Perfecting freestyle breathing

When watching swimmers perform freestyle, incorrect breathing technique can play a significant role in decreasing speed resulting in slower times. Three common errors that we tend to see are:

The swimmer lifting their head up and out of the water to breath. Doing so changes the swimmers body position in the water causing the hips to lower, which increases the amount of drag.

Upon breathing the swimmer rotates their head to far and with it turns their body, which means a loss of the streamline position in the water. The head can often be seen looking up in the air, up to the ceiling if you like, and the body twists with this action creating a snaking action in the water.

Swimmers may sometimes turn their head behind them, looking backwards to breath, rather than side on or just in front of side on. Again, this causes a twisting action in the body, with the front part of the body moving off centre leading to increased frontal resistance, in turn slowing the stroke down.

In training, when doing freestyle drills and various speed sets, swimmers are asked to concentrate on ‘one goggle only’ breathing. This means that swimmers must keep one eye in the water upon taking their breath, decreasing the amount of movement from the body, keeping it more streamlined. Swimmers can be worried that they will not be able to breathe properly, as their mouth is too close to the water to get air. This fear can be alleviated, when swimmers come to understand the pocket of air created behind the bow wave when moving forwards through the water.

So go practice some ‘one goggle only’ breathing to improve your freestyle.

About Richard Bruford (54 Articles)
Richard is currently Secondary School Principal of Suzhou Singapore International School, one of China's leading international schools. He leads workshops across the Asia-Pacific region for the International Baccalaureate in the areas of pedagogical leadership and approaches to teaching and learning. Richard consults with schools on the topics of school improvement and effective implementation and use of technology. With a background in public and independent school education in the UK and Australia, Richard is enjoying his international school adventure in China. He is passionate about developing and supporting educational leaders, as it is essential to improving all schools. Richard is a proud family man and feels lucky to be married to Kim and father of their son Austin. In his spare time Richard enjoys to swim, bike and run and is a now retired football player and coach (with occasional guest appearances)

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