Rundown of Breathing Technique in Swimming

This page provides a summary of our articles that cover breathing technique in swimming. A first section explains basic swimming tips and exercises that you can experiment with. A second section details the breathing technique relevant to each swim stroke.

Close-up of a front crawl swimmer exhaling underwater

Good breathing technique is essential in all swim strokes

Contrary to other (dry land) sports, where breathing is unconstrained, the breathing technique in swimming requires that you breathe in and out at particular moments during the stroke cycle. You should also follow specific rules to maximize breathing efficiency without disrupting the rhythm of the stroke.

Along with other technical hurdles, this explains why breathing can take a while to master when you learn how to swim.

Breathing Tips and Exercises

The following articles give you tips and exercises to practice your breathing technique in swimming.

Basic Breathing Tips and Exercises: This article describes a few basic tips and exercises you can practice to get familiar with breathing in and under water.

Overcoming Fear of Water: Breathing in the water can be difficult to practice if you are afraid. This article proposes a sequence of exercises to get over this fear or at least to become more relaxed around and in the water.

Breathing Drills for the Freestyle Stroke: This article describes a sequence of drills you can use to learn how to breathe in the freestyle stroke.

Breathing Technique in the Various Swim Strokes

The following articles cover the breathing technique in detail for each swim stroke:

Freestyle Stroke Swimming Technique: Covers all aspects related to breathing while swimming freestyle. Explains how to breathe during the various stroke phases, when to use unilateral or bilateral breathing, and gives a few additional breathing tips.

Breaststroke Breathing Technique: Covers all aspects related to breathing in the breaststroke. Explains the advantages and shortcomings of keeping your head above the water surface or submerging your head as competitive swimmers do. Additional tips are also provided.

Backstroke Breathing Technique: Covers all aspects related to breathing while swimming backstroke. Explains why good balance is important and how to deal with splashing water. Different breathing patterns are also described.

Butterfly Stroke Breathing Technique: Covers all aspects related to breathing in the butterfly stroke. Explains when to inhale and when to exhale, how to blend breathing and non-breathing strokes, and why some butterfliers breathe sideways rather than forward.

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