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Swimming can be a difficult sport to learn if you’ve never been taught the very basics. One of the biggest issues most beginners face is breathing in the freestyle stroke. Even for veterans of the sport, breathing can be a nightmare if you don’t know the correct technique and method for easy and effortless breathing in freestyle.

The prospect of swallowing water can stop people from learning swimming as it can all seem too difficult after they’ve given it a shot three or four times. If you are having breathing problems in your swimming, don’t despair. There is an easy solution which can be implemented right away. Here I will outline the three keys to overcoming breathing problems in swimming.

1. Breathing out

The most important aspect of breathing technique is the breath out. The reason most swimmers choke on water is because they blow out all of their air too early or too late. The swimmer should breath to the side of the recovery arm (the arm which is out of the water) and take a big breath of air. As the head enters the water, begin blowing a small amount of air out of both the nose and the mouth. Continue doing this until just before you take your next breath. As you go to breath again let all your air out quickly through your nose and mouth just before you take that next breath. Remember that last sentence and your breathing problems should be fixed.

2. Rotation

To breath effectively it’s necessary to breath to the side. The easiest way to do this is to rotate the shoulders throughout the freestyle stroke. This makes it easier to get the mouth out of the water so not as much head rotation is required. Use your body roll and momentum to help rotate your head when breathing.

3. Stay relaxed

A secret to effortless swimming, not just effortless breathing, is to stay relaxed. Too often swimmers will tense up, hyperventilate and force themselves through the water. This isn’t how to swim fast. You must stay relaxed, keep calm and allow yourself to glide through the water. During your breathing, keep calm and allow yourself to breath normally without forcing air in and out.

There you have it, three important tips which will help you breath easier in freestyle. Remember to let all of your air out quickly through your nose and mouth just before you take a breath. Use your body roll and momentum to help rotate your head when breathing, and stay relaxed and breath normally though out the stroke.

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It’s difficult trying to figure out how to flip turn on your own. Most people who begin swimming as an adult will never learn the correct way to flip turn simply because they never get taught. They go through trial and error but never seem to be able to ‘nail’ the freestyle turn correctly. There is one big mistake 90% of swimmers make when doing a turn.

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Most swimmers will use their arms to help them flip over in their turn. As they approach the wall they put their arms in front of their head and ‘scoop’ the water in a circular motion to initiate the flip. This not only slows down their momentum but it places their arms in the wrong position before pushing off the wall. A swimmer will need to overcome a lot of resistance to get their arms into the streamline position before pushing off.

The correct way to do a freestyle turn is to bring both arms to your side after taking your last stroke. Your arms will then remain by your side as you drop your head and put your chin to your chest and perform a dolphin kick to help initiate the ‘flip’ motion. As your body is performing the flip motion, your arms will stay in the same position as when you begun the flip motion and they will go into streamline position. As your feet hit the wall shoulder width apart, your upper body will be straight and streamlined with the hands together, and your legs will be bent at the knees ready to push off. At this stage you should be on your back or slightly rotated to a maximum of 45 degrees. As you push off the wall begin your rotation to your front as you perform dolphin kick off the wall or go back into your freestyle stroke.

The most important thing is to avoid using your arms to flip over, instead keep your arms by your side as your body flips. Your arms should then remain where they were when you begun your flip, and then they will be able to go straight into streamline position as you hit the wall