As a beginner triathlete swimmer, I’ve had more than my share of water up my nose. So much so, now they start refilling the pool as soon as I show up for a workout. But the worst part is when all that water comes pouring out of my nose in a steady stream a few hours after the fact. It’s hard to explain to others, but if you’re a triathlete you’ll get it completely.
Well, I finally figured out I could avoid water up the nose – or drinking pool water for that matter – by learning how to breath. (Hah, “learning how to breath” sounds funny.)
What we are going for in the Begin Swim Boot Camp is comfort and sustainability with your swimming. And here’s the key to that: If you get enough air you’ll feel comfortable and not panicky. And if you’re getting enough oxygen, you’ll be able to continue swimming the full distance without stopping – definitely a must for your sprint triathlon.
Don’t mess with my oxygen! The thing about swim breathing is if you got it, you’re good. If not, life in the water will suck!
The other thing about breathing is, if you don’t get it right, it can easily cause other problems such as poor body position, crossover arm strokes, and scissor kicks (a wide kick that causes too much drag – I’m guilty there!).
Chances are you want to breath air, rather than suck water, but the problem is your face is under water most of the time.
Enter rhythm and timing.
If you have any rhythm you’ll be fine, and the tighter you’re rhythm, the better your breathing.
Freestyle Breathing Basics for Triathletes
Smooth and steady exhale underwater. Hum if this will help. You have to relax to this, which is good, too.
Along with a smooth and steady exhale, my personal trick is to save the last little bit of air for out of the water. This clears the residual water out of my mouth and nose so I don’t suck it in when I take a quick breath.
Stay in streamline. What you don’t want to do is lift your head. Rather, think body rotation, and breathe to the side.
But don’t over-rotate, meaning, turn too high for a breath. I’m guilty of this because I always want to stay clear of the water. Turning too far throws off your balance and disrupts a good kick. Take your breath just above the waterline (in the gap of the little wake you’re making, actually).
Look back. To help with not lifting your head too high and/or over-rotating, look back toward your shoulder.
Find a rhythm! I think this my best tip, because it helped me so much…and it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3! At first, I found myself sinking at the same time I was to breath until I discovered that if I could time my arms right, I’d glide enough to get my breath. I mentally counted something like, “reach, pull, wait, now breath!” enough times until it finally came naturally.
For more tips on how to breathe easier when swimming, check out this post. And don’t give up! Keep swimming and once you find your breathing rhythm, you’ll be good to go!