Chapter Thirteen~The Back Crawl
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The Inverted Breast-Stroke

The Inverted Breast-Stroke is a different kind of back stroke. It's helpful to learn this stroke before progressing to the regular Breast-Stroke which is somewhat confusing with it's many coordinated moves.

The Inverted Breast-Stroke is faster than the Elementary Backstroke but slower than the Back Crawl (Backstroke.) It's mainly used as a lap swim exercise because it utilizes different muscle groups and improves coordination. The kick is the same as the Elementary Backstroke's kick, and works the inner side of thighs and hip rotator muscles. Also, the triceps on the under side of upper arms along with the shoulder muscles (trapezius) get a workout.

The Inverted Breast-Stroke is a personal favorite of mine. The stroke is deceiving because the movements are slow and give the appearance of one taking it easy but it's actually clipping right along. It's fun to use this stroke when average (or less) lap swimmers are swimming the Front Crawl in adjacent lanes. Once the Inverted Breast-Stroke is perfected it's often possible to out distance some lap swimmers who can't understand why their strength has suddenly become so weak that they can't keep up with someone swimming what they perceive as a "slow Elementary Backstroke."



Refer to illustration below these progressions.

1--Begin with a good tuck like you would for the Elementary Backstroke.

2--Gradually release pool side keeping arms next to sides while stretching body out atop water.

3--A gentle push with feet will put you into a nice glide.

4--While gliding, slowly bring arms up along sides of body as high as possible toward armpits.

5--The Elementary Backstroke kick begins as hands move upward. Be sure BACK of head stays down in water.

6--Continue moving arms upward as full extent of the kick forms a wide circle. Knees are pointing inward.

7--Shoot arms up and straighten them together above head, touching palms.

6--As palms touch, bring legs together with a sudden circular clap.

7--Point toes and keep legs together for glide position.

8--Legs remain straight as arms move out from body (elbows straight) and come down hard to sides.

9--Hold above position and GLIDE for about 3 seconds.

10-With arms at sides, gradually slide hands up sides of body.

11-Repeat from # 4 and continue through sequences # 4 through # 9 to destination.

Study and Follow Steps in Illustration:


1~-Not Making Any Headway. Usually, this occurs when the kick is executed at the wrong time. As hands slide up sides of body, knees should be bending and lower legs moving out to form a circle exactly like the kick for the Elementary Backstroke.

a--Another cause of slow or no forward movement may be due to a "floating kick." That is, a kick that moves correctly but is not definite, especially when legs come together. It's important to close the circle hard and fast. This must occur at the instant hands clap together above the head. It may help if you imagine your hands and feet being attached to each other by a string. As hands move upward they pull your feet up causing knees to bend inward. Lower legs then move apart forming a widening circle as arms move above the head.

b--Eliminating the glide will also cause this problem as synchronization between arm stroke and kick will be lost.

c--Finally, as you know by now, if the head lifts up or if you should bend forward at the waist while in ANY back float position, the legs will drag, preventing any forward momentum.

2--Moving Out of Synch Admittedly, this stroke is a test of coordination. Arms are doing one thing while the legs are doing another. However, once learned it's a beautiful stroke to watch. After studying the illustration above, a good cadence to remember as you execute the motions is: "GLIDE; SLIDE; UP; CLAP--KICK; ARMS DOWN; GLIDE; SLIDE; UP; CLAP--KICK; ARMS DOWN...etc." Try practicing in front of a mirror (kick with only one leg.) Picture the sequence as if you were on your back in the water. Eventually, it will become automatic. To get an idea of what it looks like study this animation:

Unfortunately, I goofed and the above animation does not show legs and hands coming together at once. Please ignore this slight discrepancy.


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Ch.15~The Breaststroke
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