Breathing Exercises & Drills 
 Freestyle Swimming 


On this tutorial we will show you 4 breathing exercises you can do to maintain a better, more horizontal position while swimming smooth easy freestyle.

The level of these exercises is easy (beginner) to medium.


1.  Holding the wall exercise

The first exercise is to Grab the wall with one hand.

  • Take a deep breath.
  • You can exhale very little air through the nose.
  • Put your face in the water.
  • Kick just enough to put your body in a horizontal position.

*If it is too hard you can put your feet on the floor and practice the breathing movement, once you feel more comfortable bring the legs up again*

At this moment you are not exhaling.

Hold your breath for about 2 seconds and on the way up to take another breath let about 50% of the air in your lungs out through your nose plus 20% with your mouth.

Take a quick breath through your mouth of that 70% of air you let out.


You will notice that in swimming you breathe the exact opposite as if you were running.

  • When you swim, you exhale through your nose and inhale through your mouth.
  • You shouldn’t constantly exhale the whole time your head is in the water. This is key to maintaining your upper body floating.

Practice this exercise on both sides, breathing to the left and breathing to the right, until you feel comfortable with the movement and the breathing technique.

I also don’t fill my lungs to their full capacity.

That would cause the problem we talked about in the smooth freestyle video.


2.  Full stroke kick board drill

The second progression is very similar but you will have a kick board instead of the wall and you will also be doing full strokes.

The drill is to kick with your head in the water and take one stroke along with one breath each time.

You can do 6 kicks per breath or whatever feels comfortable. 

Notice that there is no exhaling while the head is in place looking at the floor.

Elite swimmers just exhale while the head is moving up to the surface before breaking it and a little bit while on the surface. This all happens in a matter of hundredths of a second while swimming fast.

That is why you have to practice it slowly at first and perfect it through repetition.


3.  Full stroke kick, no board

The third exercise is the same as the second but without a kick board. Usually swimmers have a preferred breathing side but it is of good practice to learn how to breathe well from both sides.

  • Trying keeping both arms up, like floating next to you.
  • Only use your arm when you are taking the stroke, take the opportunity to breath

Notice that the second goggle barely comes out of the surface, this is to make the breath fast and keep a good alignment of the body.


4.  Full stroke kick, no board

The fourth drill is simpler.

  • Just kick with your arms down.
  • Move your head to the side to take a breath.
  • There is no arms’ movement
  • Focus on maintaining the hips high on the surface of the water
  • Take quick breaths the same way you practice on the other three exercises.


Now you are ready to do the whole thing!

Swim one length of the pool on the smoothest freestyle you can do, while taking short quick breaths.

Try breathing every 2 stroke, every 3 stroke and every 4 strokes.

Notice the difference. Stop at the other end, control your breathing and do it again.

By Mauricio and Raul Uranga & Miguel Chavez, Last updated Jul. 24, 2020

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

Thank you!



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2 years ago

Great advice!! learnt mover here then at my swimming lessons that I’m attending at the moment.
a lot of time and effort has been has been done to make this content, will buy some merch to support you guys!
Thanks from Australia, hope all is well over your way.