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The TBN #45-Stop Slowing Down: Fix This Mistake Now To Swim Faster!

Updated: 5 days ago

Read time: 3min.

By Coach Yan Busset

This Swimming Technique Mistake is Slowing You Down: Late Breathing and How to Fix It

A common, yet often overlooked, mistake in swimming technique among group swimmers and triathletes is not timing their breathing well within their stroke cycle. In this article, we will explore how to identify late breathing, understand its negative effects on your technique, and learn how to correct it.

In the first video below, you'll see what I mean by having late breathing timing. It's easy to spot. If your head is still turned to the side when your arm is directly above it, you're doing it wrong.

The Side Effects:

A primary issue is feeling like you don't have enough time to breathe properly. Fixing late breathing will help, but that's not all. Most of the time, this late breathing pattern causes your body to oscillate vertically. Ideally, you want your head level to remain steady, turning it to the side to breathe-in without moving up and down. The head acts as the rudder of your body, if it moves up and down, it causes the rest of your body to follow. 

For instance, when the head lifts, your legs are more likely to sink. You want to avoid vertical oscillation to stay horizontal and streamlined. 

Another, more subtle side effect can often be observed in your kicks. Late breathing causes your feet to spread apart as a way to seek balance and compensate for vertical oscillation. Your legs open, and many times, unless observed in a video of yourself swimming, you won't even notice it happening. 

When viewed underwater, as you swim towards the camera, you'll see your feet sticking out at some points, creating additional frontal resistance, its like pulling on the car's handbrake… You can imagine it will significantly slows you down.

How to Fix It?

The solution is simple: Start your breathing earlier in the stroke cycle so that you finish sooner. Simple, but it can sometimes take time to correct, as it's always challenging to undo bad habits. 

The best way I've found to explain the fix is to imagine an invisible link between the front hand and your head. So, as you start the stroke with your leading hand, you also start to turn your head sooner to breathe in. Using the catch and pull as support to turn your head will help maintain balance and stability. Goodbye oscillation, and  awkard feet spreading!

Get your coach or a training buddy to take a video of you while swimming. Let me know if you were also a victim of this underrated swim mistake and if this article helped you swim faster!


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