Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Swimming: How is Your Side Breathing Technique?

One of the biggest stumbling blocks in swimming is learning how to side breathe correctly. Many swimmers have a fear of drowning, but once they overcome that fear, they can work on relaxation, buoyancy, and increasing their distance.

Proper side breathing technique is when there is a turning of the body or rotation on it's axis that enables the mouth to be turned out of the water rather than lifted out to breathe. If you find that you are lifting your mouth out of the water, you will have the negative effect of adding drag by the sinking the lower body.

Proper breathing technique should allow you to inhale through your open mouth, and exhale through your nose. While your face is in the water, expel about 95% of your air supply under water. As you begin rotating, expel the remaining air out your nose. By releasing most but not all of your air prior to turning, you now have allowed the short amount of time that your face is now out of the water to inhale a good supply of air, rather than exhale and inhale in the limited amount of time due to your arm strokes. Don't be afraid to take a larger breath. A large breath allows your body to relax a little longer while performing an exhaustive athletic event.

Another important piece for efficient side breathing is the direction that you face to breathe. Looking behind you under your arm at a 45 degree angle creates a cove that the oncoming water moves around, rather than allowing water to be directed into your mouth. By looking under your arm and keeping your ear in the water, helps you to maintain the proper streamline position of your body while moving through the water smoothly.

Lastly, we should discuss the use of the off hand (the left hand for those that breathe on their right). As the off hand begins to drop (initiating the pull), the head should begin to rotate. The off hand is used in a supportive role, not aiding the rotation of the head. The longer the pull of the arms, the greater the breath and the more relaxed you should be.

If you have any questions about side breathing technique, or any other swimming related question, please feel free to contact me.

Written by Dan Lavin
Aquatics Director, Seattle Athletic Club Northgate

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