Breaststroke: Command Your Tempo



The men’s 100m breaststroke got real fast in 2012. In history, 19 different textile swimmers have been under one-minute – 16 of those were in 2012. No other year in history had more than six people go under.

Number of Sub-Minute 100 Breaststrokers.


Of the 16 swimmers in 2012, only 3 were American. Can we learn anything from comparing the world’s best 100m breaststrokers and America’s best? Let’s take a look at nine of the best swims from 2011-2012, and the top eight swims at U.S. Olympic Team Trials (excluding Brendan Hansen, who was in the World best group). 


Top 9 100 Breaststroke, 2011-2012. 

 Top 8 100 Breast at 2012Trials.


The race numbers confirmed what I was thinking when watching the Olympics – the world’s best hit faster speeds by having better command of their tempo. They have faster tempos overall, while their tempo also increases as the race progresses. Tempos are faster on the second 50 than the first 50. And the tempos get faster during the second 50 too.


Do not spin your arms to hit faster tempos. Spinning your arms is not the way to accomplish this and will not result in positive gains.


Command your tempos by having a quick and smooth transition to the arm recovery / body drive phase of the stroke, and by emphasizing that aspect. This can be achieved by a combination of a number of things:

  • The shape of the pull is round.
  • Keep the pull in front of the body – the hands stay in front of the chest and don’t pull too far back.
  • The elbows stay out to the side and don’t squeeze together.
  • Press forward with the chest/body while the arms shoot forward.

All of that allows a swimmer to shoot the hands and upper body forward quicker and more effectively…the best way to change gears and hit faster tempo.

 For more details about breaststroke pull, check out this other article I wrote.

Mens 100 Breast Stat Comparison.

ArenaBMWMarriottMyrtha PoolsOmegaPhillips 66SpeedoTYR