Breaststroke is one of the oldest swimming styles. However, for a long period, it was not considered a sport. For humans in ancient times, breaststroke is considered the simplest form of swimming to prevent drowning. So, what is breaststroke? And what is its history? Let’s find out together!
The first descriptions of breaststroke are found in cave paintings in southwestern Egypt:
The “Cave of the Swimmers” was discovered in 1933 on the Gilf-el-Kebir plateau. In it, there are many pictures of people swimming frog. Good evidence that they are made about 10,000 to 5,500 years ago. At that time Africa was still in a wet period with lush vegetation. Similar paintings can be found in Babylonian reliefs and Assyrian murals. Scientists question that Stone Age humans imitated frog’s leg movements while swimming.
In 1538, the German linguist Nicolas Wynman wrote a detailed study on swimming. His book Colymbetes does not focus on athletic swimming or competition, but instead on the basics of drowning prevention.
More than 150 years later, in 1696 French naturalist and writer Melchisédech Thévenot published a book called “The Art of Swimming”. For the first time he described frog swimming very similar to today’s technique. Therefore, he can be considered as one of the pioneers of modern swimming.
Around 1800, the very first swimming competitions in Europe had grown in popularity. Most athletes at that time used the frog swimming technique. But there are also some try paddle swims in tummy crawl.
In 1875, Captain Matthew Webb became the first person to swim across the English Canal. In that daring experience, he performed breaststroke for 21 hours 45 minutes for a distance of 34.21 km.
At the 1904 Summer Olympics in St. Petersburg Louis, breaststroke was the first approved swim style. In addition, backstroke and freestyle swimming are also accepted as other types of swimming in competition.
In the 60s, FINA had additional changes: hand movements are only allowed in the range from the hips up, except for the first swim after starting or spinning. By 1987, the head had to rise continuously in each swimming span. Later, more parts must also emerge. This results in a breaststroke pattern where the swimmers pull their arms closer to the body, then put their arm under the chin and throws the arm on the water until fully stretched.
A controversy erupted in the Athens Olympics after Japan’s Kosuke Kitajima beat the latter record-holder Brendan Hansen in the 100m breaststroke event. The recorded video shows Kitajima performing the kick-kick several times after starting and spinning. However, during the race, the referee did not detect it so the result was not adjusted.
However, in September 2005, FINA changed again, allowing one dolphin kick after starting or spinning off.
Among the four competitive swimming styles, including butterfly swimming, backstroke, breaststroke, stride, breaststroke have the slowest speed. The reason is that the variation in speed between phases is huge. Although in breaststroke, the pull and pedal phase creates a strong thrust, but the resting phase of the foot makes the overall thrust almost completely eliminated. You can imagine in breaststroke, there will be a cycle of generating strong thrust and then resting completely, and then starting again, not continuously like in the other 3 types.
Although it is the choice to start with for many general swimmers, breaststroke is actually the most technically difficult type if you want to train to the top. That lies in the timing accuracy when coordinating the parts together. The technique of breaststroke is also completely different from the other 3 types, which have many similarities.
The greatest frog swimmers in history such as Rebeca Soni, Kosuke Kitajima, Mike Barrowman, Victor Davis and now Adam Peaty of England. Peaty specializes in short distance frog swimming (50-100m), characterized by powerful swimming with high frequency, the head and body protrusion very high to accelerate. You can refer to the analysis of the terrible record held by Peaty. Similar to the current female side Lyly King of the US team.
What do you think about frog swimming is considered by some to be the most difficult and cannot swim far? What swimming style are you currently swimming? Let us know!