Breathing While Swimming: Basic Tips and Exercises

When you start to learn how to swim, breathing while swimming in a relaxed fashion can be difficult because there are unconscious fears such as getting water in your lungs or drowning that can manifest themselves.

However, it is important to master breathing while swimming so that you can relax, swim with correct technique and ensure that your body's oxygen needs are met.

Basic Breathing Tips

The first tip for easy breathing is to wear swimming goggles. Without goggles, water comes in contact with the eyes, which causes additional distress and practically renders us blind in the water.

Wearing swim goggles ensures that we have one thing less to worry about when we learn to swim. This allows the beginner to better concentrate and to learn correct breathing technique quicker.

The second tip is that the inhale above the water should be quick.

Finally, the exhale should always occur in the water, except obviously for the backstroke. The exhale should be continuous, the lungs should be nearly empty when you rotate or lift the head to breathe again. You should not hold your breath underwater.

Basic Breathing Drills

We will now show you some basic drills that you can use to familiarize yourself with breathing in the water. Remember, wear swim goggles even while doing these basic drills!

Drill #1: In shallow water, hold your breath, then crouch down so that your head gets under water. Hold for some seconds, then come back up.

Drill #2: Same as drill #1, but exhale under water through the nose so that you blow bubbles.

Drill #3: Same as drill #2, except that you now blow bubbles both out of your nose and your mouth.

Drill #4: In shallow water, crouch so that the water surface is between you nose and your mouth. Now practice inhaling through the nose above water and exhaling through the mouth under water.

Drill #5: In shallow water, submerge your face and blow bubbles out of the mouth, nose, or both. Then grab the border of the pool and try to get into a horizontal position face down while still blowing air out of the mouth and nose.

Drill #6: Still in shallow water, bob so that your head rhythmically goes in and out of the water. Exhale while your head is submerged and inhale while your head is emerged. This teaches you rhythmic breathing which you will need when learning the swimming strokes.


You now know the basics about breathing while swimming. You also have familiarized yourself with exhaling in the water.

You may now go to the swimming and breathing tips for the four strokes and freestyle breathing swimming drills pages.


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