It's about the glide
I have started having swimming lessons for the first time since school (over 25 years if you are wondering). A weird and wonderful experience as it involves Monday nights, Hampton lido (always heated to 80 degrees) and a chap called Adam who I have only ever seen clad in the swimming equivalent of a waterproof dressing-gown onesie dress (openwater swimmers chuck them on after a swim to get warm and change under).
Whilst the main focus is front crawl we did a bit of work on my breastroke technique recently and I have been practicing it whilst working from Paris this week. The most recent opportunity was at the Piscine Josephine Baker which is, in essence, a large floating barge permantly moored to the banks of the Seine. Sadly it lacks the flamboyance of its namesake but nonetheless it had lanes and was open.
The thing I am learning about breastroke is that I had been missing out one key part - the glide. For open water swimmers who want most distance for least effort this part of the stroke is pretty damn important. Sure your legs need to kick hard, yup your arms need to pull effectively but once your arms and legs are all straight and not moving you have the glide which you need too hold for a good 3-4 seconds to make the forward progress you've just created.
It feels weird and very very slow. However because Kingston pool has Swimtag I have the data that proves otherwise. It has knocked a good 10-20 seconds off my 100m average time ... amazed I am!