Learning the proper breathing techniques for swimming is an essential part of the sport. Breathing properly as you swim is vital to provide oxygen to your muscles so you can avoid fatigue and keep swimming longer. Here are a few tips to help you breathe correctly as you swim.

  • Focus on Exhalation: When you hold your breath, your body tenses, and your brain thinks you need to breath. A relaxed swimmer is a better and faster swimmer. Exhaling slowly as you swim means you will only have to inhale when your head is above water, which will help maintain your speed. You can exhale using your mouth or your nose, but many find breathing out into water uncomfortable at first. To get accustomed to exhaling under water, you can stand in the pool, put your face in the water, and exhale. You can practice at home by using a large bowl or a deep sink.
  • Learn Bilaterally Breathing: Bilateral breathing is breathing on both sides as you swim. Bilateral breathing develops your muscles evenly and allows your body to rotate equally on both sides. This technique helps swimmers keep their head low, which makes a swimmer faster and efficient in the water. To develop a bilateral breathing pattern, count your strokes and breathe every third stroke.
  • Don’t Lift Your Head: Lifting your head out of the water to breathe will push your lower body down into the water and create drag. Lifting your head will also put stress on your neck because your body will not be aligned correctly. You should roll your body at the same time as your arm is pulled underwater; allowing your body to rotate will lift your head for you. Inhale through your mouth when your head is in position.
  • Find the Pocket: As you swim, your body creates a “bow wave.” A trough just below the surface is created because the water level drops along the sides of your face because of the wave’s shape. If you can find this pocket, then you can “breathe into the pocket.” To successfully breathe using the pocket, do not move your head a lot. You should rotate your head so one eye is above water and the other is below the water.
  • Have Good Body Position: To avoid injuries and to maintain speed, your head should be in line with your spine. During the breaststroke, you should breathe when your arms propel your upper body up and out of the water. During the butterfly, you should breathe when your arms push past your hips and start to come up out of the water. During freestyle, you should turn your head to the side when you lift your arm out of the water so you can use the trough to breathe. During the backstroke, you should time your breathing with your strokes so you can avoid taking in water.

When you learn how to swim, you should practice exhaling into water, keeping your body in alignment, and bilateral breathing. With some of these breathing techniques for swimming, you will battle against the fatigue that sets in from holding your breath for extended periods of time and have a more enjoyable time swimming.