Chlorine Chronicle (Archive)NMSC Mar/97 Newsletter
(contributed by Cathy Merritt)
. Roque Santos, "Catch the "Wave"" Part I, SWIM Magazine, Nov./Dec. _96, pp. 37-39.
. Roque Santos, "Catch the "Wave"" Part II, SWIM Magazine, Jan./Feb. _97, pp. 37-38.
. John Moffet, "The Breaststroke Turn", found on http://www.swiminfo.com/Training/Fitness/breast1.html
. Ed Nessel, "Fin Nite Workout", SWIM Magazine, Jan./Feb. _97, inserted after page 36.
More on the "Wave" Breaststroke
Last issue I excerpted some kicking drills from the second of two articles on learning the "wave breaststroke". I suspect that, in order to do this stroke (I haven't tried it yet), you have to learn the whole thing; just changing the kick or the pull won_t work when combined with the old-fashioned breaststroke. So I have borrowed Ann B.'s copy of the previous SWIM magazine issue which contains the first of the articles. In it are described the differences between the conventional "flat style" breaststroke (which is what most of us do) and the "wave" breaststroke as well as some drills for learning the arm action.
Contrary to what most people believe, learning the wave is not that difficult - even for the older swimmer. All you need to do is change the angle at which the hands are pitched, and when to bring the head up and the hips forward. If you make these changes, you can convert an old-fashioned flat breaststroke into a more efficient wave....
In the flat stroke, the emphasis of the arm pull (meaning the point during an arm cycle when the hands are moving fastest and with the most power) occurs at the beginning of the arm pull - during the outsweep. In the wave stroke, the timing is different. The emphasis of the arm pull occurs later - during the insweep - and the hands accelerate from slow to fast.
In both styles, the angle of pitch of the hands changes the timing of when the head rises. In the flat style, the head rises and falls earlier than in the wave style - during the outsweep. In the wave stroke, the head does not start to rise until the insweep.
The geometry of the pull is also different in the two styles. In the flat style the pull tends to be straighter: first a straight-line outsweep, then in toward the breast. This causes the traditional puff of water when the breath is taken. In the wave style, the hands are angled to move in a more circular motion, and they only pause during the streamlined position.
...In the flat style, the hands are pitched at 45 degrees as they move out and forward from the streamlined position. The angle of the hands causes the head to begin to rise and the hips to fall. In the wave style, the hands are held straight in front. As the hands move out and forward, the head remains down, which causes the body to move forward while the hips remain high.
...In the flat style, the elbows are held well under the water surface. This causes a lot of resistance when the arms and hands move forward. In the wave style, the swimmer's elbows are on the surface of the water at all times.
...In the wave breaststroke, the hips move forward on the insweep of the circular stroke. Some describe the motion by saying that the hands anchor themselves on the insweep while the hips move forward like an inchworm. In the flat style, the hips do not move forward and the back does not arch as in the wave style. By moving the hips forward and arching the back, the head will automatically move out of the water so the swimmer can breathe. Thus, the swimmer does not have to pick the head up to breathe.
In the flat style, the swimmer is much lower during the prayer position (when the hands are together under the chin on the arm recovery). The body and head are moving down (because the head was raised earlier). The arms and feet are also moving forward. All of these things contribute to a slower (and harder) breaststroke.
...[In the wave style] the swimmer's hips move forward during the insweep of the circular stroke, which allows him to reach the height of the stroke at the prayer position. From this position the body can ride the wave forward even though the feet and then the arms are moving forward, which causes resistance. But the wave style uses this height and hand speed to get through the prayer position very quickly. 
Here is the sequence of movements. The hand and feet movement starts and stops in the streamlined position. The body is level with the water. The hands move in a circular motion from slow to fast keeping the elbows in front of the shoulders. When the hips move forward, the hands start the in-sweep of the circular stroke, the head goes up, and the feet recover straight to the butt. As the breaststroke quickly moves through the flat-style prayer position, the breaststroker is at the height of the stroke, then the shoulders raise up (or shrug). The kick begins as the head goes forward and down. The elbows remain close to the surface of the water at all times. The palms face down as the arms quickly move forward with the elbows level with the hands. The soles of the feet clap together. The body lays level on the water. The next stroke starts in the streamline position. The head will stay level with the body until the hips move forward on the in-sweep of the circular stroke.
Got it? No? You can read the drills for the arm action in the article  (I will put a photocopy in the folder). There are some pictures but what would be really useful is a diagram of where your arms, legs, body, head are supposed to be at each stage throughout the stroke. Or a movie of someone doing it right (maybe it was on one of the videos that I missed?). Say, whoever learns this first can teach the rest of us.
Tip of the Day The Breaststroke turn. The first rule to remember for the breaststroke turn is to always kick into the wall. Often, breaststrokers are lazy and pull into the wall (who me?). This causes two problems: First, it_s impossible to continue the momentum with just a pull, and second, pulling alone causes the hips to sink, making it difficult to begin the turn. 
Answer to last issue's quiz (What is a "lightning"?)
"Lightning" is a term that stands for a 150, followed quickly with a 100, then followed more quickly with a 50. The oxygen deprivation, or pain, makes one feel as if he/she has been "struck by lightning." The "lightning" can be done in many ways to add variety. Swim an easy 100 yards for recovery. The rest of this gives a workout with a lot of "lightnings". Don_t tell our coaches!
Quiz What is the most popular recreational activity of members of the American Association for Nude Recreation?