Freestyle and Backstroke Breakouts

You’re coming out of a freestyle or backstroke turn, streamlining on your side. With which arm do you pull first?

You can create several advantages by pulling first with the arm that has the shoulder facing the bottom: (Note: Because of the natural rotation, or body roll, in freestyle, it is easy to tell which side is facing the bottom. However, on backstroke, most swimmers push off fairly flat on their backs. Do what the best backstrokers do and drop one shoulder a split second before your breakout to gain the advantages described below.)

  1. You can gain more rotational power and distance. This rotational power allows you to use your hips more effectively, greatly increasing the distance you cover on your first stroke cycle.
  2. By taking your first breath on the opposite side of your breakout stroke (breakout stroke on the left, first breath to the right), you ensure that you will do a complete stroke cycle before your first breath. (Note: Swimmers who breathe on their left side should streamline on their sides with the right shoulder facing the bottom.)
  3. By controlling the timing of your first breath, you can hold the velocity gained from the push much longer, and carry this increased velocity into the rest of the length.
  4. In addition, by controlling the timing of the first breath, you will find it easier to reach your ideal tempo (stroke rate).