As a swimmer, being able to hold your breath for longer periods of time can be a valuable skill. Holding your breath comes into play within each of the 4 swimming strokes. Whether you're diving off the starting block or swimming underwater during a race, the ability to hold your breath can give you an edge in the water.
Here are some tips to help you increase your breath-holding abilities as a swimmer.
Practice Diaphragmatic Breathing Before and After Swim Practices.
Practice diaphragmatic breathing before and after swim practices. This type of breathing involves using your diaphragm, rather than your chest, to breathe. To practice diaphragmatic breathing, lie on your back with your knees bent and place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Take a deep breath in through your nose, allowing your belly to rise as your diaphragm expands. Exhale through your mouth, allowing your belly to fall as you push the air out. This type of breathing can help you use less oxygen and increase your breath-holding time.
Breath Holding Drills
Incorporate breath-holding drills into your regular swim workouts. Try the "purge" technique before you hold your breath by exhaling as much air as possible. This can help to get rid of any excess carbon dioxide in your body, which can make it easier to hold your breath. Take a few slow, deep breaths to fully oxygenate your body before you hold your breath. Start by holding your breath for short periods of time and gradually increase the duration as you become more comfortable.
Relaxation is Key
Relax your body and mind while holding your breath. Tensing your muscles can use up more oxygen, so it's important to relax as much as possible when holding your breath. Try to clear your mind and focus on your breathing to help you hold your breath longer.
By following these tips and consistently practicing your breath-holding skills, you can improve your performance in the water and give yourself an edge during swim meets. Remember to always be safe and never hold your breath to the point of discomfort or pain. With practice and patience, you can learn to hold your breath longer and boost your overall respiratory fitness as a swimmer.
In addition to being able to hold your breath for longer, it's important you build your overall endurance as well. Check out our tips on how to increase your endurance and swim for longer with less effort!
Masters of the Craft
The best examples of people who have mastered breath holding are freedivers. Freediving is an extreme activity in which divers swim to very deep depths without the aid of a breathing device or oxygen supply. It takes years of intense hypoxic training and can be extremely dangerous if not executed properly. Freedivers push the limits on human breath holding and set the standard for what the human body is capable of.
To read about the unique experience of freediving from a freediver herself, click here