Beginner's Guide to Swimming Freestyle - Breathing

by Pool Builders on 06-09-2010 in Articles

Freestyle swimming, also known as the front crawl, is almost always the first stroke taught to children who are taking swim lessons. While there are many variations on how instructors will teach this stroke, there are always three main components; breathing, kicking, and pulling.

For me, breathing is the most crucial part of learning freestyle. Once a child learns how to breathe correctly in the water, the rest typically comes naturally. To introduce your child to breathing while in the water, some ideas that have worked well for me in the past include bringing drinking straws and ping-pong balls into the pool. Have your child begin by just blowing through the straw.

Once your child has done that, have your child hold one end of the straw in his mouth, and put the other end in the water and continue blowing. This will make bubbles that your child is able to see; thus making the connection between his bowing and the bubbles appearing. The ping-pong balls are used in a similar way. Have your child set one of the balls in the water in front of him and ask him to blow it to you, or to a wall, to a step, etc. This encourages your child to have his face near the water, while learning the basics of bubble bowing.

After your child has mastered the art of blowing bubbles, it is time to teach him how to come up for air. This step is usually fairly easy, as your child probably already knows how to take a deep breath. Simply tell him to blow as many bubbles as he can, and when he feels like he is going to explode, look up and take a deep breath. Then repeat.

Once he feels comfortable doing his "bubble-breathe-bubbles" across the pool, it is time to move onto side breathing. This is just a more advanced way of breathing, and will almost always make freestyle easier once it is perfected. To begin teaching this, have your child hold onto a low wall or a kickboard and do his bubbles. Only this time, when he is ready to come up for air, have him turn his head to the side, leaving his ear in the water, and take a deep breath. The have him put his face directly back in the water, without lifting his chin to the front. Practice this on the board back and fourth across the pool while you either pull the board for your child, or have him kick.

If you found this article helpful, keep an eye out for the second installment on "kicking".

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