Change to Breaststroke Rule SW 7.4

Changes made by FINA to Breaststroke Rules during September are expected to immediately improve breaststroke times and present a new challenge for those swimmers for which Breaststroke is their stroke of choice.

The rule that has been changed by FINA is rule SW 7.4 which is reproduced below. Basically, competitors are now allowed to perform a single downward dolphin kick after the start and each turn.

SW 7.4 During each complete cycle, some part of the swimmer's head shall break the surface of the water. After the start and after each turn, the swimmer may take one arm stroke completely back to the legs. The head must break the surface of the water before the hands turn inward at the widest part of the second stroke. A single downward dolphin kick followed by a breaststroke kick is permitted while wholly submerged. Following which, all movements of the legs shall be simultaneous and in the same horizontal plane without alternating movement.
(our emphasis)

Below is the official interpretation of the rule:

“That during, or at the end of the arm pull-down of the first stroke after the start and after each turn, a single downward butterfly kick is allowed, but not required, followed by a breaststroke kick. During the pull-down, if a downward butterfly kick is taken, it must be followed by a breaststroke kick. It is not permissible to take only a downward butterfly kick without then taking a normal breaststroke kick. The downward butterfly kick is not permissible prior to the arm pull-down.”

That's all very well and good if you are a Referee, but as a swimmer it doesn't help much. Where does the downward dolphin kick actually fit into the start or turn?

Below is a breakdown of each of the actions taken after a start or turn showing where and when you can perform the single downward dolphin kick.
Step 1
The first step is to streamline off the wall from the start or turn as usual.
Step 2
A powerful underwater pull is taken. It is during this pull where the downward dolphin kick can be taken.
Alternatively the downward dolphin kick can be taken at the completion of the pull at the end of Step 3 below.
Step 3
The underwater pull is completed with the hands by the side of the thighs.
If the downward dolphin kick was not taken during the pull in the previous step it can be taken here.
Note: Only one downward dolphin kick is allowed.
Step 4
The hands and arms recover under the water, staying close to the body to minimise resistance.
Step 5
A breaststroke kick is taken as the arms extend forward past the head.
Step 6
The head then breaks the surface as the hands sweep out at the start of the next stroke.

Leisel Jones performed a single downward dolphin kick after the start of the 100m Breaststroke Final at the 2005 Telstra FINA World Cup at the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre on November 22nd. You can watch a video of the start at the end of this article.

So now you know how and when to perform the dolphin kick, it's time to hit the water and practice it.

  Leisel Jones - Breaststroke Start     To play:
      1. Click on the link below.
      2. Windows Media Player will open and start playing the video
        Breaststroke Pullout
    Windows Media Audio/Video File
    Length: 18 sec

Swimming Australia
ASCTA Swimming in Australia - September/October 2005

See Also
  • Swimming Rule Changes

  • FINA Swimming Rules 2005 - 2009 - SW 7 Breaststroke

  • eSwimmer - Breaststroke Records Under Threat
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