View Full Version : Newbie breathing question

August 21st, 2003, 10:53 PM
Hello. I started swimming about a year ago at age 40, having never received any instruction. I am making an earnest effort to learn a decent front crawl. (I had an instructor for a short while, but he got in an accident and broke several important bones.) I am stuck on the breathing right now. My questions: Say you're breathing on the left side - where is your left hand at the instant that your mouth opens to take in a breath? At that same instant, is there any sense that your right hand is pushing up slightly to keep your head at a steady vertical level?

My problem is that when I lift my left arm out of the water I feel like my head wants to sink (so low that I am unable to breathe). So I have been compensating by either adding a little lift with my pulling arm (and therefore breathing too early, probably), or with the right arm as it begins its pull. Or I don't breathe at all and run out of oxygen entirely in one length.

I appreciate your advice. (N.B.: Tennis is not an option.)

August 22nd, 2003, 10:43 AM
I'm not a coach or an expert, but maybe this will help until someone better comes along... I would suggested reading the TI discussions, or other articles, where they discuss balancing in the water. When you have it right, you shouldn't have to push down with your hands. You might want to try the drills where you are kicking on your side, 1 arm out, the other at your side, and keeping your head in a position to breathe normally.

When I'm breathing, it is controlled by my body roll. I'm not sure where my hand is, because I'm breathing during most of my arm recovery.

Keep in mind, as long as the back of your throat is above the water line, you can breathe with your mouth partially submerged. If you are rotating around your long axis, you don't have to move your head much (or at all) to breathe. Are you lifting your head forward, or up, to breathe? Imagine that you are trying to breathe from your armpit. :cool: You only want to get your mouth above the water, not the rest of your head as well.

August 22nd, 2003, 12:27 PM
the way I do it, and my coach has never told me I'm doing it wrong but she has never said it was right/perfect... this is the best I can explain it... I turn my right ear toward the bottom of the pool, my right shoulder and hip have dipped down, I'm reaching out with my right hand--as long and streamlined as I can get, my left arm is over head I can see my arm in the air out of the corner of my eye and breathe...

Rob Copeland
August 22nd, 2003, 01:15 PM
My advice is if you are not already doing so, join a coached masters swim team. According to the USMS Places to Swim, there a number of programs in the Virginia Beach area. Any coach should be able to work with you to answer your breathing questions.

Without seeing your stroke it is hard to give specific advice, however, normally in freestyle your arm stroke shouldn’t be used to lift anything out of the water. So you should not be using your right arm to lift to breath. And for left breathers the hand is just exiting the water when the breath begins, but as important as where the hands are is what are the legs, hips torso and shoulders doing. These have more to do with your body position while breathing than the location of your hand. Again working with a coach is an excellent way to find drills and techniques to help fix these technical aspects of your stroke.