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15416 Views 21 Replies Latest reply: Jun 4, 2008 4:37 AM by Renee In Motion 1 2 Previous Next
physioK Amateur 31 posts since
Mar 19, 2008
Currently Being Moderated

Mar 19, 2008 4:56 AM

Breast stroke versus freestyle

Hi I was hoping to get  some ideas and thoughts on my swimming. I am hoping to complete an Olympic triathlon this summer after completing  3 sprint triathlons in the past. I am 44 years old and have never learned how to swim freestyle but so far completed the races by swimming the breast stroke. I am one of very few out there doing it this way. This year I set out to learn freestyle in order to "look " like a triathlete but I am having a real difficult time. My question is, should I bother trying to use freestyle when I am spending so much more energy and so far can only go a 100 yards? Is it worth the effort in the long run to change my swim? Note , I am not a competitive athlete. Just doing it for fun. At this point I am ready to give up and stick with my breast stroke  but I wanted to see if I could get some thoughts on this before I decide.

  • Joe_h1 Community Moderator 1,833 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    1. Mar 19, 2008 8:54 AM (in response to physioK)
    Re: Breast stroke versus freestyle

    once you get the hang of it freestyle will be more efficient and faster not to mention you won't get swum over and won't accidently kick someone in the head

    goals for 2011:

    break 19minutes for 5k

    break 2:42 for olympic triathlon probably Anthracite olympic

    break 3:16 for marathon ( a long shot but it's fun putting yourself out there)

  • niemsco Legend 189 posts since
    Sep 24, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    2. Mar 19, 2008 6:00 PM (in response to physioK)
    Re: Breast stroke versus freestyle


    Oh goodness yes, learn freestyle!  I tell you I've encountered swimmers in crowded starts that do breastroke and I have gotten kicked in the ribs, its unpleasant!  No one wants to be around you because of the kick, you are a lethal weapon!



    But seriously, take up some total immersion, seek some help out here from some of the fishes.  Once you start learning freestyle, you should be able to "cruise" with little effort.   Once you learn balance in the water, you will be learning a sport which may be your most enjoyable and relaxing!  Please learn freestyle, for the sake of the rest of us



  • goyogigo Rookie 1 posts since
    Sep 12, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    3. Mar 20, 2008 10:54 AM (in response to physioK)
    Re: Breast stroke versus freestyle


    If you are struggling with freestyle go with the breaststroke, but keep away from the main pack. I am 42 years old and completed the Fl. Half-Iron last year and I used the breaststroke. Like you, I was struggling with the freestyle but was very comfortable with the breaststroke. Keep working on learning freestyle, it is a better stroke. Look at Total Immersion products for help. As I said above, as a breast stroker, be respectful of others, start at the back of your wave, etc. and swim to the outside.  






  • middleagetriguy Rookie 2 posts since
    Mar 21, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    4. Mar 21, 2008 7:05 AM (in response to physioK)
    Re: Breast stroke versus freestyle

    I am 43 years old and have been biking for about 6 years. Last year I decided to do my first sprint tri. By bike and run were pretty decent but I am not a swimmer, so like you I could not do the freestyle so I decided to try the backstroke. Big mistake. Even though it was very easy to breathe (which is where my main problem is in freestyle) I was all over the place. To compound the problem, it was my first open water swim, which I was ok with but the current and wind were very strong on the first leg to the first buoy. This was only a 400m swim but it took me 23 minutes. I finished. but my average heart rate on the swim leg was 182! (whoa, way took high!) I'm surpirsed I survived at that pace.  They pulled about 40 people out do to the strong current, not a great place to do my first swim. Anyhow this year I bought the Total Immersion swimming video and book and prior to trying this I could seriously on do about a 25m freestyle. I have been at it now for a little over 2 months and I can now do a 200m pretty decent for me. I put my wetsuit on the other day and completed a 400m in 12 minutes, which is slow but great for me. Do yourself a huge favor and try the Total Immersion system, IT WORKS.  I am not associated with Total Immersion in any way just a hack swimmer trying to learn but so far I love it. I'll be honest, the starting drills seem boring but if you follow the instructions it will work. the system is designed specifically for triathlon and my not make you the fastest swimmer but the idea here is to complete the swim, save your legs, and feel great coming out of the water conserving your energy for the bike and run and I believe it will help you like it is helping me. My goal this year is under 10 minutes for a 400m, again not fast but awesome for me. My bike average on a good course should be around 22-23 mph and  my run for a 5k is around a 7:30 pace (looking to get to 7:00 this year). My swim was killing me so I had to try something. Try it and I think you'll like it too. Good luck from one hack swimmer to another.

  • Debra A Rookie 1 posts since
    Dec 27, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    5. Mar 21, 2008 7:06 AM (in response to physioK)
    Re: Breast stroke versus freestyle


    I think it's a great idea to master freestyle swimming tecniques. You'll not only save valuable time in your race, you'll make other swimmers around you happy that you aren't kicking them.



    There are some excellent tips on freestyle swimming on you tube. Just type in "freestyle" in the seach area and you'll get tons of videos to choose from that will help you with getting the basics down, pracitcing, swim drills, etc. I have found it to be very useful. You can search for "triathlon swimming tips", the list goes on.  Have fun learning and the best of luck to you!



  • gdennis2356 Amateur 13 posts since
    Oct 7, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    7. Mar 21, 2008 9:30 AM (in response to physioK)
    Re: Breast stroke versus freestyle

    Go freestyle!! My girlfriend made it to the olimpic trials as a breast stroker... But when it comes to her swimming for a distance race such as in a TRI she does the Freestyle.... Also I love just freestyle.... But I have learned other strokes such as the breast, butterfly, and back. I must say when you get in the pool and can mix up different strokes for practice it helps keep it fun. I must admit I am not the best swimmer in the world but I have fun doing it and practicing other strokes.. ( I must admit though the butterfly sucks... Hard work out) Forget the DVD use youtube to find tips and go to a few classes at your local pool.  Or find your local swimm team and find a few older kids they would love to give you some pointers and work with you for a few bucks....

  • Linz614 Rookie 3 posts since
    Jul 31, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    8. Mar 23, 2008 11:57 AM (in response to physioK)
    Re: Breast stroke versus freestyle

    Besides the fact that you wont be kicking everyone around you, as a triathlete you will be doing yourself a huge favor by learning freestyle. Breaststroke is done by propelling yourself with your legs. Your pull is merely recovery. When done correctly, freestyle can be done using your legs only for balance, which you will be thankful for when you get to the run!!!!!!!!!!

  • ellenoire Amateur 13 posts since
    Mar 21, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    9. Mar 23, 2008 5:40 PM (in response to physioK)
    Re: Breast stroke versus freestyle


    I breaststroked and backstroked my way through 3 seasons of mini sprint and sprint distances staying way to the back. I felt slow, but safe. I got run over by a lot of people, but I learned how to get through that panic too. 



    Last summer after teaching myself the Total Immersion way of swimming I took more than a minute from my swim using freestyle for the first time, and passed people!



    I also re-trained myself to run using the ChiRunning technique ( TI and ChiRunnning work well together) and in that  same race I had a PB finish shaving 3 minutes off my best time.






    Good Luck !



  • Renee In Motion Amateur 7 posts since
    May 12, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    10. May 12, 2008 1:55 PM (in response to physioK)
    Re: Breast stroke versus freestyle

    I hope your freestyle training is coming along nicely.


    I want to reiterate what others have said about the price of swimming breaststroke - it is very leg muscle intensive. You'll want to preserve your leg strength for biking and running. Also, if there is any kind of chop, you're gonna work yourself silly trying to make any forward gains using breaststroke. You really want to make sure you are properly prepared for the swim leg before getting in the water for this event.



    Finally, I recommend that you find a Masters swim teach or coach to swim with. Even if you can afford on a couple of lessons with a coach, it is well worth the time and effort. You don't want to be imprinting bad form which you will only have to unlearn at some point, should you continue with triathlons. If nothing else, ask a friend to videotape you while you are swimming so you can see what your form looks like.



    Watch Alex Popov swimming video on youtube to see a great example of a proper swim form.




  • ActiveAnthemAz Amateur 21 posts since
    Apr 2, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    11. May 16, 2008 11:05 AM (in response to Renee In Motion)
    Re: Breast stroke versus freestyle


    I tried breast stroke around the buoys last night (1000m) in order to navigate around other competitors and let me tell you...It tired me out more than the previous 200m I had just swam. However, if your muscles are used to doing that stroke you will be better than this guy at that corner approach. But, if I were you, I would learn freestyle and use BS as your secondary stroke (used when you FS muscles get tired).



    Good Luck



  • Doc Tri Expert 46 posts since
    Apr 4, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    12. May 16, 2008 2:11 PM (in response to physioK)
    Re: Breast stroke versus freestyle


    Definitely learning freestyle is the way to go.  Unless you've been a competitive breast stroker, you're probably doing it wrong.  Many swimmers perform breast stroke kick-pull-kick-pull forming an "X" in the water and slowing themselves down.  It should be performed pull-kick-glide where you actually get into a streamline position before you pull.  This may help you until you learn freestyle.






    Read the Total Immersion book AND watch the video.  "Swim Power" is another decent video that teaches freestyle.  Use fins when you do the skating drills.  It will help speed up the learning process.  Get someone to tape you swimming.  Look at your form and compare it to the TI or Swim Power video.  You'll be able to see your major stroke flaws easily (crossing the center, fish tailing, not reaching far enough, not pulling far enough, lifting your head to breathe instead of rolling, looking up/forward instead of down...) and start to correct them.






    If swim lessons are too pricey, talk to a local triathlete that seems to be a very good swimmer or a masters swimmer.  While I can't guarntee they'll help you, many of the better triathletes and former swimmers can look at your form and make some helpful suggestions.  One thing about triathletes is that we love to talk about training.



    Doc Tri

    When it hurts, smile.

    If it doesn't hurt, you're not going hard enough.

  • Feltryder Rookie 1 posts since
    May 22, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    13. May 22, 2008 11:46 AM (in response to physioK)
    Re: Breast stroke versus freestyle


    As someone who has been competing in triathlons since 1989 I just want to commend you for getting out there and just doing it! It seems that the sport has become so commercial and the attitude of some competitors today is one of cockiness. It bothers me that the true spirit of fun and competition has been replaced by ridiculously priced equipment and downright rudeness on the course. What ever you decide to do just have fun and you'll always have my respect for simply competing.






  • trideborah Amateur 12 posts since
    Nov 16, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    14. May 31, 2008 9:10 PM (in response to gdennis2356)
    Re: Breast stroke versus freestyle

    Thank you for the "you tube" tip. I spend more time outside than online- I never thought to look for swim coaching there. I found an amazing amount of resources!!! So verry helpful!!!

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