If you're quite new to swimming freestyle, you might well struggle with your breathing. You might be taking on water when you try to breathe or feel desperately out of breath and have to stop for a rest at the end of each length.
Don't worry that's perfectly normal, here are two quick tips to help:
The One-Two-Stretch Mantra
One of the biggest causes of breathing problems is if your lead arm is collapsing down into the water as you breathe, as we see with Clare's stroke here:
As you start to take a breath, your lead arm should still be out in front supporting you. If it sinks down in the water with little purchase then your mouth will sink below the surface and you'll take on water.
At this point of the stroke you're naturally thinking 'give me that air' and nothing else! The key is to let your breath take care of itself and keep your focus on the support of the lead arm instead instead.
To help with this, try repeating this mantra to yourself: 1-2-Stretch-1-2-Stretch where the 1 and 2 are on normal strokes and the stretch is on a breathing stroke, reminding you to keep that lead arm stretched forward for support.
If you have a tendency to pause and over-glide in your stroke then be wary of leaving this arm stationary for too long or you risk stalling. Just stretch and feel like the focus is on that lead arm and not on breathing in.
If you found this tip helped your breathing then take a look at our Bambino Swim Type and see if it rings any bells with your stroke. The Bambino Stroke Correction Guide (here) will give you plenty more tips to improve your swimming, all tailored to your specific stroke style!
Our second tip is to remember to angle your mouth to the side as Paul is demonstrating here:
This looks a bit like Popeye chewing his spinach, which is where the technique gains its name from. Breathing in this way helps you keep your head lower without taking on water, which is important as lifting the head too far causes your legs to sink downwards.
Any Swim Type can benefit from Popeye breathing but particularly those new to swimming.