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Learn How To Swim 101 - Breaststroke - the Arm Action - Breathing

Breaststroke Breathing Arm Action

Once you have established the basics of your breaststroke it is time to start to learn to breathe.

By now you should be lifting your head out of the water. By that I mean you should have your head coming out of the water something like this.

Image of Swimmer doing Breaststroke arm action as they Breath. Side View
Breaststroke Breathing Position Side View

image of a swimmer doing the Breaststroke In-sweep
Breaststroke In-sweep
If you are finding that you are not getting your head out more or less like this, it's probably because when you put your head under the water you are putting it too deep under water.

When you begin the stroke you should start in the torpedo position and end in the torpedo position and the top of the back of your head should not go fully under the water. I often say to my swimming students that they should try to keep the top of the back of their heads just on or out of the surface of the water.

Wait... Get Your Lesson Plans Here

I sometimes get an argument from some of my students to the effect of "I've seen them at the Olympics having their head under water". Then I have to explain that if you look closely you will see that the winning swimmers are the ones that keep the top of the back of their heads skimming along the surface of the water and that whilst it may look like they have their head under the water it is actually just the wake forming over their head that they can see.

Then I tell them that they need to practice to get it right and that the start of the practice is to keep the top of the back of their head just out of the water.

The other thing that may make it difficult for you to get your head out of the water is that you are not  finishing the sweep at your shoulders.

Lifting Your Head At The Start of Your Stroke

It is very common for those new to breast stroke to finish the stroke at their hips and trying to lift their heads at the end of the stroke rather than the beginning. The result is that the swimmer has no more lift in their stroke in order to get the head out of the water. Thus there is no way to take a breath.

The lesson is keep your strokes short and lift your head at the start of the stroke and you should be doing fine. The moment you've mastered that, you are ready for the breathing.

All you have to do now is blow all your air out (lots of bubbles, big bubbles, blow everything out) under the water. Then lift your head at the beginning of the stroke and breathe in. This way you will get a full lung of air and you won't run out half way through your stroke.

You are going to get this wrong and occasionally take a mouthful of water. Don't get discouraged. When this happens reread the above,  practice the lifting of your head out of the water the correct way and after some practice try again.

With enough practice you will get this right.

Next time we will talk about the breaststroke leg action.


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