Swimming breast stroke in a tri

Does it really matter?

1 to 20 of 58 messages
29/05/2014 at 22:12

Despite the fact you can swim whatever stroke you want in triathlon I have felt an unsaid pressure to do front crawl despite previous advice to do what you feel comfortable with. A few club members have said  that if I want to do breast stroke do so. One said a lot of people swim using this stroke and not to feel pressured into doing front crawl and one said the main aim is to enjoy it.

I can swim front crawl but persevered iwith it when going to club swim sessions so I ddnt feel out of place as that is the only stroke they seem to do. I know its more efficient but whats the point of doing something that makes you miserable and may eventually lead to giving up doing triathlon as a result.

So from now on I am going to swim breast stroke and work on doing it faster as I have to do what is best for me. I have an aquathlon in june to train for next however not sure whether to continue going to the club's tues evening swim session which I enjoy for the company but if I am not doing breast stroke it may be pointless. 

Magna Carter    pirate
29/05/2014 at 22:24

Go for it!

I did most of a half IM swim using breastroke a few years back.... still wasn't last, by some way! 

Edited: 29/05/2014 at 22:24
Crooky-IronKnee    pirate
29/05/2014 at 22:53

I did ironman uk last year swimming breast stroke in 1 hr 41 and was very pleased with the time

i have tried front crawl for this year but just can't get, it so again this time I will be doing breast stroke

I should really get lessons but I don't enjoy doing front crawl so why should I do what everybody else does ! 

Symes    pirate
30/05/2014 at 08:55

Swim round them like anyone else, look up, see breast stroker, give wide berth, carry on... 

I, probably like others have been hit by crawlers, breast strokers, even a back stroker (guess he got permission or told the kayaker), it's a mass participation swim race, it's going to happen.

TLN - Swim you own race, if you want to breast stoke then fine, helps people like me sight coz I can sit on your tail and know that you can see where you're going every stroke 

30/05/2014 at 08:59
It is slower than crawl, but it's your life and your happiness, so go for it. Nothing like being the captain of your own ship.
30/05/2014 at 09:07

"Despite the fact you can swim whatever stroke you want in triathlon" - not quite correct as backstroke is frowned upon in OW due to a) sighting issues and b) for anyone needing help the recommendation is to roll onto their back and put their arm in the air.  a backstroker would look like they need permanent help!

anyhoo - breaststroke is fine.  I'm a reasonable swimmer and got overtaken by a breaststroker at Windsor Tri one year - that dented my morale a bit! (he was bloody quick!)

30/05/2014 at 09:35

Yep – front crawl all the way for me and I like ribbing mates who decide to do any other stroke, namely breaststroke (but that it just my competitive childish humour).


I have been a relatively proficient swimmer from a young age and therefore have not had to struggle developing my front crawl technique.  I suggest getting breaststroke right is almost as technically difficult as front crawl (specifically the kick) but it is naturally a more comfortable position for many.


Fearful of getting their heads kicked in during a mass start in Challenge Laguna Phuket, two mates started swimming breaststroke from the start and ended up continuing through to exit of the swim.  They were only 5-10 minutes behind me (and I had a torrid time fighting in the main pack, doing front crawl).  More importantly, by adopting breaststroke, it no doubt made them less apprehensive and therefore the swim was more enjoyable experience.


I’d say keep working on your front crawl because it is a better, more efficient stroke to adopt in triathlon but only when you’re more comfortable with it than breaststroke.

MTri    pirate
30/05/2014 at 09:59
I would reiterate the point about taking care. My IM Wales was ruined by a breastroker. Started near the front and took a kick 5 minutes into the swim, took on salt water and threw up for the rest of the day
Symes    pirate
30/05/2014 at 10:03

But if you took a kick, then you were behind them and out of their line of sight, therefore surely it's up to you to avoid them?

Until there's a breast stroke lane set up at the start there's not much they can do to take any care to not kick people is there?

30/05/2014 at 10:23
I think I agree with MTri and Ironwolf. At a crowded mass participation OW start there are often too many swimmers in the water to avoid the breaststroke kick. I think that swimmers should be discouraged from doing this in this environment. If you need a rest it's not hard to do breaststroke arms and front crawl kick. I was also at IM Wales and there was significant bunching at the first turn buoy. It was very hard to swim at all, we were like a shoal of fish in a net and yet some were doing breast stroke in very close proximity to other swimmers. If there is clear water, you can swim around the kick, agreed, but there is not always clear water. Don't get me wrong, I'm not afraid of a bit of 'biff' but I think breaststroke in this situation is inconsiderate.

Also, breaststroke in a wetsuit can't be good for hips/knees where they are restricted by the rubber, surely?

In a pool, go for your life I guess.
30/05/2014 at 10:29
The kicks I have taken have been from swimmers alongside, to the stomach. Commonly when someone changes from crawl to breast.
MTri    pirate
30/05/2014 at 11:35
Exactly. If someone is swimming crawl, then arms and legs are generally in line with the body so no issues swimming close. When somebody changed from crawl to breastroke then they start taking up additional space that you were occupying, hence the kick, and a breastroke kick had quite a bit of force behind it.

I'm not blaming anyone, just frustrating to ruin a years training and IM entry due to a kick early in a race.

Generally, breastrokers would be considered weaker swimmers, and therefore should seed themselves accordingly in the start pen.
MTri    pirate
30/05/2014 at 11:36
Of course, a pool swim is a completely different situation.
30/05/2014 at 11:59

Short answer is no it doesn't matter - if you are comfortable swimming that way go hard!  As you were

31/05/2014 at 17:18

Thanks Crooky-BWFC knowing someone has done breaststroke in an Ironman makes me feel better not that I will be doing one any day soon! 

I have no intention of being competitive but if i was then I would preserve with improving my front crawl. However I was advised today by some one that breast stroke can cause problems with your knees, hips and ankles and that you can suffer on the bike as the muscles used for breast stroke are similar to those when perched on the bike - is is this true or are they  just biased towards front crawl? That said they did said if i wanted to,on tuesday nights, swim breaststroke in the ironman lane they would just swim around me - should I do this or go swimming at my local leisure centre when i want or go and just do front crawl.


While I appreciate what they are saying 

31/05/2014 at 17:29

to continue while I appreciate what they are saying I will continue to swim breast stroke - my lower back.knees and hips ache sometimes but its more to do with old age rather than doing breast stroke.

31/05/2014 at 17:51

Thanks kittenkat

For the first time in my life I am starting to do things because I want to, because it is the right thing for me and its great.  

I am going to, with my friend from work, start building the distance travelled by bike until I can do the standard distance at the same time I, on my own,will work on doing the standard swim  and run distance.

31/05/2014 at 18:09
kittenkat wrote (see)

If breastroke is a permitted stroke (which I think it is but haven't read the rule book for a while), you are well within your rights to do it in an IM if you want.

I personally wouldn't give a crap what other people think.


What if it was me that disappoved. Would you give a crap then?


31/05/2014 at 22:24

I was on the front row of a deep water start.  The horn went and I got the most forceful kick in the sternum, it took my breath away and ruined my swim for about 5 minutes.  CPR out of the blue!  I'd gone on the front row to avoid the breastrokers ironically!

Whilst it is allowed and perfectly legal, it is inconsiderate.

Crooky-IronKnee    pirate
31/05/2014 at 23:06
SwimsL1keaWalrus wrote (see)

I was on the front row of a deep water start.  The horn went and I got the most forceful kick in the sternum, it took my breath away and ruined my swim for about 5 minutes.  CPR out of the blue!  I'd gone on the front row to avoid the breastrokers ironically!

Whilst it is allowed and perfectly legal, it is inconsiderate.

Why is it inconsiderate swimming breaststroke ?

if that is what people can swim then why not,

i did it at ironman but I made sure that I started near the back and made sure I had plenty of space

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