Mythbuster: Breaststrokers Make the Best IMers


Ryan Lochte swims the breaststroke leg of the 400m IM at 2010 Nationals.BY KATIE ARNOLD//NATIONAL TEAM COACH FELLOW

If you are anything like me, your dreams of IM glory were crushed early in your swimming career because someone told you that breaststrokers make the best IMers (and like me, you were anything but a breaststroker). However, after doing some research on the subject, I am happy to report that you do not have to be a breaststroker to be an elite IMer.


During a moment of “what could have been” nostalgia, I looked at IM medalists from the past two Olympics. Out of the 13 unique medalists (8 female, 5 male), only one swimmer was ranked in the top-25 of a breaststroke event in the year they won their IM medal. However, of those same 13 swimmers, 2 were top-25 in a butterfly event, 4 were top-25 in a backstroke event, and 2 were top-25 in both butterfly and backstroke. The remaining 4 medalists were not ranked in the top-25 for any stroke event in that year.


While this should give hope to all you “non-breaststrokers” out there, it certainly does not mean you should stop working to improve your breaststroke. Because breaststroke is the slowest of the four strokes, IMers spend more time on that leg of the race than any other. To be an elite IMer, you need a solid foundation with good fundamentals in all four strokes.

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