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Do you find your breathing pattern goes out of the window when you’re racing or swimming faster or i

Do you find your breathing pattern 'goes out of the window' when you’re racing or swimming faster or in open water?

If your breath out and in are short or rushed / late then you will be building up higher levels of carbon dioxide and also lactic acid than you're body can cope with. The resulting effect will be that your muscles get tired as they're being starved of oxygen, and you start slowing down, and maybe even need to stop to catch your breath.

This can also be compounded by not sighting correctly i.e. lifting your head up too high, to the front or side or both, which will cause your head and body back down into sink in the water. The other issue you may be experiencing with a high head whilst sighting is that you swallow some water. This will make it all feel much more laboured.

We work a lot with our swim clients and fitness squad on the breathing action and breathing timing. Breathing sounds simple doesn't it? We can triple the time you have to breathe in if you're breathing in late, and help you to relax more breathing in for longer.

  • Exhale - bubble bubble breathe underwater as soon as your face re - enters the water

  • Keep head still - turn your head with your body

  • Breathing timing - aim to breathe in by the time your arm passes your shoulder

  • Sighting - keep your head low with the water only on the edge of your nose

  • Breathe every 2 strokes if you feel short of breath or racing, fully exhale underwater, and rotate your body to 45 degrees each side.

Correct sighting techique:

Try this drill and see where you are breathing in:

1 Goggle Eye Breathing drill (fins optional)

Whilst breathing keep one goggle eye in the water, with the other one out, with your body balanced horizontally. Keep your lead arm under the surface of the water as you glide.

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Maintain a balanced and horizontal body position during this drill, as this limits your head lifting too high and your legs dropping in a corkscrew effect.

The action of moving through the water creates a bow wave, which gives you the space you need to breathe.

You should aim to be breathing in by the time your passing / stroking arm is in line with your shoulder. If you're behind this point, e.g. not breathing in until your hand is by your waist or hip or thigh, then you're breathing in too late!!

If you're struggling with getting more air in, feeling like you're gasping or in oxygen debt, then we can help you feel a lot more relaxed and comfortable, for all levels of swimmers.

We offer the following swim coaching services:

Private swim lessons at Guildford Lido

Fitness and Technique front crawl squad at Aldershot 50 metre indoor pool

Swim video analysis lessons in an Endless Pool in Chertsey, Surrey, KT16 9NH.

Personalised coaching

Contact Nick for more information on or 07958635142

Nick is a level 3 British Triathlon coach, Training Peaks level 1 coach, Training Bible coaching master endurance coach. He is also an STA level 2 Swim Teacher, Open water coach and was one of the key coaches who helped re design the STA Open Water Course manual, focusing on the sea swimming section in particular.

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