How to Breathe When Swimming: Learn the Trick


If you want to learn how to swim, one of the first things that you must master would be the proper breathing techniques. It is not as easy as it sounds. Integrating breathing with your movements can be a challenge. That said, in the rest of this post, we will let you know how to breathe when swimming. It takes quite a bit of practice to learn how to do it right! Once you learn how to breathe properly, you are sure to become a better swimmer.

The Importance of Proper Breathing

Before we tackle the specifics of proper breathing when swimming, let us first talk about why you need to learn it.

When you breathe badly, it will inevitably add resistance to your stroke. In the same way, it can also add fatigue to your body. With this, errors in breathing will make you feel easily tired and unable to finish your laps.

There are many ways by which breathing affects your performance in swimming. For instance, it has an effect on tension. When you hold your breath, your muscles will contract. This will make you less fluid in your movement. More so, proper breathing is important for posture. It can make the chest more buoyant if you draw air from your lungs. You might also feel suffocated when you do not breathe properly. The balance and alignment of the body will also be affected by your breathing.

How to Breathe When Swimming

The first thing that you have to do is to practice even before you plunge into the water. This will allow your body to be prepared for the actual experience once you are already swimming. To do this, follow these steps:

  • Lay flat on the side of the swimming pool. Half of your body should be on the platform and the other half should be in the water.
  • Place your one arm on the side. The other arm should be extended in your front.
  • Keep your eyes directly at the pool deck. Turn your head from the middle to the side.
  • As you turn your head, make sure that the chin also moves to the shoulder and back without moving the head up.

Now that you have completed the first part of the drill, it is time to get in the water. This time, you will need floats for this exercise.

  • Hold the float in your one hand at the top corner and at the opposite bottom corner.
  • Kick your legs while your face is submerged in the water.
  • You should look directly at the bottom of the pool.
  • Once you are ready to breathe, all that you have to do is to repeat the exercise above. Rotate your head from the middle to the side while making sure that it does not move upward. While you do this, take a short and shallow breath until you resume the position of the head in the middle.
  • As your face is in the water, make sure that you blow out instead of blowing in.
  • After this exercise, take it a notch further. This time, you just have to repeat the steps that have been mentioned above, but you have to do it without the floats.

Master Rhythmic Breathing

When it comes to breathing while you are swimming, rhythm is one of the most important things you need to learn. This is all about knowing how and when to breathe. With this, the most crucial is to start exhaling through your nose as soon as you breathe in. 

One of the most common problems amongst novice swimmers is that they try to hold their breath as long as their face remains in the water. They inhale and exhale only when their head is out of the water.

Get the Right Ratio

Mastering the right ratio is also crucial if you want to learn the proper way of breathing when you are underwater. When you are on land, you are most probably breathing at a ratio of one to one. Meaning, you exhale once and inhale once, both at the same length.

When you are in the water, on the other hand, the said ratio won’t work. Your body won’t be able to handle the momentum. With this, it is recommended that your exhale will last twice the inhale. Some might even resort to the three to one ratio. This might take quite a practice to master.

The breathing ratio will also depend on the specific swimming stroke. For instance, if you are swimming freestyle, you should breathe after completing three strokes.

Get the Right Ratio


Breathe Out of the Nose

When you are swimming, it is always better to breathe out of the nose than the mouth. This will allow you to maintain a constant stroke and breathing pattern.

Nonetheless, it is also possible to use a combination of breathing from the nose and mouth depending on what you are most comfortable with when in the water.

For those who choose to breathe through the mouth, it is crucial to invest in nose plugs. This will prevent the water from entering the nostrils.

Practice in a Bowl

If you do not have a swimming pool at home, you can start practicing your breathing drills in a bowl that is two times larger than the head.

  • Dip your chin first. Once it is submerged, try to breathe in from the mouth. Then, breathe out of the mouth and nose. Do this for at least 30 seconds or until you feel relaxed.
  • Touch the surface of the bowl with your lips and nose. Practice inhaling and exhaling.
  • Now, wear goggles and completely submerge your head. Practice the breathing rhythm and ratio that have been discussed earlier.
  • Practice breathing both in your nose and mouth. See which one you are most comfortable with.

Wrap Up

With the things that have been mentioned above, we hope that you now know how to breathe when swimming. It may sound quite intimidating for beginners, but once you start practicing the drills, it will be easy to master. Take note of the right techniques to make you perform better when you swim!

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