Breathing Tips and Techniques for Swimmers

Let’s take a deep breath. Inhale for 3 seconds, hold for 2 seconds, and exhale for 3 seconds. It is easy to gain control of your breath while doing normal activities, but swimming adds a completely different element to breathing: water. Learning to breathe for lap swimming can be difficult to learn but with a little practice and technique, breathing while swimming will come as easy as breathing on land.

The Race Club wants to help you improve your swim speed and technique, so check out these breathing tips that you can use for your next swim:

Head out of the water – The most common mistake among swimmers is taking your whole head out of the water and turning your head to take a deep breath. This creates an incredible amount of drag created while your head is out of the water and your hips and feet naturally gravitate towards the bottom. The key to breathing is keeping your head down and keeping your whole body at the same level.

The two-three breathing technique – Some swimmers will breathe every third stroke, but this can result in not enough oxygen and tiring yourself out more quickly. Our founder, Gary Hall Sr., recommends using the two-three pattern breathing technique as follows: breathe to the left, breathe to the right, hold the breath for a stroke, and continue the pattern to the right. Maintaining a natural, rhythmic pattern to your breathing while swimming can increase your oxygen intake by 50% more than the three-stroke pattern.

Type of race – During short and more intense swim workouts or races (50-meter or sprint), it might be better to hold your breath or settle for one to two breaths. With too short of a time to build up lactic acid, it is not efficient to focus on the breath.

Take a second to practice your breathing while swimming to help increase your speed and efficiency in the water. Get the latest updates from The Race Club on our swim training resources, including our exclusive swim workout videos and articles. Learn more about our free Lane 1 subscription for swimmers of all ages and skill levels.

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