Problems with Freestyle Breathing?

A fellow blogger asked:

“Tri training week 2 and I have finally found the beginnings of my freestyle stroke again. I realize this will take time, but I’m having problems with my breathing (taking in some water occasionally), turning my head too high when having to take a breath, and not getting my elbow high enough out of the water. I know this will take practice, and I know part of it is anxiety in the water of having to think of everything I need to do, but my sprint tri is at the end of July. Any suggestions?”

We do have a few suggestions for you to consider:

  1. Try to begin your breath as you start your pull and end it as the arm returns forward.
  2. Your head should not rotate independently from your body when breathing, but roll with the body. 90% of freestyle is spent rotating from one side to the other, think about “keeping your head inline with your spine.” A better rotation means you won’t have to overcompensate by lifting your head out of the water.
  3. Your chin might be “untucked.”  An untucked chin is the same as swimming with your eyes up and will pull your mouth in the water and cause your hips to sink.  Make sure you breath back toward your armpit – it should almost feel like you’re breathing under your armpit, instead of breathing forward under your arm.
  4. Try kicking on your side with one arm extended and focus on keeping your ear to your shoulder as you breath freely. Rotate from one side to the other every 6-8 kicks, making sure to think about your ear the whole time.
  5. Try 3 Count Pause Drill and Fingertip Drag to work on a high elbow recovery. You could also be swimming flat too, which would make it difficult to get your elbow out of the water. Catch Up Drill and kicking on your side (as instructed in the paragraph above) will help you rotate better.

It is very likely that your breathing problems and lack of a high elbow recovery are related. Work on that rotation and practice breathing bilaterally (to both sides) to keep your stroke even. A few minor adjustments will go a long way with your breathing. Good luck!



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