how to breath while swimming


Breathing is a difficult task for most beginners based on the fact that a proper breathing technique is required for swimming, unlike other sports. Take for instance you don’t stop to breathe in the air then run again while jogging. Breathing is continuous for jogging and should be same for swimming, making it part of what you do. Breathing when swimming should be really natural, being relaxed and consistent makes it easier to swim with the help of breathing rhythm. Running out of breath wouldn’t be a problem again.

Breathing is natural for all of us. It is a familiar activity. When necessary, we take control of our breathing to pump in more oxygen. With Swimming However, being comfortable and relaxed in your surrounding is an essential key to breathing. Learning how to breathe while swimming is a skill on its own. Having a rhythm to your breathing is critical in Swimming.

How to Breathe while Swimming

A regular breathing rhythm is required, taking in air as much as needed at an interval of two to three strokes is appropriate. The scoop is to breathe through your mouth when your head is out of the water facing sideways looking up and breathing out as much as possible gently through your nose when you head is submerged in the water while swimming. Whichever side you breathe on doesn’t really matter, as long a comfortable breathing rhythm is achieved, because consistent breathing can be quiet challenging at first. But when the techniques have been mastered you feel more relaxed.

Swimming Equipment, eye goggles, for instance, is a small equipment that makes the swimmer comfortable while breathing. Irritation in the eye while swimming can make you blind, causing anxiety. You should always wear goggles whenever you go swimming. Practising Face in the water is a basic step to learn swimming and also very important because once your face is out of the water while swimming, heads facing up. Body hips and legs drop invariably causing abnormal body posture.

To Exhale underwater is a major problem for beginners, whereby they often forget exhaling underwater. You only have to inhale when you go to breathe outside water when you have exhaled underwater. So one should remember about exhalation, Not Inhalation.

Basic swimming skills, which are:

  • Breast Stroke
  • Freestyle Stroke
  • Butterfly Stroke
  • Back Stroke

Breast stroke

The Only period and time you can breathe is bringing your head out of the water to exhale and catch in a new breath at the interval. The use of both hands and legs together is required, swimming like a Frog.

Freestyle stroke

During this swimming exercise, you can breathe by turning your head and facing the sky between 140 to 180 degree to exhale and inhale.

Butterfly stroke

This swimming style requires Skills and lots of Energy. At this stroke, breathing comes when you lift yourself out of the water to propel yourself forward to your destination when your head is out of the water, like a dolphin.


As the name implies, so basically your face is out of the water. This stroke gives room to just relax and breath face up while your arms move alternatively to the back down to your hips.

Ways To Improve Your Breathing Techniques

Relax: Facial muscles shouldn’t be tensed up as it gives inefficient air exchange during breathing when swimming.

Breathe Out: Beginners tend to hold their breath underwater instead of breathing out when swimming. When your face is submerged in water, you should be breathing out gently, releasing bubbles either from your mouth or nose.

Breathe In: Breathing through the mouth is common for most swimmers; this particular skill should be quick and last for a second.

Timing: A comfortable rhythm to breathing can be built making sure that breathing out in water should be about twice as long as breathing in above water.

These Techniques are very important because one of the biggest challenges one has to overcome is controlling of breath when you start swimming.

Breathing Error While Swimming

Holding-breath occurs when your face is in the water while swimming, a period when you are to exhale. Because the feeling of breathing into water feels unnatural, allowing the swimmer to inhale and exhale quickly while the face is out of water. Many people don’t know how to breathe while swimming, It isn’t the lack of oxygen that makes the swimmer desperate for air, but the buildup of carbon dioxide from holding the breath. Also, it is known that holding of breath while swimming can cause breathing irregularity making it difficult to get the exact amount of oxygen to the muscles and organs.

Furthermore, Lungs are inflated like balloons leading to extremely high pop up of the chest and dropping of the hips and legs. This drag can be effectively avoided by the adaptation of more consistent breathing skill/ technique.

Tip To Avoid Error

Your main focus should be on exhaling the air out of your lungs through the nose and mouth smoothly, just as if you are sighing with your face in the water. Followed by small gently sip of air as your face and body come up of the water looking to the side during each stroke cycle. Removal of by-product (carbon dioxide) and sufficient supply of oxygen with the help of the breathing technique which occurs at every two strokes while ventilating the lungs.

Breathing Exercise

Holding of breath outside water helps in lung capacity expansion, position yourself at a comfortable and safe area like on chair or bed and practice. While performing the exercise an individual should also be at your side to assist in situations of lightheadedness and fainting.

Position yourself at an upright standing manner and bend down, while you make sure you inhale deeply and hold it for 15 to 20 seconds. While holding your breath elevate your hands right above your head. The moment you know it is becoming difficult breath, breathe out with your Hand slowing moving downwards. This exercise can be repeated 3 to 4 times daily.

This can be done every 5 to 6 minutes a day. Inhale deeply with your nose and be sure to fill up your lungs to the bottom. Slightly exhale through your mouth, twice as much and as long as your deep inhalation.

As you breath in observe stomach expansion while inhaling for 15 to 20 seconds. When you notice, then you know you are getting to the part of your lungs that is the deepest. This is done before going underwater. Avoid the practice of taking quick small breaths called hyperventilation, this can cause high risk of blacking out when you submerge yourself underwater.

Immediately you observe or notice you cannot breathe out more air while swimming underwater swim to the surface to breathe in.

Exhaling of air, whereby bubbles constantly flow out from the nose and mouth, will not cause water to flow into your nose and mouth. Like it was stated earlier that holding of breath underwater or hyperventilation (short and quick breaths) can lead to a blackout. It is advised to exhale slowly through the mouth and nose.

  1. Proper exhalation leads to body sinking to the bottom, while if you not exhaling properly your body tends to rise to the surface. With consistent practice and as you build your breathing rhythm you can comfortably sit at the bottom of the pool until you need air. You shouldn’t stay too long underwater when you are short of breath come back up for air to avoid drowning and blackout. Only experienced swimmers can do otherwise.

Breathing Mechanics

Inadequate breathing mechanics can slow down the strength of any of the strokes listed above and can also increase dragging, during breathing.

There are several ways to increase your stroke effectiveness;

  1. To ensure proper body movement and to make powerful strokes, focus on moving your body bilaterally towards the direction of the air. By so doing you would not be breathing just by turning of the head, that way the risk of getting muscle tension is low.
  2. The swimmer has to maintain balance while moving to breathe in air, avoid the urge of lifting your head to breath as this leads to slow movement and increase in drag due to the sinking of hips and legs.
  3. Stay on a straight line while doing the bilateral movement, focus on cutting through while breath.
  4. Many times, there is always an unstable stroke during the period of rotating to breathe in air. The other hand should maintain a forward stretched position for the period of inhalation, that way the strength of rotating towards the other side is maintained also for inhalation.
  5. Movement should be strictly regulated strongly focusing on the upper hip moving downwards that will enable extra power towards the next movement to breathe.

Factors to Consider in Learning Swiming

This actually varies from one individual to the other. Knowing that there are various factors which can affect individuals during the teaching process of swimming.

  1. Fear
  2. General Fitness
  3. Flexibility
  4. Body Co-ordination
  5. Experience of the Teacher


This is an important factor the swimming instructor can use to determine the ability and extent it will take to teach an individual. For instance, beginner swimmer who as the trait of fearlessness can comfortably relax in water regardless of the depth. But for someone who is afraid will find relaxing difficult, in other words constantly fighting the water.

The individual will be anxious, tensed or even get panic attacks. And the inability to even carry out basic movement instructions. Whereas someone without fear can adhere and respond well to instructions and flow with continuous movements.

Confidence to be able to swim can only be gotten through action, that is you follow all necessary instructions. Practising every time to achieve noticeable results. Swimming class once a week wouldn’t give the best results, unlike attending classes twice in a week.

General Fitness

An individual’s age doesn’t really matter when it comes to swimming, anybody can decide to learn swimming for different reasons.


Swimmer in this aspect is not actually a major factor. Anybody can decide to learn swimming. There are no stated criteria for swimming lessons.

Body Co-ordination

Advanced motor skills of an individual would really be of great help during swimming making it easier to achieve movement within a short period of time.

Experience of the Teacher

Just as we all know that something cannot be passed on only if you have what exactly is required in you. Consistent updating, practice and background in swimming can only give the best results to building great swimmers.

Basically, individual body position, arms, legs, breathing, and timing. All can be implemented into the various strokes listed above. The butterfly is known is to be physically demanding, unlike breaststroke that is highly technical for an individual.

Age To Begin Swimming

how to breath underwater

The recommended age according to the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) to begin swimming is ages 3 and 4. However, the ability to follow safety measures and carry out instructions correctly cannot be achieved by ages below three.
Parents that are ambitious believe that children who are exposed swimming early achieve better results than children start late. But it has been proven that great swimming moves begin to show at the ages 5 and 6 irrespective of the time of learning.

Early swimming has a great Disadvantage on the children, it makes them build confidence fast. And it also serves as a great means of exercise, especially for the overactive children. Allows them to sleep better, increases appetite and it is also very beneficial to asthmatic children.

Proper observation must be carried out in the child to identify any form of Phobia (Aqua Phobia), the fear of water. Forcing an individual into swimming isn’t an appropriate thing to do if you really don’t want to send the wrong information that will lead to a long-term decision towards swimming.

Generally enjoying pool time with family makes it easy, because there is no exact age for a child to be allowed into the pool with family. Comfortable clothing during swimming is preferable to avoid drag. Water temperature can play a vital role for the kids. So, if you want them in a warm water pool is the best. Water should be germ-free and clean as kids have every tendency to swallow some amount of water during swimming.

Ways to Improve your Swimming

Balanced and Nutritious Diet

A nutritious diet is no news for an individual that needs to swim because of the amount of energy required.  This energy can be acquired mainly by fresh fruits, vegetables, a high source of protein meal, low-fat dairy products and whole grains with plenty of fluids and oral hydrates. The fluids do not include alcohol, alcohol shouldn’t be consumed.

Adequate exercise and practice

Yoga is an exercise known for breathing meditations. It is a good way to learn how to control your breath and build an accurate breathing rhythm. Make sure you don’t hold your breath while swimming, you breathe out slowly through the nose. Ensure that your whole body is used to allow maximum forward movement.

Serious Stretching and warm-up

Stretches and warm-up help to avoid injuries because the body needs to reach its maximum potential for the set speed and energy. Improvement of techniques really helps in the efficiency drastically; confidence and speed are also major tools in swimming. Avoid diving straight into the water without proper preparation. Drilling of your speed is important, swimming time should be the main focus, not distance.

Water intake helps in the fight of fatigue; it also helps boost energy level and keeps you focused and prolongs endurance during swimming. Stay Hydrated. Timing is very important for any swimmer in terms of eating, because in as much as you don’t have to overfeed yourself it is important to eat moderately to get energy, and meals should not be taken an hour before swimming to avoid stomach upset due to little sip of chlorinated water mixing with food. It is also necessary to have someone around either at the pool or open water, lifeguards at the pool and swim buddy at the open water. In case of situations that require a second party.

Breathing while swimming is an underrated skill, it requires a lot of body activity technically and physically to maintain balance, confidence, speed, time, distance and all this happens, and you also try so much to avoid injuries such as muscle tension, blackouts, and fainting.

Even with the unnatural act of exhaling into the water, yes for me it is highly emphasized because it has been and still is one of my major concerns. Like how do you do it? Then we have a drill to help get rid of the doubt. Inhalation of air before bringing your hands down to your side, this drill aims at sinking the individual right down to the bottom without any form of obstacles like pauses or delays.

While going through this, the individual should consistently try to exhale with either the nose or mouth to get a natural feeling which is best.


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Harry Dave

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