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In freestyle, my breathing controls the timing. And I want the breath to be quick.
When I’m quick with the breath, I can rotate my body faster and get my hands moving faster.
If you’re a 50 freestyler, you can get through your race with one breath. If you’re swimming the 200 or 400 IM, you need to breathe every stroke on freestyle, and those breaths need to be quick.
At the end of an IM, my thought process is to get my breath moving and my hands moving. As my left hand goes in, my head is already to the side taking that breath. And by the time my right arm comes around, my head is already back down. The breath controls the rhythm and the timing.
Coming home on an IM, when I’m already extremely tired, I’m breathing every stroke and it’s a constant inhale, exhale, inhale exhale. It’s basically a sprint 50 freestyle and you need plenty of air.
The breast-to-free transition is unique in that you don’t use the first few stroke cycles to settle into a nice pace. As you transition to freestyle, you need to think about exploding off that last wall and going all out for the last lap.
In this final clip, focus on the connection between my head and my body rotation. You can see how a quick breath helps me rotate and set the timing for the stroke.