Advanced Breathing Techniques
Last month we looked at the foundation of our learn-to-swim program, the Up-Face breathing cycle. This month, we’re covering the more advanced breathing techniques we teach to our Level 4 and Gold Plus students.
One thing that sets LPB apart from pretty much every other swim school and learn-to-swim curriculum out there is that we don’t blow bubbles, at least, not at first.
Once good breath control is mastered and students are successful, comfortable and confident with their Up-Faces, we begin working on more advanced breathing techniques. Specifically, we introduce side breathing for freestyle and a “sneaky breath” for breaststroke and butterfly. Both of these breathing styles employ what we have termed “blended breathing.” Blended Breathing is where a swimmer will exhale into the water (ie, blow bubbles) and inhale out of the water. This is a more efficient method of breathing for these more advanced strokes.
We introduce blended breathing much the same way we introduce all of our skills - with fun! We start with bobbing so that students can develop a rhythm to their inhalations and exhalations. Then, as students begin Level 4, we have them work on side-kicks with blended breathing using a kickboard for support. This foundation layer helps build the correct muscle memory for freestyle both with their breathing and with the all-important head positioning (ear on the upper arm).
A “sneaky” breath is when students take that blended breathing concept and face it forward for butterfly and breaststroke. Visualizing the breath as a quick, sneaky inhalation helps students understand that they should not be lifting their head completely out of the water, but instead just barely clear the surface for a quick breath. Again, blended breathing comes into play here. When students exhale into the water before taking a sneaky breath, they can be faster and more efficient with the timing of their strokes.