For me there is no competition, Breaststroke is the most superior of all of the 4 strokes, when done correctly. Breaststroke is the most technical of all of the strokes, not only with the complexity of the arms and legs when done correctly, but also with the timing of the stroke and maximizing the length of the glide. Many people perceive Breaststroke as being a “slow stroke” or “recreational stroke” and they would be right, however when done correctly Breaststroke is much faster than most people believe.
Being one of the 2 symmetrical strokes (Butterfly being the other), children and adults can be “naturally” better than others as it uses different parts of the brain than the asymmetrical strokes, Front crawl and Back crawl. “Natural” Breastroker’s feet turn outwards, whereas some children and adults struggle with this and begin their learning with a Screw Kick, which is quite common. These children need a lot of work with their feet and coordination and most require a teacher to manipulate their feet when they are swimming, so they can learn the correct kick in a kinaesthetic way.
Breaststroke teaches children discipline through timing and also the FINA rules that govern the stroke too in competition. These rules put pressure on the swimmer to achieve the perfect dive, underwater “keyhole”, stroke, turn and finish. There are many ways you can get disqualified from a Breaststroke race, and in order to do well at the stroke, it isn’t just a case of moving your arms and legs faster, as timing plays a massive part in speed.
Breaststroke builds up the adductor muscles very well and also the muscles in the upper legs and back especially, and due to hitting these muscles it is good for toning up and losing weight. It is also a really good stroke for people that are not confident in putting their head in the water or exhaling out, as you are facing the direction of travel and can keep your face out of the water if you are only using the stroke for toning and weight loss. This is not the ideal body position but you will burn more calories this way as you are swimming against more water resistance due to your body position being too deep and will be unable to glide through the water through lack of streamlining, especially with the glide.
Breaststroke when swam with the head out of the water constantly is also a good recreation stroke for people who want to have a talk and chat to someone beside them who is also swimming the same stroke. This is the only variation of a stroke that you can do this with and allows swimming to be what is usually for adults a non-social sport, to a resistance activity people can choose to do with friends. However, Breaststroke is not advised for anyone with knee trouble or groin pain.
Whatever stroke you choose to do, just remember that water has over 1000 times more resistance than Air so whatever movement you choose to do will be more beneficial to you than land training, it has less impact on the joints and is a sport you can do all year round. Have fun and stay safe!