10 steps to learn correct breathing in freestyle

Many people get to their first swimming lesson, and the first thing they say is: “I don’t breath right,” or: “I have a problem with my breathing.” In 95% percent of these cases breathing is the least of their problems. It’s just like a man who carries a 30kg backpack and can’t run because he’s out of breath and can’t lift his feet.

Our goal as swimmers, beginners or advanced, and especially in WEST swimming, is to get rid of that “weight”, and then it will be easier for us to “run”. When we swim we try to get rid of all the “stops”, all the movements that cause our body to stop in the water, to sink, a thing which makes us put our efforts into lifting our body in the water instead of stretching the body in the precise depth in accordance with our built and so float better. When we swim effectively our breathing will regulate as well.

We prepare 10 drills for you so that you can learn how to float better, strengthen your lower back and improve your speed:

Drill 1 – Freestyle without breathing with “piano” fingers

Swim without breathing. At the end of each hand stretch release your palm and fingers and move your fingers as if you were playing the piano. When you run out of air stand up slowly, bring your knees to your abdomen, hands back, and only when your feet touch the bottom get your head out of the water.

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Goal – Releasing the hands enables the body to elongate better, float better and so prepare for the next drills.

Drill 2 – Freestyle without breathing with fins

Swim without breathing. Think of the end of each stretch. During the stretch make sure your face is down so as to preserve your neck and lower back. When you run out of air roll on your back, blowing air through your nose and stand up slowly. The purpose of rolling is to preserve the lower back and enable standing up with the fins.

Goal – Get accustomed to fins and the length of the movements, so that in the future you will be able to breathe easier.

Drill 3 – 5 second “Superman” with fins

Kick with your feet for 5 seconds, one arm at your WEST stretch depth and the other along your body. After 5 seconds switch hands slowly. When you run out of air stand up slowly in a roll like the previous drill.

**You can do this drill using a snorkel and so keep a flow of movement and work better on the angle.

Goal – To work on gentle kicks in an angle of 45-60 degrees. Once we know how to kick with the fins on the one hand, and keep our head down and the correct angle on the other, breathing will become easier.

Drill 4 – Swimming in a breathing position with a float

Swim on your side with fins where one eye is in the water, the mouth and nose outside of the water and a dumbbell float held in your hand at the waterline. If you don’t have a dumbbell float you can use a board. It’s important to understand that the drill is only an intermediate stage. When we swim normally the correct breathing position will be with your hand at your WEST stretch depth according to your flexibility, and never at the waterline, because that creates stress to the neck and the lower back. Every 50m do a fin stretch. Every 12.5m or 25m flip sides to practice the correct breathing position on both sides.

Goal – To allow the swimmer to lean on a float so the hand doesn’t droop and the breathing can be regulated more easily.

Drill 5 – Breathing position with a tennis ball and fins

Swim on your side with fins when one hand holds the ball. Keep the hand at the right depth according to your WEST and move the fingers of the leading hand a little. The other hand should be alongside your body, and your body at a 90 degrees angle.

Goal – A tennis ball floats, but we can still sink it in order to be in the right position and not create stress to the neck. The hand movement prevents the hand from drooping in the future when you come out for a breath.

Drill 6 – Breathing position with fins and without floating devices

After we learned to find the breathing position with a float, we are ready to the next and the most important step – breathing correctly without creating pressure to the neck and lower back. When we kick with fins it’s very important to release the leading (forward) hand as much as possible.

Goal – Get the body used to working on both sides without floating devices except for the pins, which create both elongation of the muscles and floating.

Drill 7 – Body in 45 degrees and 180 degrees with fins

This is one of the most important angle drills for freestyle with correct breathing and lower back preservation.

Swim with fins and kicks for 3 seconds, your body at a 45 degree angle and your head down. Let your body roll without working your neck until your palm and face is facing upwards while your ears remain in the water. During the roll it’s very important to exhale through your nose so that water won’t get into your nose.

Goal – Once we know how to roll to 180 degrees in a light’ easy way, we will be able to do the same to 90 degrees.

Drill 8 – From 45 degrees to 90 degrees with fins

This is one of the most important drills for breathing while swimming. Kick your legs for 3-5 seconds when your body is at a 45 degree angle. Keep your hand stretched according to your WEST. Stretch a little more to create floatation and rotate your body and head without working your neck until the body is in breathing position like we did in drill 6.

Goal – To prevent drooping of the forward hand while maintaining the correct depth. When you know how to roll for breath without treading and forward momentum, breathing will be easier.

Drill 9 – Freestyle with a 3 second pause in breathing position

Swim freestyle with a long glide. On the third movement you come out for breath slowly and pause in breathing position for 3 seconds. When swimming normally and coming out for breath there is a tendency to put the head right back under. Once we learn to hold the breathing position for 3 seconds our breathing will be accurate and without working our neck and back.

Goal – To come out for air and prevent the body from sinking.

Drill 10 – Freestyle with breathing every 3 strokes with and without fins

Swim freestyle with breathing every 3 strokes. Breathe slowly, without working your neck, and try to finish the length of the pool in 12 strokes with fins on. When you can do this easily repeat the same exercise without fins and try to maintain a slow glide and slow breathing.

Goal – Not to “steal” the air but to breathe easily and symmetrically while strengthening the abs and preserving the neck and the lower back.

In conclusion:

To be able to breathe easily on both sides, swim symmetrically and move faster, you need to elongate your strokes and get your muscles used to several conditions, and then you can enjoy a long easy swim and oxygenate more slowly.

It’s important to note that Olympic swimmers “steal the breath”, meaning that they try to breathe faster in order to return to their flow line as quickly as possible.

For people over 20 breathing this quickly will cause neck pain and result in slower swimming.

Start today and get 50% off on your swim WEST freestyle course




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