Full Breaststroke Pullout in the IM

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Full Breaststroke Pullout in the IM?

We have just completed a really good video series on doing a correct breaststroke pullout. There are many nuances to using a great technique in the breaststroke pullout, and it is important to get them all right.

However, I am still not convinced yet that doing a breaststroke pullout in the individual medley is the best tactic. Particularly in the 400 individual medley, during the back/breast transition, when oxygen is in great demand, it may be better to use a dolphin-kick-and-up technique rather than a full breaststroke pullout.

We have tested the speed of the breaststroke pullout using the dolphin-kick-and-up pullout technique compared to a full breaststroke pullout on at least a dozen swimmers. In every single case, the time to 15 meters has been the same or faster using the dolphin-kick-and-up technique, compared with the full breaststroke pullout.

There is no dispute about the best technique for making the back to breast transition in the individual medley. The crossover transition offers three distinct advantages over all other techniques. First, it is the only transition where the swimmer can see the wall and anticipate the transition before it happens. Second, the crossover transition takes advantage of the law of inertia by flowing in the same direction. Third, the swimmer doing the crossover transition can extend the reaching arm farther than with any other type of transition.

Some coaches refuse to teach the crossover transition to young age group swimmers because the young swimmers don’t have the aerobic capacity to complete a full breaststroke pullout after the transition. Instead, they often abandon the pullout somewhere in the middle to catch a breath of air.

With the crossover transition being so much faster, it would make more sense to teach young swimmers to do a crossover transition correctly. Then, rather than using a full breaststroke pullout, teach them to use the single dolphin-kick-and-up technique to transition to breaststroke. By doing so, they are not sacrificing any time on the pullout, but they are gaining time with the faster transition and getting oxygen sooner.

To do a crossover transition legally and well in competition, it requires at least 100 practices doing it correctly. To do the crossover transition extremely well requires at least 500 practices or more.

Particularly for the fast breaststrokers at any age or ability, it may be better for them to use a fast crossover transitions into a dolphin-kick-and-up pullout rather than doing a full breaststroke pullout in the individual medley.

I am not trying to go against the grain here. I am simply offering a logical alternative for young and for possibly all IM swimmers.

Yours in Swimming,

Gary Sr.

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