Coach’s Intel: Jonathan Lau Shares a Specialized Breaststroke Set

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Jonathan Lau, assistant coach of Lindenwood University’s Men’s & Women’s Swimming & Diving program shares a set that was created specifically for one of the breaststrokers.

Here is the breaststroke set:

This set was designed for our school record holder in the 200 breast, Alysa Coleman, who recently finished her freshman year at Lindenwood.  Alysa went personal best times in the 100/200 breaststroke this year after being in a plateau for the last four years.  We worked extremely hard at reinforcing proper breaststroke technique with her while trying to enhance her training capacity and aerobic endurance.

A huge aspect of her stroke that needed to improve was her catch phase during breaststroke.  She tended to take an early breath that caused her catch to collapse early and prevent her hands from effectively moving to the outside corners of her stroke.  Alysa also had issues with the timing of her pull and kick.  This set was one that allowed her to work on both of these components.

3 Rounds

400 Free Swim @ 5:20

4x 50 Breast Swim + Parachute @ 1:10

200 Breast Pull, Fly Kick + Fins @ 2:45

1:00 Stationary Breast Swim on Elastic Cord

100 Breast Race from Blocks

50 EZ

I love using resistance training especially with breaststrokers, because it allows the swimmer to notice changes in their technique and timing more quickly than during plain swimming.

The 400 free in this set was meant to add a more aerobic component to the workout.  We use homemade parachutes made from several foam strips zip-tied together with a rope tether connected to a belt on the swimmer.

The 4x 50’s were meant to emphasize a strong wide catch and hold on the water.  I instructed Alysa to remember this catch sensation and try to build upon it with a 200 breast with a fly kick and fins.  This 200 will add another component to the stroke where the swimmer tries to add connection with the muscles in her core.

We followed this up with a swim on an elastic cord where Alysa swam in place for one minute continuing to work on her catch and holding water with her lower body (shins/feet).

Finally, Alysa raced a 100 breast trying to focus on not taking a lot of strokes, but making sure she was racing strong and efficiently.  Between rounds a 50 easy was used to recover from all of this work on resistance and racing.

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Can you explain what the purpose of fly kick with fins in breaststroke drills is, apart from encouraging bad and excessive undulation? Thank you.

PsychoDad – the theory is that 1 – it helps improve stroke turnover, and 2 – it reminds young swimmers of the need to get their hips into their breaststroke.

That’s the theory, anyway.


One of the under-thought concepts in breaststroke among age groups are high elbow pull (anchor your arms before squeezing elbows in and shooting straight) and hip pull as part of the arm pull. Strong arm pull allows you to pull your hips forward and set up for a strong kick. The danger is over-pulling your hips and having too straight upper body and ending in a “dead point.” But when practiced together and gotten right – it is beautiful and very efficient.


I love it how you continuously make remarks that enable you to keep the label PSYCHODAD.


I guess it would be a good questions if I put Coach as my name, huh, like you did? That makes you an expert, right? If my question is stupid, then you are everything but swimming coach. So many dumb people with Coach in their screen name here.


I agree with Braden. My breaststrokers do a lot of BR with flutter K and BR with dolphin K to emphasize hand speed in the stroke (not necessarily turnover). BR with dolphin K, in particular, is great for helping swimmers understand the importance of driving their hands forward by using their core, which leads to engaging the hips as Braden noted. The benefit I see in doing this with fins is that the fins can allow swimmers to over undulate as PSYCHODAD notes. A good coach, as I know Coach Lau to be, will rather use the fins to help the kids really feel the direction their hands dive forward (or down) as they stretch out. You almost want to… Read more »

Swimcoach12 – sorry, when I said “turnover” I meant the same thing as you – quick hands, etc. I’ve always used the two terms interchangably on breaststroke and my kids know what I mean, but probably should be more specific when posting here :-).


Nort Thornton does a TON of Brst pull w/dolphin K – using a monofin! I think Cal has produced one or two pretty fast breaststrokers.

About Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Olivier Poirier-Leroy has been involved in competitive swimming for most of his life. Starting off at the age of 6 he was thrown in the water at the local pool for swim lessons and since then has never wanted to get out. A nationally top ranked age grouper as both a …

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