swimmingtechnology.com.

To read more about the technique misconceptions surrounding breaststroke and butterfly breathing, check out the December 2017 issue of Swimming World Magazine, available now!

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[PHOTO BY ROB SCHUMACHER, USA TODAY SPORTS ]

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SWIMMING TECHNIQUE MISCONCEPTIONS: BREASTSTROKE AND BUTTERFLY BREATHING REVISITED
by Rod Havriluk
Following the conventional wisdom for both breaststroke and butterfly breathing results in excess vertical motion that has a negative impact on performance. An effective breathing motion requires a swimmer to extend completely at the neck so that the body remains more level, thereby minimizing resistance and maximizing propulsion.

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Author: Taylor Brien

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Taylor Brien is the Circulation and Operations Manager at Swimming World. A native of Bettendorf, IA and a 2015 graduate of Illinois College, she has covered a variety of events since joining the SW team in 2015, including the NCAA Championships, World Championships, Olympic Trials, and 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

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