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Coach Cassie,  Top Tips

How can I improve my breaststroke so I can swim faster?

​Our resident Olympian Cassie Patten answers your swimming questions​

I can swim front crawl but prefer breaststroke when swimming outdoors because I can see more! How can I improve my breaststroke so I can swim faster?

Janet Brown

Unless you’re Adam Peaty, breaststroke will always be slower than front crawl. This is due to the body position in the water – each time you lift your head your bottom half sinks, which causes drag and resistance. One way to make your stroke more powerful is to ensure your arms are getting hold of the water; as in all swimming strokes the underwater part is the most important. Maximise your pull by imagining your arms are circling a large mixing bowl (like you’re scooping up cake mixture) – your fingers down and elbows high. By having your fingers lower than your elbow it increases the surface area that moves the water; if your hands and elbows are flat you are slicing through the water and not moving it behind you, which will be slower.

You want your kick to be quite narrow and really work on ‘whipping’ your feet together at the end of each kick to increase the power. Breaststroke is a very technical stroke and is naturally quite slow, so if you wanted to increase your vision while swimming fast I would suggest you also work on your sighting technique. I hope that helps.

“Swimming was my whole life for over 20 years. I poured every ounce of enthusiasm into it. I am so fortunate to have found these new outlets for that enthusiasm.”

Cassie Patten won bronze in the first ever Olympic 10km marathon swim, in the Beijing 2008 Olympics. Cassie now coaches and is a frequent commentator at open water events.


Email your questions to: with the subject ‘Coach Cassie’

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