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Looking for help - breathing while swimming

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After a few years without access to a pool, I've joined a gym with a wonderful lap pool and I'm excited to get back to swimming. One challenge I've always had with swimming that I want to overcome is breathing on both sides. I can breathe fine, with acceptable technique, to the right, but I absolutely cannot get the hang of breathing on my left side. It feels more difficult to turn my head far enough to the left, like my neck is a bit stuff turning that way. I can't seem to get comfortable, and as someone who came to swimming with a fear of the water/lack of oxygen, it's causing me anxiety in the water, enough so that sometimes, I end my swim early and exit the pool. 

 

I'm hoping someone can recommend some exercises I can do, or some way I can break down the process of learning to breathe to a side that doesn't come natural, but in small steps that won't kick up my anxiety. Thanks much!

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Defining   

It's not at all unusual for you to breathe on just the one side - some swimmers prefer it actually, it helps them go faster. Failing that, check what position you sleep in, which can affect your neck flexibility. And work on turning your head to the left while you're lying on the ground, gently pushing your chin to the floor to improve mobility. Alternatively, just use back stroke or breast stroke instead. KISS. ;)

 

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Syren   

Hello, 

 

Ideally, you would not turn your head at all when taking a breath. Instead, you would use the rotation of your body to breathe, maintaining the streamline of your body for the most effective movement. This takes a lot of practice, and is something that you have to think about as you swim. A couple of good drills for this are:

 

1. catch up drill - - > focus on slow, full arm extension with each stroke, keep your ears in line with your shoulder as much as possible and let your hips drive you forward into a roll for a breath. Start out with a breath each time you take a stroke per arm.  This can be made easier if you constantly exhale while your face is in the water and take it slow and easy. When this is super easy, start working on a three count. Try 6 x 25 yards or meters of these in your next workout. 

 

2. Kick rotation drill - - > no arms for this one. You really need to get a feel for your kick tempo and feel that hip rotation drive you. For this drill, you only breath if you can rotate your whole body to do so. If you have tried catch-up, do 4 x 50 of these 

 

3. Paddle on your head drill - - > you balance a hand paddle on your head while you swim. If the paddle falls off, you have lost your streamline stabilization. Once you can do a flip turn without losing the paddle, you should be great at your breathing pattern. You do not have to use a hand paddle. Any flat, smooth object about the size of your palm or a bit larger will work.  Once you have tried the other two strokes start with 4 x 25 of this one. 

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