Hi! I'm Mark, creator of Swim Teach

What Happens When You Hold Your Breath and Why Is It Important To Know?

Published 3 months ago • 1 min read

Breath-holding is often an all too common-mistake when learning to swim. It can affect other parts of a swimmer's technique and prevent progress.

Hi, Mark here. I hope you've had a great week.

When it comes to breathing technique, whichever swimming stroke is being attempted, there are two common mistakes that many adults make.

  • Breath-holding
  • Breathing too late

What happens when you hold your breath?

Breath-holding is an unnatural act for a human being to carry out. That is why some people find it difficult and even stressful.

The human body has several responses to breath holding and other reactions to water submerging. How we deal with these responses determines how comfortable or uncomfortable we are and, therefore, what time we can spend underwater while holding our breath.

Firstly, the amount of air we can inhale into our lungs depends on the size of our lungs. A taller person will have larger lungs, filling them with more oxygen and remaining underwater for longer.

While holding our breath, oxygen in our lungs decreases as it is carried away in the bloodstream and used, and the amount of carbon dioxide increases. Carbon dioxide is a waste product, and when a certain level is reached, a signal is sent to the brain to tell you to breathe again.

Changes in heart rate occur whilst breath-holding, and the more relaxed a person is, the slower they consume oxygen and, therefore, the longer they can remain holding their breath.

Submerging under the water brings its stresses, especially for a beginner learning about the swimming breathing technique. The experience can be made more accessible by wearing goggles or a mask so that the eyes can remain open, giving the swimmer awareness of their surroundings and keeping them relaxed.

Click here to find out how to iron out these breathing mistakes.

Fix Breathing Technique For Each Stroke

Breathing technique for front crawl requires the head to roll to the side to inhale, in time with the arm pull action. Breaststroke breathing technique involves the head lifting up and facing forwards, which is similar to the breathing technique for butterfly stroke.

Click the link above to take you to my page about swimming breathing techniques, and scroll down to find links to information about the breathing technique for front crawl, breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly. Or just click here if you missed it!

That's it for this week. Stay focused, stay in touch and stay safe.

Happy swimming!



Swim Teach

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Hi! I'm Mark, creator of Swim Teach

I've been teaching swimming for over 30 years and I built Swim Teach so that I can share all my knowledge, wisdom and experience from the thousands of swimming lessons I have had the pleasure of teaching. Take a look back through my previous newsletters and see what you missed.

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