2 Drills to Work on Your Freestyle Breathing

3 Stroke Kick on Side Drill

Push off from the wall and rotate your body with the left side facing the bottom of the pool. Extend your left arm and place your left ear on your shoulder. Your eyes are looking toward the bottom of the pool and slightly forward.

Keep your right arm at your side with your fingers pointing toward your feet. Kick 6 to 8 times then take three smooth freestyle strokes starting with your left arm and fully exhale underwater during the three strokes. Take a deep breath on your third stroke and stay on your right side for 6 to 8 kicks and repeat.

Focus on your breathing first to stay relaxed. By teaching yourself to stay relaxed you will be able to swim stronger longer.

To get the most out of these drills it's usually best to use a set of short fins to help propel you through the water. Once you are comfortable breathing during each drill then shift your focus to improving your stroke technique and body position in the water.

More: Busy Pool? Lap Swim Etiquette for Sharing Lanes

Breathing On Both Sides

As you probably noticed both of the drills above teach you to breathe on either side. Why? Because being comfortable breathing to either side can make or break your day.

Breathing on each side teaches you to take more balanced strokes and allows you to switch comfortably as the situation requires. This is especially helpful when swimming in the open water where you need to sight buoys and often have to avoid getting a mouthful of water from waves or other swimmers. The bottom line: it's a handy survival skill in the chaos of swim starts.

If your goal is to become a better swimmer faster then build your swim technique on a foundation of comfortable, relaxed breathing. This simple—and often overlooked—training tactic can deliver a marked improvement in your swim times, and do wonders for taming stress and panic come race day.

More: 8 Tips for Open Water Swimming Newbies

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