Breathing while freestyle swimming takes a fluidity of motion and an understanding that your breathing should be in tandem with your other movements. In freestyle swimming, breathing may be one of the most important parts of your overall technique.
When practicing freestyle, use these tips to anchor your breathing technique for optimal performance, speed, and endurance.
Tip 1: Be mindful of head position and over-rolling.
When taking a breath, notice your degree of head and body rotation. Most swimmers who over-rotate their heads, necks, or bodies while in freestyle end up breathing late and they actually throw the rest of their motion out of balance.
A good rule to keep in mind is that when breathing, you should take your breath with one goggle, one ear, and one cheek still present in the water. You may worry that only half of your mouth will be available for breathing, but it’s actually more than it seems and you’ll still be able to get enough air.
Tip 2: Practice multiple breathing techniques.
Freestyle swimmers need to be prepared for a variety of swimming conditions. Bilateral breathing, or breathing from both sides while in freestyle, can be a good foundational skill for any swimmer. However, when speed counts, learning to breathe from one side can be incredibly useful.
Freestyle swimmers should be mindful of spending as much time on their sides as possible, as this creates a much more streamlined body than lying flat. Breathing from one side on every stroke or alternating breathing sides on every stroke (e.g. left side to one end of the pool, right side on the return) ensures you’re drawing in more air but that you’re also spending more time in that side position, which helps with speed.
Tip 3: Don’t hold your breath too much.
Constant exhalation is key, even though instinct is driving you toward inhaling as much as possible. Most swimmers that hold their breath too long in freestyle experience difficulty as there’s not enough exhalation and that builds up carbon dioxide in the body. This further contributes to fatigue and energy loss. When exhaling, use your nose to expel as much air as possible so that your lungs are clear for your next mouth inhale. Practice building up a breathing rhythm that involves short holds, nose exhales, and mouth inhales.
Breathing properly can make all the difference in your overall swim performance. Looking to optimize your breathing in freestyle? At The Race Club, we strive to provide our subscribers with the information and resources that will dramatically increase their performance in the pool.
From online coaching to race analysis, and seasonal planning to freestyle swimming drills, our subscribers enjoy a range of benefits – better breathing technique being one of them!