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Front crawl Breathing technique?

Hi all,

I recently posted a message about doing breast stroke for my first attempt at the Tatton Triathlon sprint distance. With all your advice taken on board it still leaves me with the annoying, if not challenging front crawl!. I have had a few swimming lessons to try to master the stroke but i am still having problems with my breathing. when i started i could not even put together half a lenght of the local pool(25m pool). i can now do a full length with a true technique but find myself breathless at the end each length. I have tried breathing on every 2nd, 3rd and 4th stroke, all of which i feel fine with but i simply dont appear to be getting enough air into my lungs? Maybe it is due to a bit of anxiety? My swimming instructor seems to think that with practice it will all fall into place? Any help or advice would be much appreciated. Cheers.


  • TesseractTesseract Posts: 280

    It's a common problem, I had it too (for the first few years of trying!). Overall, yeah it's down to practice, but the following will also help:
    > Slow your stroke: crawl feels unnatural as we've our faces under water, so the natural thing to do is to speed up to get next breath/ end of pool, however this is counterproductive. If you slow your stroke down you don't need to breathe as hard, and it's easier to get a breath.
    > Focus on rotation: good rotation makes it easier to breathe as you've longer to do it.
    > Watch your flexibility: some difficulty in crawl breathing stems from expanding the lungs under stretch, ie because your arm is fully extended
    > Practice catch up & glide: again part of slowing your stroke, but again slowing your stroke helps get the form right, then you can speed up.

    Hope these help.
  • I went through exactly the same last year. I started swimming in March and then did a half Ironman in September so it can be mastered! Some tips from me:

    slow your stroke and breath every other stroke. I just breath to the right but on every right stroke.

    minimise the use of your legs for now. Your legs use up something like 4 times more oxygen than your arms.

    make sure your coach knows what they are doing.

    practice at least three times per week. Aim to do say 50m continuous and build it up.

    I hope this helps.
  • GeneralGeneral Posts: 26
    Cheers for your replies.

    I will try slowing the whole stroke down and breath on every 2nd stoke and see how i get on.

    I did my first open water swim last week and was told my technique was good so i am happy that my swimming instructor has done a good job so far. The open water swim did highlight that breast stroke was harder in a wetsuit. On the other hand crawl was easier so if i can sort my breathing out then i will be well and truely up for it next season!.
  • md6md6 Posts: 969
    Are you breathing out enough? This may sound counter intuitive but when i was having some coaching (partly for the same reason) my coach said that i was not breathing out enough so when i took a breath i wasn't getting in enough new air. I slowed my stroke (as others have said), tried to relax and made sure that I almost completely emptied my lungs before taking a breath - breathing as and when i needed to. I have since refined that so i can breathe every 2, 3, or 4 strokes depending on conditions etc. Oh and OW breathe every 2 on the side which is not facing the sun.
  • GeneralGeneral Posts: 26
    Cheers for that md6, i hadn't even given it a thought that i was not breathing out enough? Do you have to expel all the air before your next breath? I will definately work on it later on at the pool. I have been told to breath slowly through my nose or mouth, which ever feels comfortable. Personally i feel more comfortable breathing through my nose. Is there any prefered method or is it personal preference?
  • TRIumphantTRIumphant Posts: 850
    Slow your stroke down, and relax as much as possible. Easier said than done, because of you are short of breath, then you won't be relaxed, but one feeds the other. Make sure you fully exhale under water, as a last resort, blow out any air just as you're turning your head, but it's still better to fully exhale underwater. Once you've fully exhaled, then all you have left to do is breathe in, and you'll find that the time your head is out of the water is more than enough. It's only really a challenge when you are trying to exhale and then inhale during a single head turn.

    Get used to breathing bi-laterally, so every third stroke. If you have difficulty exhaling underwater, tow things can work. Firstly, try humming, mouth closed and hum through your nose. IF you constantly hum when your face is in the water then this will force you to exhale, and with mouth closed and through your nose as ling as your humming then no water can get in.

    Second option is to talk. A common one is "bubble - bubble - breathe". if you do this in time with your stroke then it'll assist you in bilateral breathing. Once you get the hang of it then you can drop the talking, but I still do it every now and again as it helps me focus.
  • GeneralGeneral Posts: 26
    Now the talking idea is an interesting one, i will definately try that as i have no problem with breathing bi-laterally. so it is "bubble-bubble-turn your head and breathe"? I can go with that. Cheers for the advice.
  • Race1Race1 Posts: 58
    TBH It matters not if you physically say "bubble bubble bubble" or "God save our gratacious queen" or say nothing and push the air out of your nose or mouth. (Personally I breathe out through my mouth under water at the moment works for me )

    The idea is that because you are expelling 80%+ (estimate) of the air in your lungs when you turn your body (or neck if you are still learning) to breathe your body will just take a breath more naturally. And you'll not get into a panic and starting sucking down too much air. Or at the wrong time. You'll just get a rhythm. Breathe in out of water, breathe out under water, breathe in out of water, breathe out under water etc etc
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