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How to improve your breathing skills and timing for front crawl

This post is primarily intended for beginner and improver level front crawl swimmers.

To clarify, a beginner level swimmer would swim less than 25 metres and an improver level would be able to swim more than 50 metres but find their form deteriorates after 100 metres. However, this can apply to all levels of swimmer, with great gains to be made in terms of relaxation, more time to breathe in, less panic and better swim efficiency! Now who doesn't want all that for Christmas?!!

There can be a few reasons why you may not be able to swim beyond 25 or 100 metres, including the following, with the main one being related to the breathing action. We'll be investigating the reasons for these and how to correct in turn.

  1. Legs kicking too fast and bending from the knee

  2. Dropping the lead arm in the glide and entry phase which is needed for balance

  3. Over rotating to breathe

  4. Turning your head and shoulders first to breathe

  5. Not breathing out underwater

  6. Still breathing out as your head comes round to start breathing in

  7. Timing of your arms out of synch

  8. Timing of your breathing late or out of synch

  9. Inhaling and exhaling in very short breaths

  10. Sinking as you turn to breathe in swallowing water

All of this will build up carbon dioxide levels in your lungs, which increases lactic acid levels in your muscles, adding to fatigue levels and eventually causing you to stop swimming from being out of breath.

These 2 drills will help you start to relax in the water and teach you breath control. Practice them lots, and get in touch if you need more help, or know of a friend or loved one who is struggling with their breathing for front crawl, or wants to learn to swim front crawl. Don't let breathing hold you back from achieving your swimming goals for 2020!! We can help you learn how to overcome all of this with a series of swim drills in the endless pool in Chertsey, and show you what you're currently doing wrong and how to improve it all!

Sink downs (see video above)

Complete Exhalation of the air in your lungs allows you to drop quickly, then stay on the bottom without sculling. Sitting on bottom for an extended time shows control of the urge to breathe in

Come up gradually, not rushed. Breathe in ONCE completely above water, then immediately Drop & Blow back to the bottom

AIMS to teach breath control

Kicking with a board for breathing pattern

Kicking on your front with a kick board, and your hands and elbows resting on the board. Place your face in the water and breathe out for 2 seconds, then lift and breathe in for 2 seconds. Exhale almost fully but leave some air in your lungs so you don’t have a feeling of panic set in

Helps with the rhythmical nature of breathing for front crawl, and getting you used to placing your face in the water, and exhaling without running out of air. Relax your muscles and breathe more from your diaphragm than your chest.

To learn how to breathe more effectively without wasting energy you'll need to be focusing on the following drill areas correctly from better body position:

  • Bodyroll

  • Glide

  • Timing of your arms

  • Kicking

  • Timing of your breathing inhale

  • Exhaling correctly

  • A weightless arm

Add more speed, power and stamina to your front crawl! Improve your technique, pacing, reduce your stroke count by up to 10%, and your stroke efficiency (SWOLF score)!

Learn how to control your pacing, reduce drag, become more streamlined, build your fitness, and become a Speedier Swimmer!

  • Analysing stroke rate

  • Better balance in the water

  • Kicking less and more efficiently

  • Improving body position

  • Better rhythm and timing of your arm stroke

  • Reducing resistance and drag

  • Breathing technique and confidence

  • Even body roll

Learn how to correct your front crawl stroke and swim faster than ever with less energy!

We can help you improve your technique using video camera analysis, stroke correction and swim drills in the endless pool. Based in Chertsey Surrey.

Sign up to an endless pool 121 video analysis session and find out what’s been holding you back with your swim stroke.

If you have a swim technique problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the Speedy Swimming Team!

Get in touch by giving us a call on 07958635142 or email us at

We offer

1. Swim Video Analysis Clinic Sunday 19th January 2020:

2. Front crawl video analysis in an endless pool at Tribal in Chertsey:

3. Swim squads for intermediates, held at Aldershot 50m indoor pool:

4. Online training plans for swimming and triathlons:

Copyright © Speedy Swimming

Nick is a level 3 British Triathlon Coach, STA level 2 Swim Teacher, Level 1 Training Peaks coach, and Training Bible coaching Master endurance coach with 25 years’ experience in triathlon, founder and Head Coach for Speedy Swimming.

Video of Haydn Woolley of Futuredreams in NZ, used with permission

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