Breath control, Exercises & Sets


Hypoxic training


Follow these steps to learn the correct and safe way to improve your breath holding without putting yourself at risk. Hold your breath for longer while swimming, there is no other way but to practice it in the pool while you’re swimming.

The result is an easier stroke without feeling the urge to breath at awkward or inconvenient times.

You will be more in control of your stroke.
For the best results watch the videos and read the following points.

*Dangers of this practice*

  • Shallow water black outs is an underwater “faint” due to a lack of oxygen to the brain brought on by holding your breathe for long periods of time.
  • Without immediate rescue, the swimmer quickly drowns.
  • Shallow Water Blackout occurs WITHOUT ANY WARNING of its onset. In fact, because of the hypoxia and detached mental state one can feel euphoric and empowered to continue breath-holding. If you want to learn more, check out this link here


1. Follow these preventive measures


  • Never Hyperventilate.
  • Never ignore the urge to breath.
  • Never swim alone or without lifeguard supervision.
  • Never play breath-holding games.

*Be safe at all times*

2. Start practicing your hypoxic


Start with easy to medium exercises to improve your breath-holding ability. Again, this a dangerous practice and it should be taken seriously.

Try out the following set:

4 X 50s:

50 – 4 Breaths

50 – 3 Breaths

50 – 2 Breaths

50 – 1 Breaths

The first one we did with 4 breathes total in the 50. The next one 3, then 2 and the last one with 1. Depending on your ability, you can do this 4,3,2,1 or with more breathes like say 7,6,5,4. The key here is to time your breaths strategically.

Slowly challenge yourself

If it is hard, start with 25s of the same manner.

3. Strategy 


3 Breathes

On this 50 Raul does 3 breathes. Since he just took a breath before leaving he goes almost to the flags at the other end to take his first breath. Before the turn you will naturally feel the urge to breathe. So it is good to have fresh air before doing it. Now, he has two breathes left for the last 25.

He takes them relatively early knowing that he will breathe right after he touches the wall.

breathing Control swim
hypoxic swim
hypoxic swim


2 Breathes:

For the 50 with only 2 breaths it’s a little bit more challenging. Notice the long streamline. It is easy speed without wasting oxygen in the blood for moving your muscles.

Again the first breath before the turn. Now there is only one breath for the next 25.

Mauricio took it in the middle because he felt the urge to breathe and knew that as soon as he finish would breathe again.


1 Breath:

Raul does the last 50 with only 1 breath. Again he has a lot of oxygen stored at first because he was breathing normally right before, so he goes the whole 25 without breathing.

After the turn he could take the breath whenever he wants. He chooses to go up to the middle because he was probably feeling good. 


4. Variations


Try out the following set:

4 X 25s:

25 – 2 Breaths, 4 breaths rest.

25 – 2 Breaths, 3 breaths rest.

25 – 2 Breaths, 2 breaths rest.

25 – 2 Breaths, 1 breaths rest.

The interesting part though is to control your breathing during the rest. Mauricio rested for only 3 breaths. After the third breath he went on to do the next 25 with only two breathes.

If you are not there yet. You can try a variation of this with more breaths.

Something like 4 breaths for each 25 and 5 or 6 breaths while resting. 

It is also good to take only one breath in the 50 free during competition to not waste time breathing at full speed.

These exercises will train you to feel more comfortable with the urge to breathe.

While this is good for training it can also be dangerous for your health. Shallow water blackout is most common among physically fit swimmers, spear fishermen and free divers.

Let me know in the comments bellow if there are anything else you would like us to explain or make a tutorial about.

See you next time!

Be careful and swim fast!

By Mauricio and Raul Uranga Last updated Jun. 11, 2020

By the way, don’t forget to share this knowledge to others..

Thank you!


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Ed Brophy
Ed Brophy
3 months ago

At “0.12” in the above video you can see “bubbles” coming out of the swimmers’ noses which means they are “exhaling” carbon dioxide, When Elite swimmers practice for the 50-meter swimming event in the Olympics, do they also breathe all the CO2 out while swimming the whole 165 feet? … Or do they refrain from exhaling CO2, like freedivers who call this “Dynamic Apnea.” Free divers don’t exhale underwater because exhaling reduces the amount of oxygen available in the body. Exhaling during the dive would remove oxygen that would otherwise help the diver hold their breath.; “any usable O2 that is… Read more »

Alan Mc Girr
Alan Mc Girr
2 years ago

I usually do the 3/5/7/3 drill