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swim breathing help

morning guys

I am trying to learn to swim so i can do my first tri, been a non swimmer for 48 years.

just managed my first 25m length of the pool but i am knackered when i get there due to the fact that i am not breathing properly. I have tried lots of different things 2 stroke, 3 stroke, 4 stroke but i always get so far and then run out of air, it  almost feels like I am not getting all the air out each breath and eventually I am unable to breathe in as I am already full of used air ( if that makes sense)

I tend to take large gulps of air but have recently started to try and take smaller breathes, I am not really sure if this is helping or not yet.

I have looked online but there is so much contradicting info that I cant sort out the wheat from the chaff.

So has anybody got any experience they could pass on or show me a link to the correct way of breathing. I have until September to get up to 500m lol


  • risris Posts: 1,002
    There was a similar question not long ago, from someone who has been learning for a few month's and felt bogged down on the breathing. A lot of what I wrote there is probably applicable to you as well. If you can get into the habit of a 3-breath pattern (bilateral) then it'll probably help keep you balanced as you learn, but but if you are finding it totally knackering then consider a 2-breath for a while and alternate sides.

    Thread was here, there was really useful stuff in it:

  • stgrantystgranty Posts: 4

    thanks mate, appreciate that

  • HarryDHarryD Posts: 425

    Here's my reply to an post from earlier this year

    Having taught many to swim front crawl from zero breathing has proved to be the most difficult thing to get right.

    To practice breathing out get into a dead man's float position (a mushroom float will do) and breathe out hard until you sink to the bottom of the pool. Expect to exhale a lot. Come up when you are ready. This can be very difficult and may need lots of practice. You may panic or get tightness in your upper chest. Relax and keep trying. The panic will die and the chest tightness will quickly go with practice. Soon you'll be able to sit on the bottom. Now you can breathe out. Best let the lifeguard know what you're doing

    Most swimmers breathlessness is because they try and breathe in too much and build pressure in the lungs/chest which gives the same feeling as being breathless. This stops fresh air replacing stale air containing the waste CO2. Try breathing in fully, pause, breathe in some more, pause, breathe in even more without breathing out. How do you feel? Now breathe out, pause, open your mouth and let the air in without deliberately inhaling. Now breathe out and see how much air you you took in. Should be the same volume. When you swim breathe out hard under water and simply open your mouth to let the air in as you rotate - the air comes in very quickly and effortlessly. Do not deliberately inhale.

    Hope this helps


  • I would second the other comments. Also I started learning about 12 months ago and got completely out of breath every length. Took me a while to work out that I was essentially sprinting every length and then wondering why I was knackered. 

    So one day I went out at a pace that seemed painfully slow (really, really slow) but I just focused on breathing out in the water and taking enough air every 2nd/3rd stroke. I did 400m straight in a time that obliterated my sprint-stop-start approach from before.

    Also I am assuming that you breathe out underwater whenever your head is in the water - makes taking in enough (but not too much) air easier.

    Hope that helps and good luck!!!

  • MacaroneMacarone Posts: 58

    I'd also recommend joining a swimming club ideally with a coach who will look at your technique and instantly tell you what you're doing wrong. They'll also help you avoid picking up bad habits which may be slowing you down and making you less efficient in the water. It's also a great way to improve your long term swim fitness as they'll push you harder than you mayl on your own.

  • sgberreysgberrey Posts: 2

    You need to get used to breathing on your side. One drill we used to do as an age group swimmer was a kick drill.

    No kick board, push off from the side and go onto your left hand side in a "superman" pose, left arm extended, right arm by your side. Your head should be just under the water level. When you want to breath, just lift your head out of the water by pushing down your left hand a few inches.

    Change sides every two breaths - pull your left arm down to your side and recover your right arm to the "superman" pose.

  • stgrantystgranty Posts: 4

    thanks for the input guys

  • breathe every stroke even at the beginning of the race, breathe at both sides is possible  An oxygen deficit early in your race is a recipe for disaster, breathe in a manner that creates a steady state of oxygen delivery 

    Check this video of Andy, it's pretty helpful

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