Irrespective of your swimming level, breathing is the engine that drives the physical effort. It is a technical aspect that is too often overlooked, both in training and in competitions. That’s why it is essential to work on it. On land, breathing is a natural and unconscious act, but inside the water, it’s a completely different ball game.
The Importance of Training your Breath
During exercise, our lungs demonstrate an impressive ability to adapt. When the need for oxygen increases, our lungs let us breathe in more air and therefore more oxygen. The same phenomenon takes place when we breathe out to release a greater amount of carbon dioxide into the air.
Training teaches you to breathe faster and deeper and therefore more efficiently. Breathing exercises help you understand how to breathe better while swimming. Therefore, learning to breathe properly can significantly improve performance.
Clearly, better-controlled breathing is an asset during exercise. Also, during the preparation phase for warming up, and during recovery and stretching following activity.
Lack of air
When the circulatory system is unable to carry a sufficient quantity of oxygenated blood to fulfil requirements, this makes you out of breath. Yet it is not only the breathing capacity and respiratory function that are directly involved. The heart plays a major role in this feeling of breathlessness which is mostly to do with the lungs.
Bad breathing causes poor oxygenation. This is called hypoxia. It is an imbalance between the oxygen requirements of the tissues and supply. When hypoxia affects the muscles, it can lead to cramps and inflammatory lesions.
Underwater, breathing is always through the mouth. Full exhalation empties all the air from the lungs, making the inhalation that follows more efficient. When you’re breathing out, it lasts up to two or three times longer than breathing in.
The other thing that makes breathing in the water different is coordination between movements and breathing. Whether for breaststroke or front crawl, butterfly or backstroke, exhalation and inhalation must be synchronized with arm and leg movements.
Breathing has a big influence on:
– The Swimming technique
– Balance and alignment of the body in the water
– Propulsion and muscular effort
– Hydrodynamics and water resistance