Breaststroke Turn

The breaststroke turn can make or break your race, especially in short course swimming.  We have seen breaststokers kill the others in the pool only to end up losing the race because their turns were lacking.  So pay attention and practice! 

The turn can be broken down into the following components:

The Approach.  A swimmer's turn does not begin on the wall.  It starts yards before reaching the wall when the swimmer begins to site the wall.  This is where the swimmer is focusing on the wall.  This is also where laziness can really hurt you, because as you are looking at the wall, your mind will automatically start recalculating your stroke length to bring you into the wall at just the right amount of strokes.  If you forget to concentrate on the distance to the wall you may be stuck short-stroking the last stroke or trying to stretch out the last stroke too far--in other words, you'll be caught in between strokes.  And, that is where a huge portion of races are lost. So, to prevent this, site the wall from far away.  

On your last stroke you want to get your body completely stretched out to hit the wall.  You do not, however, want to be gliding into the wall.  Keep your head down to decrease drag and increase reach.  At the end of your stretch you should nail the wall.

The Turn.  Both of your hands should be outstretched in front of you in a streamlined position as you hit the wall.  Do not GRAB the side!  You should place your hands flat on the side of the wall at water level.  You say, "how can I hold on?"  Well, it will take some getting used to, but your your hands should stick due to the forward momentum of your body keeping pressure on your hands and the wall.  As you turn you will continue the pushing with your hands to retain that pressure.

As you touch the wall you will begin tucking your legs to your chest and pulling one of your hands down and back.  Your body should also be pivoting to a 90% angle.  The arm you drop below the surface will be used to rotate and prep your body for the push-off.  Using a sculling motion with your hand and a bicep curl motion with your arm should get you in the right position.  Your upper body should move away from the wall and your lower body toward it, with knees tucked.  Your feet should plant on the wall just below where your hand was.  Your hand that was on the wall should begin passing over your head to get you into a streamlined push-off  position.

At the end of your maneuvering, you should have both feet on the wall (mostly on their toes) and your arms locked in above your head in a streamlined position.  Your overall body position should be at a 90 degree angle with the bottom of the pool.  This means that one of your sides is facing the bottom of the pool and your stomach is facing the side of the pool.  

The Push & Glide.  This is by far the most important area of the breaststroke turn!  As your body gets into the final position, your legs should already be initiating the push-off.  You will push like hell while on your side.  Your body should corkscrew slightly as you glide, getting you closer to your normal swimming position.  Get a good glide here as you maintain a tight streamline.

As you begin to slow (your body will learn the right timing through practice), you will initiate the first underwater pull.  We believe the details of this will come naturally through practice.  The goal, of course, is to use both arms for an amazing pull.  We recommend using a little (a very little) body butterfly kick with this pull.  This is technically illegal, but if done correctly and subtly enough, you will gain a huge edge every time without the DQ!  Since natural body movement is allowed on the pull and the water naturally distorts vision slightly, you should always be able to get a little bit in to every turn.  A little body undulation done right will give you up to a quarter body length boost on your competition.  Do not get greedy though, since you will get deeqed if you try too hard.  As with all tips, practice this one often.  With this tip, get a friend, or preferably a coach or ref, to help you judge how legal it looks from outside of the pool.  Also note, if you are in an end lane, you need to be extra careful since the ref will be able to see you more clearly than if you were in the middle of the pool.

Your body should stiffen at the end of the pull with your head down, legs together, toes pointed, arms in tight next to your sides, and torso pulled in.  Get as much glide out of this as possible.  As you start to slow (practice will help you on the timing), you will do your kick.  Arms should begin to come up under your body with palms turned towards your chest and your head should begin to lift as you kick.  Once your arms and hands are back in position, you will pull yourself up out of the water as high as possible in order to get your legs and body up into a high, planed position.  Your normal stroke will then begin.

If you nail the arm pull, you should gain about a quarter body length on your competition.  If you nail the whole thing, you might gain more (unless he or she is also gugly-trained!).  If you don't, keep practicing the timing and the technique!



Breaststroke Turn 1.8 Kb