Freestyle - Open-Water Breathing

May 27, 2008
Freestyle - Open-Water Breathing

With summer and the open-water season fast approaching, here's a quick technique to help you get air in the chop, while not causing you any extra effort.

Why Do It:
When swimming in open water, there are a few ways to get air.... 

You can lift your head higher in the water as you site.

You can lift your head higher when you breathe -- like an out-of-balance breath,

Or you can rotate your body and head more so you're looking directly up.

The idea is to make sure your mouth is above water when you start to inhale, while not creating too much extra work when you do this.

How to Do It:
1.  Start by getting a feel for where you want to be during the breath.  To do this, practice balanced kicking on your side, face up.  Notice that in order to remain balanced in this position, your head and body spin farther than usual.  The good news is that it's easy to kick in this position.
2.  Now swim freestyle, pausing for only 3 breaths in your balanced kicking position.  Pausing for a few breaths here confirms that you're still balanced, moving forward, and getting air.
3.  Take out the pause, but continue to over-rotate just a bit, so that your eyes and mouth are pointing skyward.

How to Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
Make sure you practice this to both sides, and one trick is to look behind you just a bit during the breath. 

When you rotate this far to air, try to keep your rhythm consistent.  To do this, try leading to air with your head, almost having it push your shoulder out of the way.

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