By Roque Santos Photos by Bill Collins
Catch The "Wave": Part II
Learning the Wave Breaststroke Kick
In Part one the author presented a series of drills to help you master the arm stroke of the wave breaststroke. Part 2 focuses on kicking drills.

Because of its in-the-water arm recovery and the pattern of the kick, breaststroke has a lot of built-in resistance. To swim the stroke well, resistance must be minimized.

A breaststroker's goal should he to increase average speed (see dotted line on graph).

Speed vs Time Chart

To accomplish this, most breaststokers kick harder, attempting to raise the top part of the curve on the graph. Often, however, when the top part of the curve goes higher, the bottom goes lower. Thus, more effort is used to accomplish the same average speed.

The Hungarian wave breaststroker does not kick harder, but smarter.. .morc efficiently. A fastet kick is achieved by reducing water resistance, which is indi cated on the bottom of the curve.

Here are a few drills that teach a smarter, more efficient breaststroke kick.

Drill: Seated Breast Kick

Sit on the side of the pool with the legs in the water. Place the butt as close to the edge of the pool as possible. Beginning breaststrokers often kick with the top side of the feet. This is illegal. The breaststroker must kick with the sole of the foot. The more coordinated and flexible the ankles are, the better the kick is.

Seated Breast Kick

The goal of this drill is to push water straight out, away from the wall. First, take the right leg and lift it out of the water. Bend the knee so that the right foot is as close to the butt as possible. Turn the right foot, toes to the right, as far as possible without moving the hips or knee. Slowly at first, manipulate the sole or bottom of the foot to grab the water and push it straight away from the wall. The knee stays even with the shoulder as the leg extends. The sole of the right foot faces forward then gives a half turn andWorking
ends up facing left. At the end of the breaststroke kick, the soles of the feet clap together. At first, do this drill one foot at a time on the surface of the water. Next, graduate up to using both feet at the same time. This drill develops foot! eve coordination. It is also a great drill for teaching proper technique and for devel oping a greater "feel for the water."

Drill: Frog Kick Drill

The frog kick drill helps correct two common kicking problems: "half breast stroke kicks" and "parachute feet." This drill is performed in the water on stomach, with the back of the hands placed on the butt at all timcs.

Frog Kick drill

On the recovery of the breaststroke kick, the feet must go all the way to the butt before the kick begins. If the heels of the feet do not touch the fingers in this drill, then the breaststroker is not getting the most out of each kick. The kick should start as close to the butt as possible. If the knees only end up bending to 90 degrees, then the breaststroker is only kicking half kicks. If the feet only move half way to the butt, then the kick will not be as long or as strong as it should be. The longer the kick, the higher and longer the curve will stay up on the graph.

This drill also helps teach the feet to return straight to the butt. If the feet do not go straight up to the butt, then they slide out and up on the recovery. This will slow the breaststroker down, increasing the depth of the bottom of the curve on the graph. The feet are like two big parachutes when they do not recover behind the protection of the upper legs and butt.

To keep the feet from spreading apart too much on the recovery to the butt and fingers, pretend that the ankles are tied together on the recovery. When the heels touch the fingers, the feet may move apart and the kick starts.

Secondly, out of the water, practice grabbing the ankle and pulling the heel of the foot to touch the butt. The easier it is to do this out of the water, the easier it should be in the water. Stretching increases flexibility. Also, try arching the back more or throwing the hips forward to reach the feet to the butt.

Drill: Frog Kick on the Back

This drill helps solve two problems which create resistance: 1) The knees going too far apart during the kick and, 2) the knees coming up too far underneath the body.

Frog Kick on back

Perform this drill like the frog kick drill, but on the back instead of the stomach. The knees remain at shoulder width throughout the kick. In this position—in line with the outside of the body—the knees and thighs will not cause resistance. More importantly, if the knees are too far apart as the feet kick, then the force of the kick will be directed out, to the sides and back. When the knees are held at shoulder width, the force of the kick is directed straight back.

To help keep the knees closer together, place a pull buoy between the legs while kicking breaststroke. Also, try to pretend that the knees are tied together throughout the entire kick.

Doe Counsilman taught swimmers to avoid bringing the knees forward when the feet came to the butt. Instead, keep the body flat from the chest, stomach, hips and thighs when the feet recover before the kick begins. Bringing the knees up underneath the body is like putting on the breaks. Basically, this is how the bottom part of the curve lowers. While lying on the back in this drill, keep the surface of the water level with your chest, stomach, hips and thighs at all times. If the but sinks, or if the knees come out of the water, the breasrsrroker slows down.

The breaststroker can look to see if the knees remain near shoulder width. Also, the breastroker can see if the knees raise our of the water and if the body remains level from shoulder to knees. This is the perfect breaststroke kicking drill because the swimmer can see and feel for them selves if the kick is done properly.

Drill: Wall Breaststroke Kick

Facing the wall, kick breastsroke vertically with the hips pressed up against the wall. To do this successfully, the back must be arched. If the knees hit the wall or butt sticks out then the drill is being done incorrectly. One way to ensure that the hips remain pressed up against the wall is to have a friend push the butt toward the wall.

Full Stroke

Once you are comfortable with these drills, you will be ready to try the full stroke.

Here is the sequence of movements. The hand and feet movement starts and stops in the streamlined position. The body is level with the water. The hands move in a circular motion from slow to fast keeping the elbows in front of the shoulders. When the hips move forward, the hands start the in-sweep of the circular stroke, the head goes up, and the feet recover straight to the butt. As the breaststroker quickly moves through the flat- style prayer position, the breaststroker is at the height of the stroke, then the shoulders raise up (or shrug). The kick begins as the head goes forward and down. The elbows remain close to the surface of the water at all times. The palms face down as the arms quickly move forward with the elbows level with the hands. The sole of the feet clap together. The body lays level on the water. The next stroke starts in the streamline position. The head will stay level with the body until the hips move forward on the in-sweep of the circular stroke.

Roque Santos, winner of the 200 breaststroke at the 1992 U.S. Olympic Trials, conducts clinics that specialize in breaststroke. For further information, call: 916-343-4481 or fax 916-343-5194.