View Full Version : How do you breathe?

March 9th, 2013, 06:09 PM
There are perennial discussions here about breathing. They typically focus on bilateral vs. one sided breathing, or hypoxic vs. getting all the air you can. I'd like to change the discussion just a smidgen.

Time was when I didn't think at all about how I breathed. Air came in, air went out. I've lately been thinking about breathing more consciously using my diaphragm though, and less with my rib cage. I realize that since your arms are flailing about in one form or another, there will be lots of rib cage activity, whether you're breathing or not. Still, I had this notion that if I could breathe a bit more with my diaphragm I might just change my center of gravity ever so slightly, and perhaps help me swim a bit more level.

I tried it a bit, but didn't really notice a difference, until... I tried it doing breaststroke kick without a board. (I don't like kicking br with a board, because my legs sink enough as it is.) For me, if I kick br without a board I often find it kind of hard to get my chest down when in my streamline, and my back and shoulders seem to be the first things to pop up. When I breathe more with my diaphragm, it's much easier to hold that streamline underwater.

That all said, I'm not really a breaststroker, so I may well have some serious stroke flaw that this change is helping me work around. I was wondering if other people have consciously practiced more diaphragmatic breathing ("yoga breathing", if you will), and whether or not they feel it's helped their swimming. Also, if you've tried it, does it seem to be stroke-specific, or does it help you in all strokes? Or does it not help you at all?


March 9th, 2013, 09:16 PM
I just gasp and gulp :D

March 10th, 2013, 08:03 AM
Prioritize breathing and I naturally break streamline. I focus on short events so I need to keep streamlined breathing in check, specifically with drills. In certain workout conditions where more air is needed I will breathe up to 2 per cycle, but still prioritize form over inhale duration with small quantities of air each breath. The only time breathing becomes the priority, where all else goes out the window, would be finishing an event following a requested split within that event (ah, those can hurt).

In my response to your question (other than being in a completely air deprived condition), no, there is never a case for me where a diaphragmatic breath can mechanically help my body position.

There are cases of the exact opposite where breathing seems to have no negative effect on streamline and speed - Sun Yang. But he is almost 7' tall, being a huge aquatic vessle a slight bend to inhale through a convienient trough

March 10th, 2013, 12:18 PM
I just gasp and gulp :D

Me too. But seriously, as far as breathing goes, I focus more on making sure I adequately exhale so that I can maximize my inhale. That said, I'm naturally a more diaphragmatic breather due to all my years in choir and band. So that's my default especially when I'm working hard.

March 10th, 2013, 12:48 PM
I don't do this often, but find when I think about and try to do Ujjayi (Yoga) breathing in a nice EZ swim it does two things: it really warms me up even as it relaxes me; and it does help with breath control on long aerobic sets (not so much gasping and gulping). The problem is you can't maintain that kind of breathing in anaerobic sets, events, because you're breathing too fast. Well, I shouldn't speak for everyone, but I certainly haven't figured out how to get that much breath control while doing the faster stuff... sometimes, if I'm racing someone in practice I'll say "oh, screw it, I'll breathe when I get to the wall... but I'm not going to break form now!".

March 10th, 2013, 02:57 PM
Regarding which side to breathe on - my main focus is on breathing on the top side, where the air is.

March 10th, 2013, 06:18 PM
Freestyle - Right, Right, Right, Right, Right, Right, Right, Left. The last two are my final two strokes into the wall.
Backstroke - whenever, usually each stroke cycle
Breaststroke - head up...breathe
Butterfly - try for 2 up, 1 down pattern in the 200, 100 is random, but leans more toward 2 down, 1 up, then 2 up, 1 down at the end.