Proper Breathing Techniques For Swimming Strokes

by Pool Builders on 12-07-2010 in Articles

Recently, I took up an assignment on stroke correction. It came as a surprise to me as my new student has accomplished the National Survival Swimming Award before. In my opinion, he has achieved certain proficiency in his swimming stroke. However, he always encountered problem on swimming long distance thus his parents wanted to improve on his swimming techniques. During the first lesson, I ask him to swim a short distance to demonstrate his swimming strokes. From the swimming, I discovered the roots cause of his stroking issue. His breathing technique is incorrect which has caused him to utilize majority of his energy on catching his breath rather than executing the swimming strokes correctly. Also, when I am coaching in the public pool, I always see numerous swimmers performing the incorrect breathing technique. Hence, I believe the technique to breathe proper is the main concern for most of the swimmers.

Here are some of the observations I made at the swimming pool and some of the methods which you can improve on. Breaststroke and front crawl are the common swimming styles that are used at the swimming pool. Thus, I will touch on these two strokes.


I always see swimmers breathing in and out using their mouth. The correct technique is to use the mouth to inhale when your face is out of the water and use the nose to exhale inside the water. Another common mistake I always spot is that the swimmers tend to exhale swiftly inside the water and inhale a lot when their face got out of the water. The correct timing to breathe is when you start to pull both of the hands towards the body. At this instance, sufficient time has been given to breathe unless the swimmers wait for a clear signal for the mouth to be clear of the water before breathing in. This incorrect technique will cause you to breathe faster as majority of the breathing time have been allocated for the clear signal. Thus, you will feel an urge of breathing again when you are inside the water. Thus, repetitive action to inhale and exhale will cause you to lose the concentration of your swimming stroke. Swimmers should also regulate their breathing volume to ensure both inhale and exhale of air actions are of equal volume.

Front Crawl (Freestyle)

Front crawl is probably the easiest and yet hardest technique to master. The common mistake I observed is students tend to lift their head too high to breathe. This move will cause the student lower part of the body to drop. This action will affect their streamline position. In order to counter the dropping of lower body, students will have to kick harder to compensate their body back into streamline position. The correct breathing technique for front crawl is to rest your head onto your shoulders to ensure the head does not lift up high to disrupt the streamline position. One of the indicators is to get one side of the goggles close to the water surface. Also, it will largely depend on the swimmers on their breathing interval. I have seen swimmers breathing in either on their first two strokes or others number of strokes. There is no guideline towards it. Most importantly, the swimmers must feel comfortable. I will recommend completing four strokes before starting to breathe.

A proper breathing technique will give you an edge among your peers in swimming as it will ensure that you will be able to execute your swimming strokes efficiently.

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