42 - Maximize YOUR Swim Breathing

TL:DR | Depending on where you are on this swimming journey this information will hit differently. I intend on trying to help people think about where they need to get to with breathing.

3 min read
42 - Maximize YOUR Swim Breathing

You never know what challenges you're going to face when learning a new skill like swimming. However there is one challenge I KNOW you will face, and it is because EVERYONE faces it.

It is a common issue that persists in even some of the best swimmers, and most people don't know how to overcome it. We have been talking about it the last couple weeks, and you can see it in the title above: breathing.

Why + Philosophy:

What makes breathing so dang important? Can't we just turn our head? Can't we just stand up in a short pool? Sure, those are options, but they are only temporary solutions.

Turning your head may be the mechanism to breathe while swimming, but when do you do it? When do you move your head, your arm, breathe out, breathe in? When do all of those come together? Once you have mastered the puzzle, and can do all of them in order, then how do you become better at it?

How + Physics:

These questions can be answered, and I will try to do the best I can at answering them concisely today. When you are swimming, the three steps are what keep you at the surface, if you mess them up; Then you are going to sink down, and so before even thinking about breathing get better at those first.

Your swimming is good, and you have a bit of endurance, let's breathe! You hold your breathe for a few seconds, 3-5 for now, then blow out of your nose under the water.

As you are doing that mentally prepare yourself for the turn, and make sure your kicking is consistent. Perhaps even a bit faster.

Once you start turning your head (chin/face are down, don't look up) to the side, that is when your arm (on the same chosen side) comes up out of the water. Both the head and arm are moving at the same speed. Once your hand reaches it's highest apex point, then so does your face/chin reaching your shoulder. That is the moment where you're taking the most of your breathe.

You might start a millisecond sooner, and end and millisecond after too. Depending on how well you do, there will be different size windows of opportunity.

Even this descriptive explanation isn't quite enough to really get it, but at least will give you the right idea.

What + Psychology:

Determining how big that window is for you, is calculated by a number of factors. As an instructor is see the equation clearly, but for someone who is learning it can be a lot harder.

It goes something like this:

3 Steps x Lung Capacity - Time spent underwater already x Breathing skill execution = How much air you will inhale.

If you don't kick you'll sink, if you look up you'll sink, if your arms aren't moving you'll be too slow (and presumably sink in most cases). If you spent a ton of time underwater before breathing, then you're already too close to a panicky state. If you 'somehow' make it past all that, then it comes down to how well you breathe.


In these breathing posts I might almost seem like I have a lack of confidence in the swimmer's skills. Your skills even, but that isn't the case. Regardless if I taught you, or someone else did. There is a high likelihood of things like panicking happening.

It is just a matter how the swim learning goes, and we have to work past those moments of panic in order to breathe. Not to mention get better.

If you're interested in taking it a step further:

One Digital Swim Lesson - $60

We would meet over a video chat, and we can discuss what you need to learn the most at this point in time. Try to determine whether it is the WHY, HOW, or WHAT, that is most important for you.

If you have a water proof phone, then we can even work in the pool as well.

Take a Swim lesson!


This is advice for people to level up their swimming, or perhaps get started in the first place. While you swim you should make sure you are doing so in a public facility with a lifeguard on duty for safety.

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