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Freestyle Swim Lesson #1:
 Breath Control and Rhythmic Breathing

When we watch someone with a good freestyle stroke, it’s easy to get caught up in how they kick and pull…when one of the most important things we should watch is how they breathe. Notice how this swimmer breathes with a relaxed, steady rhythm.

She doesn’t hold her breath when her face is in the water. The air comes out her nose in a nice steady stream. This kind of breath control and rhythmic breathing is the ultimate goal when you swim freestyle, but it starts with simple breathing exercises in the shallow end.

When working with beginners, I start with breath control and then progress to rhythmic breathing. To begin, have the swimmer take a breath, close their mouth, and hold the breath for 10 seconds above the water.

Next, have the swimmer put their face in the water and hold the breath for 10 seconds while standing on the bottom.

The final breath-control skill is to float, face down, for 10 seconds while holding the breath.

The next skill is to practice blowing bubbles out the mouth. Start with a fun demonstration…having the swimmer blow a ping-pong ball across the top of the water.

Then, let the swimmer take this under water and create a steady flow of bubbles.

The next step is to learn how to exhale out the nose. Start by practicing out of the water. Have the swimmer close her mouth and breathe in and out through the nose.

Now have the swimmer start to exhale through the nose, then pinch the nose so they can feel the air pressure…then release and feel the exhalation.

Now move it to the water line and have the swimmer exhale out their nose. This should create a disturbance on the water… or surface bubbles if they submerge.

If the swimmer has difficulty with this, they should go back a step. Start to exhale through the nose, pinch the nose and go under water, blow out and feel the pressure, then release the nose and continue to blow bubbles.

The last step is to practice vertical bobbing for 1 minute. Blow bubbles through the nose for about 5 seconds, come up for one breath, and repeat. Have them keep everything rhythmic…and relaxed.