The breaststroke is a swimming style in which the swimmer is on his or her chest and the torso does not rotate. It is the most popular recreational style due to its stability and the ability to keep the head out of the water a large portion of the time. In most swimming classes, beginners learn either the breaststroke or the front crawl first. Since the breaststroke can be swum with the eyes almost always above water, it is important in lifesaving, as it allows the rescuer to approach the victim without losing sight of them. However, in competitive swimming, the breaststroke is regarded as one of the most difficult strokes, requiring comparable endurance and leg strength to other strokes. Some people refer to breaststroke as the "frog" stroke, for your body moves like a frog swimming in the water. The stroke itself is the slowest of any competitive strokes and thought to be the oldest of all swimming strokes.
The history of breaststroke goes back to the Stone Age, as for example pictures in the Cave of Swimmers near Wadi Sora in the southwestern part of Egypt near Libya. The leg action of the breaststroke may have originated by imitating the swimming action of frogs. Depictions of a variant of breaststroke are found in Babylonian bas-reliefs and Assyrian wall drawings. In 1538 Nicolas Wynman, a German professor of languages and poetry, wrote the first swimming book, Colymbetes. His goal was not to promote exercise, but rather to reduce the dangers of drowning. Nevertheless, the book contained a good, methodical approach to learning breaststroke. In 1696, the French author and poet Melchisédech Thévenot wrote The Art of Swimming, describing a breaststroke very similar to the modern breaststroke. The book (Benjamin Franklin became one of its readers) popularized this technique. In the pre-Olympic era, competitive swimming in Europe started around 1800, mostly using breaststroke. A watershed event was a swimming competition in 1844 in...
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