Goal: Learn to get plenty of air without disrupting the tempo or technique
Our goal in this course is to give you the skills to have a relaxed freestyle stroke. A large part of that is learning relaxed breathing. Afterall, it’s hard to relax doing anything if breathing isn’t easy.
In fact, it may have struck you as odd that breathing wasn’t the first skill to learn. But as mentioned in the previous sections, body position and timing gives you the relaxed stroke and makes time for you to breath. If you have already practiced these two skills, you will probably already feel more confident in your breathing.
When to Breathe
As your hand enters the water, you reach with your lead hand. At this point, it should feel natural for you to roll your body slightly and turn your head to the opposite side, to breathe. You need to be finished with your breathe before the lead hand catches the water and turns into the pulling hand.
How to Breathe
Breathe in through your mouth and out through your nose. Don’t be in a rush to breathe out, if you have excess air to you can exhale through mouth and nose as you start to turn your head for another breath.
Your breathing should fit into your swim tempo and technique, and not force you to adjust either. Rotate your head to the side and try to keep one goggle in, one goggle out. It should feel like you’re taking a “sneaky breath” because you’re using minimal movement to grab a breath between arm stokes.
How to Practice Breathing
We’ll use some single arm drills to help practice breathing. If breathing is an issue to you, I encourage you to start each workout holding onto the side of the pool and breathing in through your mouth above water and out through your nose below water. Think of it as yoga breathing, in water. Next, do the same but place your face in the water and practice turning your head to the side, keeping one ear in the water. Once you’re relaxed, start the workout.
Occasionally, the workouts will call for you to do bilateral breathing. That means alternating you breathing side from left to right. So, breathe every 3 or 5 arm strokes. This helps balance the stroke, but during a race you should breathe to whichever side feels comfortable to you.
We also do some practice on buoy-spotting. You will need to lift your head and look forward, to spot your target. This technique is like taking one or two water polo strokes.