Breaststroke Efficiency and the Foil Monofin

Courtesy of FINIS, a SwimSwam partner.

Breaststroke is arguably the most difficult stroke to coach, whether your swimmers are new to the sport or have more experience. Having said that, a well executed breaststroke is a thing of beauty and is well worth the time spent perfecting it.

A common issue that swim coaches face takes place just prior to the breaststoke recovery, or the point when the arms move forward into your line. It is here where many swimmers become “stuck” in place with their hands close together, elbows low, and the body in an obtrusive position. Whether or not they fully pause in this position, it seems as if the swimmer hitches at this point in the stroke. There are a few ways to fix this common technical flaw, although it does take time to make a permanent change.

Using the Foil Monofin to create an exaggerated speed increase towards the front of the stroke is an excellent way to get your swimmer started down the right path. Simply instruct your group to swim breaststroke arms with a powerful Foil dolphin movement. At the point of recovery, shoot forwards as quickly as possible. It may help to have younger swimmers mock the tension release of a rubber band as their bodies are trained to lunge forward through the water.

Try using the Foil Monofin in the following set:


3 x 25 Breaststroke arms w/ Foilcycle: 1 pull + 3 kicks, 1 pull + 2 kicks, 1 pull + 1 kick, repeat

1 x 25 Breastroke arms w Foil;  fastest possible stroke rate (1 pull + 1 kick)

Follow up with a short breastroke set, attempting to simulate a fast recovery towards their forward line.

Leave a Reply

1 Comment threads
1 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
2 Comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Q Kelly

I just try to get the swimmers to start getting their breath sooner. Just after the hands rotate down and the pull backwards begins, is when they should come up for breath. Many swimmers wait too late, so they have that pause so they can take in the breath before they move their hands forward and return their head into the water.

Correct! It is a common problem, particularly with young swimmers in high volume programs. This is just one solution that we have found works extremely well.

About Gold Medal Mel Stewart

Gold Medal Mel Stewart

MEL STEWART Jr., aka Gold Medal Mel, won three Olympic medals at the 1992 Olympic Games. Mel's best event was the 200 butterfly. He is a former World, American, and NCAA Record holder in the 200 butterfly. As a writer/producer and sports columnist, Mel has contributed to Yahoo Sports, Universal Sports, …

Read More »