Swimming Breathing Drills to Improve Your Technique and Lung Capacity

pace clock for swimming breathing drills

Do you ever feel like you’re gasping for air after a few laps while others glide effortlessly through the water? Smooth, efficient breathing is the secret weapon of any strong swimmer. But it’s not just about taking a deep breath – mastering your technique and building lung capacity are crucial for a truly enjoyable and effective swim. What’s the key? Swimming breathing drills.

Conquer the Fundamentals: Mastering Breathing Technique

Smooth, efficient breathing is the cornerstone of effortless swimming. Mastering your technique requires understanding breathing mechanics, choosing the right breathing style for your comfort and effectiveness, and coordinating it seamlessly with your strokes.

The Anatomy of a Breath:

  • The Diaphragm: This dome-shaped muscle separates your chest cavity from your abdomen and plays a crucial role in breathing. When you inhale, the diaphragm contracts, pulling your ribs downward and expanding your lungs to create space for more air.
  • Engaging Your Diaphragm:
    • Breathe through your nose, feeling your belly expand as you inhale and retract as you exhale. This ensures deeper and more efficient use of your lung capacity.
    • Outside the pool, try lying on your back with one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. As you inhale, feel your stomach rise, and your chest remains relatively still. This reinforces diaphragmatic breathing.

Bilateral vs. Unilateral Breathing:

  • Bilateral Breathing: Inhaling and exhaling on both sides of your body is the most common technique, offering a more balanced and symmetrical breathing pattern.
  • Unilateral Breathing: Inhaling on one side and exhaling on the other while rotating your head is often used in specific strokes like freestyle.
  • Find What Works:
    • Try each technique and see what feels more comfortable and allows you to maintain a consistent rhythm with your stroke.
    • Bilateral breathing offers better overall balance, while unilateral breathing can be helpful when aiming for high-speed turns in freestyle.

Remember, consistency is key. Practice these techniques regularly, and you’ll soon find yourself breathing effortlessly and swimming with greater efficiency and confidence.

Best Swimming Breathing Drills to Master Your Technique

Here’s a list of drills to improve swimming breathing technique and lung capacity:

  1. Breathing Patterns Drill: Practice bilateral breathing (breathing to both sides) by swimming lengths while alternating your breathing every three, five, or seven strokes. This helps develop balanced breathing and enhances lung capacity.
  2. Bubble-Blowing Drill: Swim while exhaling steadily through your nose and mouth underwater. This drill helps improve breath control and encourages consistent exhalation, essential for efficient breathing while swimming.
  3. Kickboard Breathing Drill: Hold a kickboard out before you and practice breathing to the side while maintaining a steady kick. This drill isolates breathing techniques and helps you focus on proper head position and body alignment while breathing.
  4. Underwater Streamline Drill: Push off the wall and streamline underwater as far as possible, focusing on slow and controlled exhales. This drill helps increase lung capacity and teaches you to exhale fully before taking your next breath.
  5. Interval Training: Incorporate interval training into your swim sessions, alternating between periods of high-intensity swimming and rest. This training challenges your cardiovascular system and helps increase lung capacity over time.
  6. Hypoxic Sets: Perform sets where you intentionally limit your breathing, such as swimming lengths while taking only every fourth stroke or holding your breath for a set distance underwater. These sets help improve breath control and train your body to become more efficient with oxygen.
  7. Paced Breathing Sets: Swim lengths while focusing on rhythmic breathing, taking slow, deep breaths in sync with your strokes. Experiment with different breathing patterns to find what works best for you and helps you maintain a steady pace throughout your swim.
  8. Drills with Fins: Incorporate fins into your drills to increase resistance and challenge your lung capacity. Fins can help you swim faster, allowing you to focus more on your breathing technique without worrying about maintaining speed.
  9. Pulling Sets: Use a pull buoy to isolate your upper body and arms while swimming lengths. This allows you to focus more on your breathing technique and lung capacity without the distraction of kicking.
  10. Cooldowns with Active Recovery: Finish your swim sessions with cooldowns that include manageable, relaxed swimming combined with active recovery drills like sculling or floating on your back. This helps your body recover while still maintaining focus on your breathing technique.

Incorporate these drills into your regular swim workouts to gradually improve your breathing technique and lung capacity over time. Remember to focus on proper form and technique, and be patient with yourself as you progress toward your swimming goals.

The Unexpected Ally: How a Swim Clock Can Elevate Your Technique

Often overlooked, a swim clock can be a surprising ally in your quest for improved breathing techniques. Here’s how:

  • Mastering Rhythm and Consistency: A swim clock provides a visual cue that helps you maintain a consistent pace, which translates directly to a consistent breathing pattern. This rhythm becomes ingrained over time, leading to more efficient and controlled breathing throughout your swim.
  • Tracking Progress and Setting Goals: By monitoring your time per lap or interval, you can track your progress in terms of breath control and efficiency. This allows you to set achievable goals, like gradually decreasing your breathing frequency or increasing the distance you can swim comfortably on a single exhale.
  • Beyond the Pool: The awareness of your breathing rhythm and the ability to maintain it under pressure, honed through swim clock practice, can transcend the pool and benefit other areas of your life. From managing stress to improving public speaking, controlled breathing plays a crucial role in overall well-being.

So, next time you head to the pool, consider the power of a simple swim clock. It can be a valuable tool in your journey to becoming a smoother, stronger, and more confident swimmer.

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