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Tips for the swim with Boost Coaching

“It’s all in the head” Breathing and Sighting 101

The change of season provides a great opportunity to get back in the open water and focus on some key open water techniques with your swimming. So let’s take a look at one thing you can focus on which can provide additional benefit to many other areas of your swimming.


Head position for breathing

The head is such a key influence on the body position in the water so it is really important to control your head position when you breathe.

When you are breathing your head acts as the bow of a ship

DO ROLL your head to breathe you create a bow wave and you can breathe into the trough created alongside the head – like in this picture.

DON’T LIFT your head to breathe, this change in head position will influence the hips and legs in the water to usually be a lot lower and in fact you will actually have to lift your head higher to get a reasonable breath.

Coaches Tip:

“Over rotation of your head at breathing is often the major reason for swimmers going off course. The over-rotation pulls your shoulders around with your head taking your body in a new line usually skewed to the direction you have breathed. Without correcting this with sighting I have seen people do complete ‘U’ turn in their swimming direction without realising ”


Differentiate Sighting vs Breathing

Sighting is about ensuring you are heading along the correct course in the straightest possible line.

DO LOOK FORWARD to sight and scan in front of you for marker buoys and then adjust your course if you are not on target.

DO NOT BREATHE while you are looking forward if you have to lift your head higher you will drop your hips lower creating drag – it’s not as efficient for most swimmers. More advanced swimmers will kick harder if they lift their heads up to limit the drag component.

Coaches Tip:

The best way to coordinate these two actions is to firstly roll your head to the side to breathe and then roll your head to look forward after the breath to check your course.

“The cost of taking a poor line for weaker swimmers is quite significant as it takes a lot of time to get back on course and in many cases, they get off course again during this time” Breathe every 6-12 strokes


Faults & Corrections

– Look to the side, not the sky – aiming for one goggle in the water one out.

– Push your forehead down into the water and roll to the side as you breathe rather than lift your forehead up and away from the water.

– Breathe out the corner of your mouth – try not to take big gasping open mouth breathes

– Quickly return your head back into a neutral position in the water after you have taken a breath

– Do not breathe in and out while your mouth is out of the water you should exhale your breathe as you turn your head then simply breathe in once you are clear of the water


– If you are breathing correctly by rolling your head to breathe you will most likely be

– Decreasing the oxygen demand on your body as it takes less energy to roll your head to breath rather than to lift it up high

– Reduced frontal drag component as you will create a long streamlined body position at breathing rather than a banana-shaped body position.

– Reduced lower body drag as the legs and core won’t be pushed down as you try to lift your upper body up to take a breath. This can also result in an improved kick technique.

– Create better timing in the stroke, either by not requiring you to roll around so far for each breath and pausing in this high position by reducing the requirement to lift up high to breath which in return results in a large collapse after each breathing stroke

Good luck with your swimming any questions please feel free to reach out to us through the FREE Boost Coaching Facebook Group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/boostmyswim


If you’d like to know

The 4 key foundation steps you need to have to best develop your freestyle.

The key open water skills all on video that you need to practice

How to best leverage your training time in squads or on your own

Plus heaps more videos, resources, tips, training ideas and much, much more

Download Seven Secrets to Swimming Success at https://www.boostcoaching.co/seven-secrets


Andrew Mackay


+64 21 415 787