Breaststroke is one of the oldest swimming styles and is used particularly often in the national area. Nevertheless it is one of the most difficult techniques in swimming. The frequent application in the national area is connected by the DLRG and with it connected rescue thoughts.

According to international competition regulations, it was initially permitted to bring the arms forward over water, but this developed into butterfly stroke swimming. Today, the technique of breaststroke is swum with the undulation technique (wave movement), the overlap technique (no glide phase) and the sliding technique (especially in the 200m range). In international competitions distances of 50 to 200 meters are completed.

Competition rules

  • The body must be kept in the chest position during the whole distance. – After the start and each turn the body may make a complete arm pull and a complete leg movement. – During each cycle, part of the head must break through the water surface.
  • The movements of the arms and legs must be simultaneous and in a horizontal plane. – The elbows must remain under water during the extension phase of the arms. – The hands must not be brought back further than to the hip. – At every turn and at the finish line, both hands must be used to strike.

Motion description

Arm movement: The modern breaststroke is characterized by a wave-like movement (undulation technique). Similar to dolphin swimming, the body is brought into a wave form by successive arm and leg movements. The arms dive into the water stretched out.

They are continuously turned outwards. The elbows stop and the elbow angle is increasingly closed in order to create the largest possible and most efficient working path against the abutment. At this point the torso is directed upwards/backwards so that the arms can work optimally.

At chest height the elbows are brought to the body and the forward movement of the arms is initiated. At the end of the inward movement the head is above the water surface and inhalation takes place. The arms should be stretched forward as much as possible in order to create as little resistance as possible in the water.

During the forward movement of the arms, the head is placed in the water. Leg movement: Leg movement is the greater difficulty in breaststroke. In order to create as little resistance as possible against the swimming direction, only the lower legs are used when striking the legs. The thighs remain standing and the lower legs are attached to the buttocks. Then the feet are turned outwards (supination) and the lower legs are moved in a circle.


Typical mistakes made when hatching are:

  • Arms are not fully extended at the beginning of the pull phase. Therefore, the working stroke of the arms is significantly shortened and the propulsion through the arms is reduced. – The hands are not perpendicular to the swimming direction.

The water is therefore only cut and the abutment cannot be built up. – The knees are pulled below the belly. This gives the body a braking effect, because it works against the water resistance.

  • The head is lifted too much to breathe. Thereby a lot of energy is wasted.