Our Swimming Tip Tuesday of the week: Your exhalation should be twice as long as your inhalation. A longer exhalation leads to a more relaxed exchange of air.
Breathing—it comes completely naturally to all of us. It is an activity that will function without interruption or conscious thought under the control of the autonomic nervous system. When necessary, we can assume conscious control in order to increase oxygen supply while under stress or in a fight/flight state of mind.
Your exhalation should be twice as long as your inhalation. A longer exhalation leads to a more relaxed exchange of air. Sustain this breathing pattern for a minute or two and your heart rate slows, your blood pressure drops, and your muscles begin to relax. The more you master this basic skill, the more effective your endurance swim will become. This activity can also be practiced on land.
When someone rotates from a nose-down balance position to a nose-up position—the first step in learning efficient breathing mechanics—they have difficulty completing the movement because they’re afraid they’ll inhale water instead of air. People respond to both fears the same: lifting their head abruptly so the nose and mouth will be at a “safer” distance from the surface. And the instant they do, precious balance and smoothness are lost.
It is important to be mindful of your capacity in this exercise. If you extend your exhalation farther than your capacity allows, your body will go into survival mode and reflexively gasp on the next inhalation. You’ll need to shorten your next breath slightly in order to compensate. One way to prevent yourself from overdoing here is to focus on creating a smooth transition between your in-breath and your out-breath, and back off a bit if you feel any urge to gasp for air.
Applies to butterfly, breaststroke, front crawl.
Want to learn more? Sign up on our website for personalized training with one of our instructors.