One of the most common challenges novice swimmers face is breathing. Few exhale properly, which adversely affects their performance in the water. Bad breathing adds resistance to your stroke and fatigues your body. It does so in four ways:
- Tension—holding your breath contracts your muscles, which makes your movement less fluid;
- Posture—drawing too much air into your lungs makes your chest more buoyant than it should be;
- Panic—failing to exhale causes C02 to build up and creates that suffocation feeling;
- Volume—exhaling when you turn your head does not give you enough time to inhale deeply.
Ideally, exhalation should take twice as long as inhalation. Such a ratio makes for a natural breathing sensation and can relax you in the water.
Whenever your face is submerged, begin exhaling. Maintaining a constant stream of bubbles between breaths helps avoid the pitfalls stated above.
Two- or Three-Stroke Breathing
Three-stroke or bilateral breathing enforces balanced breathing in the water. Although adding an extra stroke between breaths decreases your oxygen intake by nearly 50%, it can prevent imbalances in your posture and teach you to exhale. See the graphic below for further instruction.
Graphic from DagBlog.com.