How to Breathe While Swimming

What is breathing? It is just inhaling, exhaling! All about that? Well, it is pretty simple, just repeating this inhalation and exhalation throughout the whole day! It’s the normal scenario we experience every day. But the fact is a little bit different for the swimmers. In the open air (that means out of the water), breathing is normal just like this.

But when you are in the water, you have to tackle gravitational force, buoyancy, and propulsion to let the breath come to your nose. Also, the water resistance combined with the body joints, makes the way more complicated and makes your lungs down to breathe underwater. However, there are some physics showing us some ways that we could take a breath comfortably when we are on a swim course.

Let’s explore all those fundamental physics and tricks to know how to breathe while swimming.

trouble breathing while swimming

How to Breathe While Swimming?

A deep breath is better for the swimmers. Especially at the first phase of any stroke, or what you can call the pull phase of the stroke is the exact point where you need to inhale deep air inside your lungs. When you are at the pull phase, might be you moving with your extended arm. So your head position is exactly at the lean of your extended arm.

In that case, if you want to inhale the breath, just move the head aside (rotate it) a little bit up in the water’s surface. And inhale a long breath. In this way, there is no chance to inhale water with the breath. Also, there is no chance to drink water by mouth or through the nose. Make sure, your body is in a straight line on your body. Do not tilt or blend your head position either upward or downward Keep your head lined up with your body position.

While you are keeping your head neutral, also do not strain your neck on the back. It can hamper your inhalation process. Your ear also has some role in breathing while you are swimming. Make sure your both ears are at the right position on your both shoulders. Why breathing is especially emphasized at the time of swimming? It is because of the breathing timing. A long and comfortable breath obviously will help the swimmer to complete the strokes conveniently.

However, general tips you can follow to take a comfortable and effective breath while you are swimming are

  • As already said, rotate your head slightly. Do not tilt up or down your head while you are inhaling the air through your nose.
  • Make the inhalation time quickly up the water surface (obviously, you can’t inhale air under the water). Excell under the water, slowly, comfortably. Most newbie swimmer often stops their breathing while swimming, It is worse because it grabs more energy from the swimmers, thus the swimmers become tired quickly. So do not stop your breath underwater. Make the whole inhalation and exhalation easy after several tries.
  • Focus on your extended arm. You must extend your opposite-sided arm, while you rotated your head to take a breath. That means, if you rotate your head on the right side, so your left arm would be extended. This opposite arm extension ultimately makes the breathing process easier with a supporting body position. Again o the next breath does the opposite as previously.
  • Do not breathe always the same. That means changing the breathing pattern frequently. Though it’s a matter of practice a lot, once you learn it, you can breathe comfortably while swimming whether in open water or in a closed pool. You also may hear about rhythmic breathing. This breathing takes more time to fill your lungs, thus it gives a longer time to exhale the breath as well. If you could give this breath, it would be better for your swim.
  • Breathing on one side also is preferable if you could adjust to it. That means you have to breathe every 2 or 4 strokes. But a combination of both bilateral breathing, and one-sided breathing is the perfect match if you want to breathe well while swimming.
  • Count the breath. Suppose you have to take a full breath. Now, look at whether you need to take a breath at the pull phase. Multiple breaths at the pull phase mean you are taking short breaths, and you are not getting enough air at your breath. As only one inhale is suggested for one stroke, that’s why it is mandatory to make the breath long and deep enough.
  • Already we talked about the exhale. Always exhale under the water. Do not hold your breath under the water, it is not a smart move in your race. It badly impacts lung capacity. Rather than it’s sort of the trap. Holding your breath will directly impact the timing of your valuable storke. Rather it also forces your lungs to scream for fresh air or oxygen. Finally, this will overdraw you from your course. Your breathing exhalation should not interrupt the stroke and body movement on the course. But if the exhalation process itself gets disrupted, ultimately the whole swimming will spoil.


Why do I struggle to breathe when swimming?

Perhaps your body position is not staying in a straight line, or in a good manner while you are on the swim course. Focus on your entire body position, swimming freestyle, and other swimming technique. Also, keep your head in a neutral position according to your body line while you are in the race.

Should you exhale through your nose or mouth when swimming?

At the time of swimming, it is better to exhale through your mouth instead of exhaling it through your nose. As exhalation needs to do underwater, therefore if you do it through your mouth, it will be safe and efficient more for you.

How can I relax my breathing when swimming?

Take a long and deep breath up to the water. Do not inhale underwater. Also do not exhale up to the water. Exhale slowly, and exhale completely. Make the exhale time quickly so that you can quickly get to the next breath. Also, do not hold your breath while swimming, it forbids you to take your breathing at the time of swimming.

In a Nutshell

The thumb rule is limiting your time to inhale when you slightly rotate your head on the water surface. Also take long and deep breaths, so that your lungs do not get any chances for scrambling within a few seconds. Learn well to adjust between the inhalation and the exhalation on each stroke. Also, try to catch which breathing pattern suits you best.

Avoid too much breathing it can cause hyperventilation for you. If you want to stop the disorientation in your swimming breathing technique, accommodate a good inhalation with exhalation in a controlled way. Prepare yourself so that you can calmly wait to take the next breath without impacting your 2, 3, 4, or 5 strokes.

That’s all on How to breathe while swimming.

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