View Full Version : Rolling Body To Breathe

April 28th, 2003, 03:15 PM
I have been so happy being able to come here and get advice. Because of the wonderful people here I am happy to announce that I can now swim (faster than my 9 year old nephew). My problem that I face now is being able to roll my body so that I can properly take a breath. I am desperately trying, but it seems I just can't get my body to roll enough. Does anyone have any suggestions for me?

April 28th, 2003, 04:13 PM
That's a little harder for anyone to help fix, since we can't see you doing it. However, a couple of things occur to me.

First, I've watched some of the adult swim classes at my Y, and I've noticed that some of the swimmers think they have to roll WAAAY over and look at the ceiling to breathe. All you really have to do is get your mouth above the water line. They're trying too hard. It's scary to try to breathe with your mouth that close to the water, because a stray wave could come along and waterlog you. You'll learn, with time, how to find the right spot and how to avoid swallowing (or breathing in) the water if you get splashed. It just takes practice.

But the other thing I notice (and it often compounds with the first observation, and vice versa) is that many novice swimmers think they're just rolling to the side, when in reality they lift their heads first. When you're first learning to swim, rolling to the side feels unnatural. It feels a lot more natural at first to lift your head straight up and then turn your head.

Also, turning your head to the side will often allow water to roll into your ears, creating a sensation that some people find unpleasant. Some people have an urge to lift their heads straight up first to clear the water out of their ears. If you find yourself having trouble keeping your body in line when you roll, ask yourself if you're afraid of water in your ears. Water in the ears is something that comes with swimming, and you'll get used to it. Don't fear it.

Whatever the reason you might do it, what happens when you lift your head first is that your butt and legs sink. Then you're all out of position for forward motion, so that when you turn to breathe nothing's in the right place. With your head up (actually back, in relation to your spine), your spinal column is all twisty and doesn't want to turn to the side any more. Your arms will be in the wrong place, making it where you have to lift them higher in relation to your spine to follow through with the stroke and thus more difficult and clumsy. Even a little flick upward of the head can throw off your stroke.

Make sure you're keeping your head straight in line with your body when you turn and not "looking" up first before you breathe. Then make sure you aren't trying to turn too far to get that breath. Maybe that will help, but as I said it's hard to tell from printed words.

April 28th, 2003, 08:04 PM
I actually don't know if this is correct or not, but my coach has never told me I was breathing incorrectly so.... I simply turn my head so my ear is pointing toward the bottom of the pool. Maybe, to get the feel of turning your head, you could practice turning your head by standing in chest deep water (hold on to the side of the pool if you need to). Put your face in the water and turn your head side to side like you were saying "no," but do it slowly because when you swim you will have to time the turning of your head with your stroke... 1, 2, 3 breathe, 1, 2, 3 breathe on the other side. Also as soon as your face returns to the water start blowing bubbles (exhale) until you mouth clears the water on the other side.

Matt S
April 29th, 2003, 11:37 AM

Shakey and Lainey have given you some good advice. I'd also recommend to you several fine articles by a number of well respected Masters coaches. Please note they talk about a lot more than just breathing, if you are interested in working on your whole stroke. They are posted on this web site at http://www.usms.org/training/technique.htm.