Your swimming level doesn’t matter, but your breathing does. Here’s why. Think of yourself as the car and your breathing as the engine. It drives your physical performance in the water. You’d be surprised to learn the number of people that overlook breathing during swim training and competitions. When you’re out of the water, breathing comes naturally, but in the water, it’s a completely different story.
Why Do You Need to Improve Your Breathing for Swimming?
Physical exertion gives your lungs a workout. Your lungs allow you to breathe in more air to produce more oxygen for your body to utilize during exercise. The same thing happens when you breathe out to release large amounts of carbon dioxide into the environment.
For swimming, you need to improve your breathing by training your respiratory system responsible for breathing. Training helps you learn how to breathe faster, deeper, and efficiently than before.
You can perform breathing exercises to breathe better when you’re in the water. When your breathing improves, your swimming improves with it. Improving breathing for swimming will reduce your respiratory rate and provide you increased control over your breathing.
Controlled and improved breathing is an advantage during physical activity and preparation, recovery, and stretching stage. You need to increase your lung capacity to improve your swimming ability, as a lack of air can be detrimental to your overall performance.
The Effects of Poor Breathing
You get out of breath when your circulatory system fails to transport a sufficient amount of oxygenated blood to fulfill your body’s oxygen requirement. Your respiratory system, breathing ability, and heart play an important role in making you feel breathless.
Poor breathing leads to poor oxygenation or hypoxia. Hypoxia creates an imbalance of oxygen in the tissues. Your tissues require more oxygen than your body can supply. Hypoxia can affect the muscles and cause inflammatory lesions and cramps. In the water, you breathe a little differently.
Breathing in the Water
When you’re swimming, you breathe through your mouth. In the water, full exhalation removes all the air from your lungs. In return, you inhale air more efficiently. You can exhale for two to three minutes more than you inhale while swimming.
You breathe differently in the water due to the coordination between moving your arms and legs and breathing. If you’re performing a breaststroke, for instance, you need to synchronize breathing in and out with your arm and leg movements. If you want to increase your performance in the water, you need to improve your breathing to become a better swimmer.
How Improved Breathing Benefits Swimmers?
Improved breathing influences a swimmer’s swimming technique, buoyancy, body balance and alignment in the water, muscular and propulsion effort, and water resistance and hydrodynamics. Now that you know the major role breathing plays in the water, you need to improve your breathing by performing breathing exercises with and without devices.
3 Breathing Techniques for Swimmers
Here are three breathing techniques you can perform to improve your performance while swimming:
1. Use Breathing Patterns during Swim Training
Using breathing patterns during swim training helps you become more focused and more disciplined. Here’s what you need to do:
- Breathe after every four or five strokes. If that’s still too much, breathe every three strokes.
- Breathe after every five or seven strokes while performing pull sets.
- Perform breathing patterns while warming-up and during pre-set to prepare your lungs.
2. Perform an Underwater Dolphin Kick
An underwater dolphin kick has become an unofficial fifth swimming stroke. In swimming competitions where you’re competing in a short course swimming pool, you can swim underwater for most of it. You’ll need to master this swimming technique to use it efficiently in the water.
You’ll also need to hold your breath for this one. You can improve your breathing while swimming by performing an extra dolphin kick off each wall. By performing an underwater dolphin kick, you’ll learn how to control your breathing and improve your dolphin kick in the process.
3. Buy a Respiratory Training Device
If you want to improve your breathing out of the swimming pool, you can have a respiratory training device. You’ll notice an immediate improvement in your breathing using a respiratory training device.
Respiratory training devices are like weight training for the expiratory and inspiratory muscles. A respiratory device is made from a plastic tube and features a mouthpiece, which you place on your mouth to inhale and exhale.
It has dials to adjust to increase resistance and improve your ability to breathe in and breathe out air. With a respiratory training device, you can increase your 100 meter sprint times by 1.7% if you perform 3x30 repetitions using it each day.
If you want to try out a respiratory training device, we recommend the Orygen Dual Valve. You will see an instant improvement in your breathing using the device if you use it two times each day for four to five days. That’s once in the morning and once at night. The user-friendly and affordable device can help you improve your breathing for swimming.