If you didn’t grow up swimming or if you’re like me and still relatively new to it, breathing comfortably in the water can seem like an almost impossible task; however, it is possible. Controlled breathing isn’t something that’s reserved only for high level swimmers. You, too, can learn to breathe comfortably in the water.
Let me start off by saying I’m not a swim coach. I didn’t learn to swim until I was 39 years old. So, I’m speaking from my own personal experience. When I say ‘I couldn’t swim,’ I am not kidding. I would hyperventilate when I put my face in the water. In eight short (sometimes trying) months, I went from not being able to swim to actually enjoying the rhythm of a long, slow and relaxed swim. So how did I do it? How did I learn how to control my breathing? I relaxed into it. I made my swimming sessions about enjoying the moment and controlling my breathing. I called this new style of swimming, ‘Just be.’
Six steps to breathing freedom
1) Leave your ego at the door. Don’t worry about what others will think of your swimming technique or speed. Don’t try to keep up with your girlfriends! This is about you, not them.
2) Slow down. Yes, speed training has its time and place, but not now. Get your breathing down and then you can add speed later.
3) Think glide. When you take longer strokes, allowing yourself to glide through the water, you will have more time to take your next breath.
4) Blow it out slowly. Blow out your air at a normal pace. Do not blow it out all at once, which will leave you gasping for your next breath.
5) Just Be. Relax and be in the moment. A tight, stiff body uses up more energy. When learning to swim I would say this mantra to myself over and over, ‘Relax into it, let the water do all the work. Just…. be.’ By focusing on the mantra, I stopped panic swimming to get to the other side of the pool. Instead, I allowed myself to trust and enjoy the water. This made taking longer strokes easier and breathing became more natural and relaxed.
6) Do slide (glide) drills. The drill shown in the link http://youtu.be/TwUHpO_WRIg took me from a panicked mess to breathing effortlessly in the pool, no matter the length of my swim.
I did it; so can you. You’ve got this!