Free Air: How to Breathe Easier

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For those of you that have trouble with breathing during swimming, check out this blog post from Terry Laughlin (founder and head coach of Total Immersion). There are some great tips here. If you want help with your breathing, contact me at or consider one of my Lesson Packages. For more great blogs from Terry, check out For one of my personal blogs on breathing in swimming, check out “That sinking feeling…Finding the right breathing rate for swimming”.
Free Air: How to Breathe Easier
by Terry Laughlin

Originally Posted on December 16th, 2009

If I ask new swimmers what their biggest challenge is, most say it’s breathing. Many report experiencing one or more of the following symptoms of “airlessness.”

They’re out of breath after a lap or two
They hold their breathing, because their stroke falls apart during a breath.
They’re concerned with taking in water, instead of air.
If any of these are true it’s nearly impossible to build toward a continuous mile. In fact, you become so preoccupied with or distracted by lack of air that it’s hard to think of much of anything else.

If this describes you — or even if you can swim a mile but feel your breathing technique could be better — this blog’s for you. This stepwise series of focal points focus on breathing easier:

1. Blow bubbles. Exhale steadily and strongly enough that you can hear bubbles streaming from your mouth and nose anytime your face is in the water.

2. Inhale like you sing. If you sing at all, even in the shower, you’re familiar with how you often have to grab a quick, sharp inhale between phrases. You don’t have time to fill your chest, so you just take a “quick bite” to get through the next phrase. That’s how you inhale between strokes. The exhale is strong, conscious, sustained. You hardly notice the inhale.

3. Follow your shoulder. If you’re breathing to your left, move your chin in synch with your left shoulder as that arm strokes. Your chin follows the shoulder back, then leads it forward again.

4. Hang your head. Focus on feeling a weightless head, resting on the water, as you follow your shoulder to breathe. Keep your “laser” aimed in the direction you’re going, as your mouth clears the surface.

5. Swim “taller.” With each stroke focus on using your hand to lengthen your body-line, rather than to push water back. Then give particular attention to lengthening with one hand as your chin follows the other shoulder back.

To learn more about breathing skills – in all strokes – check out our O2 in H2O DVD.
I hope you enjoyed this blog from Terry.

If you decide to buy the DVD, be sure to use coupon code “coachryan” at checkout to save 10%.

Ryan Chapman
B.A.S.E. Training

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