Improving exhalation technique
So last week one of our coached athletes asked me why and what the benefit was of the swim set I had set them, great question so this was my response:- A bit of info on 3-5-7 etc breathing to help, hopefully this will help explain why its important and what to do ready for next time we do the set, also when you come over for a swimming session we can practise this together in the pool to check all is good, swimming has many components and some swimmers struggle with their breathing when swimming freestyle, feeling short of breath and in some cases desperate for air 3-5-7-9 or 2-4-6-8 drill, will help your breathing technique become more effective. It doesn’t matter what speed you are swimming at currently this drill can make a surprising difference so give it a try and don’t worry if you cannot get to the 5 or 7’s or the 4 or 6’s.
Breathing 3-5-7-9 or 2-4-6-8
Push off from the wall and swim freestyle at a steady pace, taking your first breath after three strokes. Then take three more strokes before breathing again and then three more before breathing do this for 25 meters take 10 secs rest before you start the next 25m. Then push off from the wall and swim freestyle at a steady pace, taking your first breath after five strokes continue breathing every 5 strokes, on the next 25 meters breath every 7 strokes again with 10 secs rest between the 25m, over time this can be extend from 25m to 50m and then to 75m and to 100m etc etc. This shouldn’t be forced, relax into your exhalation as if you are sighing into the water.
Don’t think of the five and seven as longer to hold your breath, instead turn the psychology around and think of it as giving you longer to breathe, specifically longer to exhale!
This exercise is a very powerful way to develop a good exhalation technique because it demonstrates how much air you have in your lungs and how it feels to exhale properly (during the five and seven).
The magic happens when returning to breathing every three or two strokes, suddenly it feels much easier and more relaxed because you have improved your exhalation during the 3-5-7.
If you struggle to breathe 3-5-7 try using a pull buoy to give you some extra support and reduce the oxygen demand from your kick.
Why do we want to Improve our exhalation technique ?
It rids the lungs and blood stream of CO2, the build-up of which is what leads to feelings of tension or even panic. Blow the CO2 out into the water and your swimming will feel much more relaxed.
It makes swimming more aerobic by improving the gas exchange in your lungs.
It means that when you do go to breathe you only have to inhale, not exhale and inhale in the short window available to you.
It reduces the buoyancy in your chest which helps keep your buoyancy balanced, bringing your legs up higher towards the surface.
Exhaling into the water sounds very basic but it’s important for good swimming technique. Try holding your breath for a few seconds whilst running or cycling and see just how bad it feels!