Breathing while swimmingDo you have trouble breathing while swimming front crawl? Are you wondering why you get out of breath? And what is making the breathing part of swimming front crawl so difficult?

I’ve had some swimmers this week that are a bit frustrated with their swimming. They’ve spent a lot of time working on their stroke. Their technique is pretty good – but they still get out of breath  and are having trouble breathing while swimming.  Often they feel like they’re working harder than they need to.

If this is you here are some things to trouble shoot to see if they help

Comfort and relaxation in the water

If you have trouble breathing while swimming consider if you are you a bit tense or anxious in the water. If so work on becoming more relaxed. Try some breathing trickle breathing drills. Focus on blowing bubbles out of your nose and practice other skills to help improve your comfort and confidence.

Are you holding your breath?

Just spend some time swimming and noticing if you’re holding your breath or have a continuous trickle of bubbles out of your nose. Often breath holding causes problems with front crawl breathing and makes it feel harder than it needs. So simple blowing bubbles out of you nose often makes it feel better straight away.

Are you swimming too fast?

It’s totally counterintuitive but often in swimming moving your arms around slower makes you go faster.  This is because you become more streamlined. Try using a Finis Tempo Trainer to slow you down.

Are you pulling too hard?

Are you using too much strength in the catch? Pulling with a long of muscle and power? Propulsion in swimming comes from applying the exact amount of pressure, at the exact moment the other arm is entering, the body is rotating and the correct leg is giving leverage and balance. If you apply less pressure in your catch how does this save you energy?

Are you kicking too hard?

If you’re working your legs a lot and bending from the knee this will definitely tire your out and get you out of breath pretty quickly. Can you turn your legs off to a very gentle flutter kick. Even experiment with swimming without using your legs.  I find when a lot of clients do this and think they’re not kicking they still actually have a gentle flutter kick.

Consistency and Form

Maybe you have mastery over your stroke for a short distance.  But as you swim further and longer your technique starts to deteriorate and then you start getting out of breath. Work on building up short repeats with single focal points and laser like concentration. Keep practising skills until they become integrated in your stroke.

Strokes per length

Working with a tempo trainer and counting strokes per length will also help your concentration and to understand what happens to your stroke over short and longer distances.

Re-visit your technique

Check back in your technique and efficiency. Re-visit some balance and posture drills and make sure to keep practising drills and skills every time you swim.

More Tips

If you’re wondering if I could help you to learn front crawl then why not book a taster session here or if you have lots of questions then get in touch and book a FREE 15min Lets chat here.


I’m Penny and I’m a triathlete and wild swimmer with a passion for outdoor adventures. I’m a triathlon coach and Total Immersion Swimming Teacher and I help people feel more comfortable in the water so they can swim further, discover the joy of swimming or finish a triathlon without feeling exhausted.