I get asked a lot of questions about swimming: questions about kicking, about pulling, and about…breathing.
A client happened to ask one of these questions about breathing the other day, and I thought it would be fitting to share with everyone else my take on the question…
The question in this case revolved around both inhaling AND exhaling when turning to breathe – and yes, if you attempt both at the same time you will indeed end up swallowing and inhaling water. Only one thing should happen as you turn your head (read as: your entire body) to breathe, and that is…breathe! As in inhale!
Ok! For the response of Coach Tina and Made2Move Performance Training:
Relax, relax, relax.
This will steady your breathing rhythm in the pool; just as in running and walking, your inhalations and exhalations should occur evenly and naturally. What does this mean? Exhale under water (NO BREATH HOLDING EVER!), and inhale as you turn your head (again: body – rotation is paramount for proper breathing) to the side, usually every three strokes. You do not have to exhale solely through your nose. Do some people say that this is how you should do it? Yes. But even some Olympic greats will admit that they do not. I know that I do not – I do a combination of nose and mouth. It may be that you need to breathe every two strokes, but if you find yourself breathing EVERY stroke (with the exception of doing super-fast anaerobic sprints and you are on #15 out of 20), then you are not permitting your body to develop a relaxed, even, rhythm. Breathing every stroke can be compared to breathing with every foot strike while running – imagine inhaling when your right foot hits the ground and exhaling when your left foot hits the ground. You’d be pooped in no time! Not very efficient.
Don’t over-think it (easier said than done, I know!); just let it happen. And yes, you may at times swallow and/or inhale water. Even the pros still do that. But it need not be a lot. This is where a good rotation, reach, and high elbow come in handy!