Swimming certainly sets itself apart from other sports in that your breathing is very limited. Olympic freestylers rarely take a breath over the course of a 50 meter race. For the casual swimmer, though, breathing doesn’t have to be a big production if you know the right way to do it.
Beginning swimmers have the tendency to lift their heads out of the water in order to take a breath. However, as you lift your head, the rest of your torso tends to follow. The converse reaction is that the lower half of your body sinks, causing drag.
However, in swimming, the goal is to maintain your overall body line. Instead of lifting, try to envision yourself rolling into your breath. Simply roll your head to the left or right to expose your mouth for air. A good rule to avoid over rotation is to keep one goggle gasket in the water and one out. After the breath, simply roll your head back into the centerline position to continue swimming.
Also when learning to swim early on, it’s tempting to pause your entire stroke and draw in one giant breath with every head turn. However, this isn’t necessary if you’re steadily exhaling while your head is in the water. Instead of holding your breath when swimming, try blowing out of your nose continuously between breathing. This will allow you to dispel your carbon dioxide methodically and keep you from gasping for a huge breath.
Another aspect of breathing during swimming to consider is how big you open your mouth. You’ll draw in the same amount of air whether your mouth opening is gaping or tiny. But, if the bigger your mouth opening is, the more water you risk taking in as well. You’d be better served maintaining a consistently small mouth opening when side breathing in swimming. Keep that in mind when inhaling during your side roll.
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