There are some common questions that pop up by new swimmers about how to breath properly in freestyle swimming. A swimmers ability to swim efficiently relies heavily upon getting the breathing correct. In freestyle swimming, body position needs to be correct before anything else. But for many, once they throw in breathing…it all goes haywire! This is a result of lack of balance and breathing by moving the head and not rotating the body to breath, plus a few other things.

These are the four breathing mistakes made freestyle, as well as how you can overcome them:

1. Not Getting Sufficient Air

There are a number of reasons this typically happens in freestyle swimming. To begin, make sure you breathe out all of your air before rotating to take a breath. When learning, there are some people who try to exhale and inhale while they are rotating to the side for oxygen. There just isn’t enough time to do this! Exhaling should only take place in the water in the form of bubbles. The timing might seem difficult at first, but eventually you will get accustomed to it. Second, you may find yourself sinking when you breathe. Be sure to roll to the side to breathe, and not rotate your head to look straight up. Practicing side kicking drills and shark fin drills, as shown in the Mastering Freestyle program with Australian Champion Sam Ashby will also help you with this challenge.

2. Your Leading (Extended) Arm Sinks When Taking a Breath

This is to do with lack of balance. When you take a breath, your other arm should be extending in front. For a lot of swimmers, the extended arm drops down into the water, dropping the elbow and sinking their body while trying to inhale. The side kicking drill and shark fin drill mentioned earlier will also help to improve this. Another useful drill that will help with this challenge is the fist drill which is also a part o the Mastering Freestyle program. This drill forces you to swim without the use your hands, therefore improving your balance in the water.

3. Sacrificing Speed While “Pausing” During Breathing

It’s typical for many swimmers to be cruising along feeling smooth and comfortable and then you take a breath and it feels as though you’ve lost all your momentum. To stop this, when you breathe, focus on first breathing to the side by having your mouth parallel to the waters edge, rather than breathing over the water. It may take a while to perfect, but once you do, it will get rid of the pause, and improve your speed overall.

4. Sucking Water In When Taking a Breath

In training, this can often occur because of #1 and #2 above.  There are numerous drills to practice which will help you with this such as the side kicking and shark fin drills, so too as one-arm drill. One-arm drill is simply a full stroke but with one arm while your opposite arm rests at your side. Breathe on the opposite side of the stroking arm. This dill isn’t easy but once you get you may notice a major improvement in your swimming!