Don't hold your breathe!
One of the common mistakes people make when swimming (especially in the open water) is forgetting to exhale in the water. Most people hold their breathe, than blow out at the last minute once the mouth is out of the water again.
Holding your breath underwater is bad for your swimming for many reasons including:
- Increases CO2 levels which may cause headaches, nausea, and blackouts
- Increases the buoyancy in your chest which lifts you up at the front and causes the hips and legs to sink which increases your drag through the water.
- When you hold your breathe your body tenses up, but when you breathe out your body stays relaxed
- Causes you to get out of breathe very quickly which may cause panic attacks and will make you feel exhausted.
What to do
When you take a breathe in and when your face goes back into the water, you should start blowing out your bubbles straight away. This is SO important. The aim is to have all the air exhaled from the lungs by the time you need to turn to take a breathe, that way when your mouth clears the water you can focus on breathing in fresh air. Last time I checked you cant breathe in and out at the same time!
Drills to Practice - Sink Downs
Sink Downs is a drill I get my athletes to do quite often. Head towards the deep end of the pool treading water in the vertical position. Once you pop your head under, start exhaling as hard as you can. If you are holding back, and not blowing out hard you wont sink to the bottom and more often than not just bob at the top of the water. You want to sink down to the bottom of the floor and stay there until you need to come up for air.
Its not often I see someone complete these correctly on the first go, so have fun with it and relax! Like with anything practice makes perfect!
Step 1. Once under water start blowing out hard and relax your body.
Step 2. Keep blowing out hard until you get to the bottom of the pool.
Step 3. If you do not have any air in your lungs you can sit on the bottom of the pool without rising up again. Just chill out down there until you need to resurface for air.
If you are really struggling you can use a step ladder to assist you.
If you don't get it the first time don't stress, I didn't either when I first started! But like anything practice makes perfect!
Take home message is to start Exhaling as soon as your face is in the water. You will notice huge improvements in your body position, level of exhaustion and you will feel much more relaxed when swimming.