How to breathe in water – by Jack Bridge
One of the trickiest things about swimming is getting your breathing right. It feels unnatural, and can be very difficult. We’re land based mammals, after all! But as you know, oxygen is crucial for good performance, so it’s worth spending some time to master your breathing technique. The more relaxed you can be, the better your performance.
It’s important to keep your face in the water when swimming in order to keep your body streamlined and make your technique smoother. The simple premise behind swimming breathing is to breathe in when you raise your head out of the water, and exhale into it. It’s best to inhale through your mouth and exhale through your nose and mouth. If you’re blowing bubbles when you breathe out, you’re doing it right!
Get into a rhythm, with each exhalation and inhalation lasting the same amount of time. This makes it easier to regulate your breath and helps ensure that you are getting a continuous supply of oxygen. Don’t hold your breath too long, as this will drain your energy and result in shallow breathing and gasping. It can also make your body tense, which will slow you down and make you tired.
When swimming front crawl, turn your head underneath your arm as it comes out of the water, look diagonally behind you, and take a deep breath. As a general rule, you should inhale every third stroke alternating between turning your head left and right, but really it’s best to just choose what works for you. For breaststroke, you can raise your head up as you bring both arms back, and take a deep breath every two to three strokes. The advantage of backstroke is that you don’t have to worry about any of this, although it’s still important to retain a regular rhythm to improve efficiency and buoyancy.
Once you’ve got into a good routine and technique, you’ll find yourself breathing much more naturally in the water, which will improve your overall performance, and make it easier to swim further and faster. Maybe you will be able to do a few more lengths and add them to your total!