If only we didn't have to breathe


The head is such a key influence to the body position in the water so it is really important to control your head position when you breathe. 

When you are breathing your head acts like the bow of a ship – if you roll your head to breathe you create a bow wave and you can breathe into the trough created alongside the head – like in this picture.

If you lift your head to breathe, this change in head position will influence the hips and legs in the water to usually be a lot lower and in fact you will actually have to lift your head higher to get a reasonable breath.


Put on a pair of fins if you have them – this will make it a bit easier to start with and later on you could try doing this without them.

Hold onto a kick board out the front and then take single arm strokes breathing to one side – as you take your breath consider these key points

  1. Look to the side not the sky – aiming for one goggle in the water one out.
  2. Push your forehead down into the water and roll to the side as you breathe rather than lift your forehead up and away from the water.
  3. Breathe out the corner of your mouth – try not to take big gasping breathes
  4. Quickly return your head back into a neutral position in the water after you have taken a breath

Then swap sides so you become competent at breathing on both sides. I often see individuals look forward first before taking a breath so just be aware that your head movement is simply just a movement to the side.


If you are breathing correctly by rolling your head to breathe you will most likely be

  1. Decreasing the oxygen demand on your body as it takes less energy to roll your head to breath rather than to lift it up high
  2. Reduced frontal drag component as you will create a longer streamlined body position at breathing rather than a banana shaped body position.
  3. Reduced lower body drag as the legs and core won’t be pushed down as you try to lift your upper body up to take a breath. This can also result in an improved kick technique.
  4. Create better timing and balance in the stroke, either by
  • not requiring you to roll around so far for each breath and pausing in this high position
  • reducing the requirement to lift up high to breath which in return results in a large collapse after each breathing stroke


You can learn a little more about this at http://www.boostcoaching.co.nz/swim-basics/