I took my 5th swim lesson today. I had previously recapped each week individually (lesson #1, lesson #2, lesson #3), but last we started on breaststroke and all I would have been able to say was it's really hard. This week I feel like a have a better handle on it.
Before my first triathlon, my friend Rebecca taught me the basics of the breaststroke and said it was a good recovery stroke. You bring your head out of the water to breathe every stroke which is helpful when you're tired. I thought I understood what she said and could manage a decent breaststroke. In reflection, it was probably more of a breaststroke/doggy paddle hybrid.
Last week, Mary (the instructor) taught me the kick first. She described it as a frog kick. You pull your legs up towards your stomach, kick them up and out to the side, and bring them together with your legs straight. I practiced for most of lesson #4 and still didn't quite get it. I was kicking down and out rather then up and out.
This week, Mary explained and demonstrated the kick again. I practiced on the wall, then practiced with a kick-board. After I felt comfortable and Mary thought my kick looked good, I added arms. The stroke movement starts with your hands together in front of your chest. You push you arms straight out then sweep them to the sides before bringing the hands back together in front of your chest.
Another tricky part of breast stroke is that your arms should go out as your legs come together. The timing is very difficult to get down, but it makes you faster because either your arms or legs take turns moving you forward. I spent the last 15 minutes of class practicing and had it right maybe half of the time. I will continue to practice it, but I don't anticipate using it during a triathlon.