Breathing Tips for Freestyle

Posted admin Articles

Breathing Tips for Freestyle

Triathletes always want to hear about breathing tips, so here, Brent and I discuss how to breathe for triathlon freestyle, answering a listener question.

[leadplayer_vid id=”5122117F7D301″]


Hi Guys, it’s Kevin Koskella of and I’m going to be doing a series of videos with Coach Brenton Ford of and we’re going to be tackling the most common issues in swimming and mostly how it relates to triathlon. So we’ve taken a lot of questions from various people from both of our coaching experiences and compiled them into a series of videos.

When I start my swim, I feel out of breath after the first 100 yards. After that I feel like I spend most of my effort just getting air. Running and biking doesn’t do this to me, though being newly in training I know my endurance is what it should be. Why is the swimming so much more draining on my breathing?

Brenton: That’s a good question. It that’s in a race, the I would ask if you are doing warm up or not before that, but with swimming generally, if you jump into the water the first 1, 2, 300 meters that you do, they are going to take your breath away because you are still warming up and getting used to it. If that’s in training, then get through a couple hundred meters in warm up and then you can sort of judge how much breath you’ve got left. You need to warm up whether it’s a race or training. You need to get a few hundred meters done first before feeling comfortable in the water.
Otherwise it could just be a matter of stroke and technique. You might be working to hard in the water and you’re not gliding enough and relaxing. That’s a big part of swimming is just staying relaxed and gliding with each stroke. It could be a matter of technique and you might be fighting the water a bit more water than what you should be.
Kevin: I agree with that and I think the warm up thing is an important point. A lot of triathletes tend to skip warm up for their races and that’s just a horrible idea especially when you are getting into cold water because you are going to get that shock feeling at the beginning and I still get that if I jump into cold water without any kind of warm up and that will really hurt your swim and that will really setup the rest of your race from that beginning when you are kind of panicking over that cold shock feeling. I think the warm up thing is important.
Learning how to breathe is also, that will be really important. That is one of the hardest things and we get a lot of questions, both of us get a lot of questions on how do you breathe in swimming and so focusing on that technique and learning how to take a breath and taking a stroke without throwing you all off rhythm. There’s a lot we can go into there, but basically what most people do is lift up their head to breathe and instead of lifting your head up you want to get to the point of breathing to the side so you’re not wasting a lot of energy and basically damaging your stroke or having a stroke that’s going to kind of fall apart on you.
Brenton: Yeah, that’s right and it doesn’t matter how good a swimmer you are, you’re always going to be out of breath those first few hundred meters while your body gets used to it so definitely do a warm up if you are training or racing and with the breathing, breathe more towards your shoulder and towards your side and keep your head in line with your body so you’re not looking up while you breathe because that’s going to throw your body out of line. That’s really the key to breathing in freestyle and if you can, keep one goggle in and one goggle out of the water and then that will make sure your body stays in line too.
Kevin: Easier said than done, right?
Brenton: Yeah, exactly right, but if you know what the goal is, what the position in breathing is then you can move towards that. It’s not going to happen tomorrow but you can move towards it as you go.
Kevin: Yeah, and a lot of times that’s a buildup thing. I teach a lot of balance drills to get to that point because a lot of people aren’t balanced in the water so it all comes back to that. A lot of these questions come back to are you balanced in the water or not? And if you’re not you are going to be struggling to get a breath and then even after the first hundred yards it’s still using up a lot of energy to get that breath.