Breathing Mechanics That Will Help Your Freestyle

LEG LUBE: Richard Quick, the six-time U.S. Olympic team coach who directed 12 teams to NCAA titles, once said while giving a butterfly stroke clinic: “Don’t hide your breathing mistakes by not breathing; fix them instead.” That’s good advice, not only for butterfly, but for freestyle as well.

About 30 years ago, “hypoxic training” came into vogue. The idea was that by restricting breathing frequency—breathing every five, seven or nine freestyle strokes—swimmers might simulate the effects of high-altitude training at sea level. Researchers long ago debunked the idea that breath-holding produces any physiological adaptation, but “hypoxic” sets are still popular, in part to help swimmers adjust to the discomfort produced when you reduce breathing frequency.

One reason for making that adjustment is the very real concern that in a sprint race, breathing can slow a swimmer down. If each breath might cost you slightly in stroke efficiency, the less of them you take, the faster you might go. Holding your breath—perhaps breathing only twice or less—in a 50-yard freestyle undoubtedly helps your speed, particularly because that race is short enough that your muscles mainly consume oxygen already in your bloodstream.

But what about breathing over a longer period of time? Read the whole article at:


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