How to Breathe During Breaststroke

Last Updated on August 1st, 2023

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Breathing during a breaststroke can be incredibly difficult, especially for those not fully confident in the water. It involves keeping your mouth close to the water instead of fully coming up to get air. 

To breathe in the breaststroke properly, you must be able to fully perform your in-sweep so that your body has the momentum it needs to propel your head out of the water so you can get your breath quickly and with minimal resistance. 

Keep reading to learn the best way to breathe during your breaststroke and some tips to help you get that breathing down right. 


How to Properly Breathe in Breaststroke?

The most important part of breathing in the breaststroke is to remember to exhale the phase before. Many inexperienced swimmers will try to breathe out and in during the breathing phase of the stroke. 

While this is sometimes a valid move during actual competitions, it wastes a lot of energy for the most part. This means it isn’t a great idea for people looking to swim recreationally or for those who are trying to do longer distances. 

Instead, you should breathe out during the in-sweep, which is the phase before the breathing phase. This gives you more time to breathe in. Breathing in should be fairly easy, as your head will naturally lift above the water if you are doing the sweep properly. 

Don’t allow your head to go much higher than it needs to for you to get your breath, or you will increase your resistance, and you will begin to slow down. 


How Often Should You Breathe During Breaststroke?

Unlike other strokes, you will breathe with every stroke during the breaststroke. For other swims, waiting for every second or third stroke is recommended. However, with a breaststroke, you should instead do it every time.

While some swimmers can make it every other time without having to go up for air, this can be very tiring and may make their strokes uneven. 

Also, your head will naturally pop up out of the water when it is the breathing stroke, so it is simply easier to go ahead and take a breath. 


Should the Breaststroke Alternate Breathing Sides?

For most swimming strokes, the answer is yes. Alternating breathing is a recommended swimming technique. However, with the breaststroke, the breathing style isn’t quite the same. 

Instead of tilting your head either way to breathe, your head actually naturally rises during the breathing phase of the stroke. As a result, your head and your shoulders should almost be level. 

Many new swimmers find it hard not to lift their heads during this stroke to breathe. However, that can cause neck and lower back injuries after repeated use. 

Instead, with your neck and shoulders lifted together, your chin should just be out of the water, and you should be facing down in the water. 


Tips for Improving Breathing During Breaststroke


Tip 1: breath out before exiting the water

As we mentioned above, a lot of new swimmers try to breathe out and breathe in at the same time. This leads to a lot of wasted energy and the inability to get a full breath easily. 

Instead, you will want to breathe out while underwater in the stroke before so that you are ready to take a big breath when you come out of the water. 

There are drills to help you practice exhaling while in the water if you find yourself unable to grasp the process well. 


Tip 2: don’t lift your head above your shoulders

Usually, we want to be able to lift our heads fully out of the water when we are swimming. However, with most professional swimming strokes, that isn’t the case. 

With the breaststroke, your head is fully leaving the water. However, you are not looking up during this process. Instead, you are tilting your head up a little while facing down into the water. 

You will want to start breathing in the right as your chin exits the water for the best chance of getting a good breath. 

Again, this is difficult to do sometimes, as it feels like you are going to suck in the air. Thankfully there are drills to perform to help you practice this part of breathing as well. 


Tip 3: Make sure you nail you’re in a sweep

The in-sweep is powered by the force that allows you to naturally get your head out of the water during the breathing stroke. This sweep provides you with the most propulsion and also allows you to waste less energy and time getting up out of the water to get a breath. 

If you are unable to perform this in the sweep phase well, then you may find yourself struggling to be out of the water long enough to get a deep breath. 

If this is the case, practice and perform drills for the sweep phase. This phase focuses mostly on arm movement and grabbing the water around you to provide a force to move you through the water. 

Once you get the hang of this in sweep movements, you will likely find that it is much easier to get the breathing phase right. 

Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. Swim strokes operate in cycles. So to get one phase right, you have to get the phase before it is correct. That means you must understand each phase of the swim to ensure you get the breathing portion right. 


Final Thoughts on How to Breathe During Breaststroke

Breathing during the breaststroke can be hard to do. It depends a lot on your confidence in the water as well as your ability to perform the phase before the breathing phase without any problems. 

While practicing drills can make a huge difference, there are also some tricks and tips you can use to let you get the hang of it. In no time, you’ll have mastered the breathing portion of the breaststroke and feel confident while doing so.