Swimming, like all exercise, requires plenty of oxygen in your body to keep you from fainting. You should never Hold your Breath while you are swimming, as it could cause you to black out or drown. Instead, learning how to breathe properly while you swim can help you exercise safely and more effectively. You can also do special exercises to increase your lung capacity. To see if your hard work is paying off, try a sinking exercise in the pool to practice exhaling underwater.
EditControlling Your Breathing while Swimming
- Relax before and during your swim. A relaxed face and body muscles will help you hold more breath and breathe more effectively. Before you swim, loosen your limbs by shaking them out. Avoid clenching your teeth or jaw while swimming.
- Hyperventilation is the practice of taking several quick breaths before you get in the water. Hyperventilation does not help you hold your breath. In fact, it can cause you to lose oxygen more quickly and black out.
- Inhale deeply before you start swimming. Take a long, deep breath from the bottom of your lungs. Your belly, not your chest or shoulders, should expand with the breath. Once you have a full inhalation, start swimming.
- Exhale slowly as your face enters the water. You can breathe out through your mouth or your nose. Bubbles could rise up to the surface in a steady stream. Continue to exhale until you begin to pull up out of the water. Each exhale should be twice as long as your inhalation.
- Come up to the surface when you need to inhale again. Let your mouth and nose break from the surface of the water. Inhale using your mouth. Your inhalation should only be half as long as your exhalation.
- For some strokes, such as freestyle, you should turn your face to the side to take in a breath. Alternate which side you breathe on.
- For strokes like the butterfly or breaststroke, you should inhale by lifting your head up above your arms until your nose and mouth break the surface of the water.
EditPracticing to Hold Your Breath Longer
- Practice holding your breath outside of the water. Breathing exercises can help expand your lung capacity. Practice in a comfortable, safe space, just in case you start to feel lightheaded. A bed or couch are ideal places to practice.
- It is a good idea to have someone else nearby, just in case you feel faint.
- Push out air from your lungs to increase lung capacity. Stand up and bend over. Inhale deeply before trying to hold your breath for up to 20 seconds. As you hold your breath, raise your arms up over your head. When you can no longer hold your breath, exhale while lowering your arms.
- Repeat this exercise up to 4 times every day.
- Do pursed lip breathing to strengthen your diaphragm. Breathe in deeply through your nose, filling the bottom of your lungs. Purse your lips and slowly exhale through your mouth. Your exhalation should be twice as long as your inhalation.
- Spend about 5 minutes a day doing this exercise.
- Sing to expand your lung capacity. Singing in your free time can strengthen your diaphragm. Try singing songs that require you to hold long notes or hit high notes. This will help increase how much air you can store in your lungs.
- Try to have at least 1 singing session a day. You can do it while you cook, clean, or take a shower.
EditHolding Your Breath while Sinking Underwater
- Inhale deeply from the bottom of your lungs. Count to 10 or 20 seconds as you inhale. As you breathe, your belly should expand. If it does, you are reaching the deepest part of your lungs. If your chest and shoulders move, you are breathing from the top part of your lungs.
- Avoid hyperventilation, which is the practice of taking quick, small breaths before you submerge yourself. This practice can increase your chances of blacking out.
- If inhaling for 10 seconds is too much, start out by taking in as much breath as you can. Each time you do it, try to inhale for a second longer.
- Submerge yourself in the water at the top of the inhalation. Once you can no longer take in any more breath, dive underwater or otherwise submerge yourself.
- Exhale while you are underwater. Holding your breath while underwater may cause you to blackout. Instead, slowly exhale through your mouth or nose while you are underwater. As you exhale, you should be pushing out a constant stream of bubbles from your nose or mouth. Exhaling will not cause water to enter your nose or mouth.
- Sink to the bottom of the pool to see if you are exhaling properly. If you exhale properly, your body will sink to the bottom. If you are not, your body will rise to the surface. As you get better at this exercise, try sitting on the bottom of the pool until you need air.
- Rise back up as soon as you feel the urge to breathe. Unless you are an experienced free diver, you should not stay underwater for too long. If you do, you might black out or drown. Instead, come back up for air once your exhalation is over or you feel the need to breathe.
- Always swim and dive with other people watching, just in case you have a problem in the water. This is especially important when you are holding your breath.
- Never hold your breath entirely while you are swimming. This can cause you to black out, drown, or become light-headed.
- Hyperventilation (or the practice of taking quick, shallow breaths before submerging yourself) will not help you hold your breath. It can increase your chances of blacking out or drowning.