How to Swim Breaststroke the Race Club Way

In this Fast Swimming Techniques Video, Gary Hall Sr. reveals how to swim breaststroke the Race Club way. We believe that the swimmer must get into a full streamline after each narrow kick in order to minimize frontal drag and maximize distance per stroke. Aaron Greenberg demonstrates one of the best examples of Breaststroke in the Race Club style! What drives us forward in breaststroke is for the most part our legs. External hip rotation flexibility is a huge factor is swimming breaststroke fast. Learn the details that will make huge improvements in your swim training program.

Related Aqua Notes: Read For Fly and Breaststroke: Use Your Head by Gary Hall Sr.

27 Responses to How to Swim Breaststroke the Race Club Way

  1. Alex

    Nice video. It is very crucial what has been said here. The immersion phase in fast breaststroke is very crucial. This is the moment when we transform the body lift into forward motion with extending the arms forward. Even if breaststroke may look like stop & go it is more to me like winding the spring.

  2. Lee Atendido

    My daughter Sydney was a swimmer in both of your camps in Buffalo NY. She has been swimming very good over the last few years – and has taken to the breaststroke as her strongest race stroke. We always speak of “Drag Trumps Power.” One thing we have been having problems with is trying to get her split differentials down. i.e. – 100 Br prelims 30.97/35.75 – finals 30.68/36.60. I know its probably impossible to Dx from a txt, but do you have any tips for race strategies. I do notice that the last 25, as she is tiring she tends to straighten up a bit more – but she seems to nail the first 50 and is always under 30 on her relay split, but that last 50 is really frustrating her. Any thoughts would be welcome and hope all is well – you and Richard have really had an impression on her swim passion. Lee

    • Gary Hall Sr.

      Hi Lee! I remember Sydney very well and recall she had a very strong breaststroke. The split differential is usually due to a fitness issue or not training to sustain her speed. To do that, she needs to learn how to pace the first 50 better and accelerate in the second half. Takes experience and practice to do that.

      Gary Sr.

  3. benoit

    Hello Mr Hall,

    I am a huge fan of breastroke, for it is very technical and I find that it is a timming stroke, therfore awarness of the body position during the stroke is crucial.

    My interrogation, is how do I find the right hand/arm width in the outsweep, before the insweep? Is there any indication to where it is time to start the insweep? Can you tell me one or two drills that can help me find the information I am looking for?

    Thank you.


  4. Gary Hall Sr.

    You are right. The timing of the outsweep of the hands is crucial. Too soon causes too much frontal drag during the kick strike and the kick provides most of the propulsion. In general it is better to error on a smaller, faster pull circle and depend more on the legs, keeping the hands/arms streamlined in front after the kick.

  5. John Dunlap

    Dear Race Club,

    Not sure how long this can comment can be. Wondering if there are more elements to the 50 yard breast stroke race we are forgetting about.
    We have her eat 400-600 calories and hydrate with water 90 minutes before race gun.
    45 minutes before race warm up 600 meters at 80%.
    Sprint 3 25’s off the block to get the heart rate up in the
    160 range.
    Go sit down and socialize with friends or listen to ITunes but rest. Try to stay out of the sun and try to keep off your feet.
    Behind blocks breath deep in and out and relax. Up on the blocks “as a ritual”
    “Take your Marks” take in a final comfortable deep breath and hold it before the dive and pull out/dolphin kick. Full lungs help. At the wall turn around quickly and use the wall for all you are worth and doing the pull out/ dolphin kick. Keep winding up to the finish wall and try to not to take an extra stroke.

    When its over you can’t talk and don’t want to talk. To out of breath to talk.


  6. gary hall sr

    There are many components to a fast swim…physiological, mental, nutritional. You have touched on many of them. The 50 breaststroke should be swum very differently than the 100 and 200, with much higher stroke rate. However, the fundamentals of reducing frontal drag apply to all distances.

  7. Arianna

    I am a swimmer , and that is some good breastroke it shows just the fact that you have to whip your arms forward in a fast motion this I would rate is a five star video go the race club!

    • Amy Hall

      Thanks Arianna!

  8. Pingback: Friday the 13th… breastroke the race club way!!! | carlaswimming

  9. Austin

    Hi Gary,
    I was reading an article, that said that when kicking breaststroke, you are supposed to “kick back and downwards, like a butterfly kick but with the feet grabbing water.” I was just verifying with you if that is a good idea.

    • gary hall sr

      Hi Austin,
      We agree with the concept of kicking backwards, but not downwards. One of the biggest mistakes made by poor breaststrokers is allowing the feet to ‘hang’ at the end of the kick. The good ones lift the feet/legs up at the end of the kick and point the toes backward. Hanging feet increase the drag forces by 40%….so lift the legs and point the toes at the end of the kick.

  10. David Béjar

    I´m David from Ecuador in South America, I would like to improve my times in breastroke: 50 meters 31,80; 100 meters 1:09,88; 200 Meters 2:37,50 all of them on short course pool (25m).
    I think i have to improve technique but in my country there are no good coaches or special labs and I know I have a lot of mistakes. I want your opinion, you can see these videos on my youtube channel: 50 breastroke lane 2

    100 breastroke lane 6:

    and also this 25m sprint underwater video:

    Please help me with my goals.

    Also here is some data:
    High: 1,70 m
    Weigh: 62Kg
    Fat %: 16.3%
    Age: 21
    Daily training time: 1hr gym, 1hr swimming (2000 to 3000 meters, just 1000meters breastroke swimming) , ½ hr core training on land.

  11. gary hall sr

    Hi David,

    We may be going to Peru (outside Lima) in early February (5-10)for a one week camp. We would love to see you there if you can make it.

    Gary Sr.

  12. John McCallister

    Hi Mr. Hall,

    I’ve always had a strong kick and pull in my breaststroke. But i seem to have trouble with shooting my arms forward. Is there anyway I can improve that? I need to get under 36 seconds for the Provincial Junior Finals.


    • Gary Hall Sr.

      The best drill for jamming your arms/hands into a racing streamline position after the recovery is by using fins and flutter kick. The fins enable you to elevate the shoulders maximally and then snap the body and head down into a racing streamline position.

  13. Ken Pollock

    I’ve been teaching swimming for over 40 yrs. In teaching Breast Stroke, I taught, believing a wide sweep (circle) of the legs & feet, with feet pronated, of course: then body, legs, arms, feet and toes streamlined at completion of stroke’s cycle. Watching several U Tube documents show the legs doing more of a whip kick without a wide rotation of the legs. Do you get more of a leg thrust with a smaller cicle movement of the legs?

    • Gary Hall Sr.

      Ken, there are two good reasons for a narrow and fast kicking cycle in breaststroke. First, in order to take advantage of the coupling energy of the body/head pressing down and forward, the kick propulsion must start when the body strikes the water (maximum kinetic energy). Second with a narrow kick, the swimmer has a bigger vortex to push against (by the legs being drawn forward narrowly). Both lead to much more propulsion.

  14. Swimmer Mom

    Hello Gary,

    I am looking for some advice on helping my 15yo daughter improve in LC breaststroke and LC swimming in general. She has a winter jr nat cut in 100y BR but barely has a AAA cut in 200 br. Most of this is that she never learned how to swim 200 races period. She is a natural sprinter and fails at anything over 100 and certainly anything over 200. She does not know the “technique” behind swimming longer sprints. Its either 100% all out for 50 and 100 races on all laps, or much slower maybe at 80-90% for 200 races.

    So I have a few questions:

    1. For 200 yard BR, is it true that the kick is to be just as powerful (100% effort) as that of the 50-100 BR, and the only diff is gliding more for 200 yard races?

    2. For 200 yard races on all other strokes, what should the effort be compared to that of 100 yard races? ie, if she swims 40-100 yard freestyle at 100% all out, the 200 yard should be at 90-95% effort?

    3. How does stroke technique and kick force differ in short course vs long course, especially for breaststroke?

    Thank you for your time!

    Swim Mom

    • garyhallsr

      Dear Swim Mom.

      All great questions. Let’s start with breaststroke e. In our opinion the best technique for the 50 and 100 are with high stroke rate and powerful coupling motions…a la Adam Peaty and Lilly King. In the 200, there seem to be two techniques; sustained stroke rate (Rebecca Soni) or wind up technique (starting slow stroke rate and building to fast stroke rate with each 50). Most use the latter technique. The intensity of the kick is high in both events…but the stroke rate is very different. The SC differs from LC in that one can finesse the turns and perform better in SC. LC is more about pure swimming. Kevin Cordes, for example, does well with slower stroke rate SC because his turns are so good. Not as well in LC.

    • garyhallsr

      Oh yes, and in freestyle, it is about both intensity and stroke rate. One cannot hold the same intensity of 6 beat kick for the 100 as in the 50, the 200 as in the 100 etc. Stroke rates should be highest in the 50, lower in the 100 and lowest in the 200 and up. With shoulder driven freestyle technique, we like to see 120 and up in the 50, 100 in the 100 and around 90 for 200 and up. Hope this helps.

  15. Nigel Ang

    Hi,im a a competitive swimmer from singapore.I would like to know your opinion on this.I am still learning the stroke rate of racing my 200 breast.I did a 2:47.22 this past march.My coach is wanting me to swim a 2:35 next month at nationals.Do you think its possible?also what is a good warm up for racing 200 breast?because i always warm up alone and do what i always do but im still trying to find a good warm up set for me to do.

    • garyhallsr

      Most of the elite 200 breaststrokers today wind up the race. That means they start with a slow stroke rate (around 30) with lots of streamline glide and build the stroke rate of each 50, ending at the end with a stroke rate near 50. Those that tend to keep the stroke rate the same, particularly on the men’s side, don’t seem to do as well.
      Warm ups are very individualized, but in general, one must warm up with at least 1000 to 1500 meters, but always do 4 x 50 build, trying to make each 50 faster and with an increasing stroke rate…similar to the way you will swim the race.

      • Nigel Ang

        Hi.Im actually only 1.6m in height so i have to go out with a strong and moderate pace at the start.i not priveliged do much gliding.

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