Late Breathing in Freestyle
We frequently see in freestyle during the breathing phase swimmers breathing late in relation to the arm cycle. Whilst this isn’t a cataclysmic issue it can create complications for the swimmer particularly under race conditions and during demanding training sets.
The two main areas where this habit can adversely affect performance are:
1. The late movement or rotation of the head results in a disconnect with the timing of the arms and the rotation of the shoulders and hips, which disturbs the rhythm of the stroke and some loss of efficiency.
2. There is a reduction in the length of time that the mouth can be open for inhalation, resulting in a lower volume of airflow and as a consequence the gas exchange in the lungs is compromised.
The ideal timing of the rotation of the head for breathing is; the head rotates as the propelling arm commences the push phase of the arm pull, which is in synchronization with the upward rotation of the shoulder on the breathing side. Inhalation begins just prior to the completion of the push phase and the during the commencement of the recovery of the arm. Inhalation continues through the first half of the recovery and as the hand or arm passes the shoulder the head commences its counter rotation and finishing in the neutral position with the eyes looking after which the exhalation begins.
Rotating the head to breathe with this timing will provide an optimal period to complete the inhalation. If this period length is shortened by turning the head late, then the opportunity to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide becomes limited, which is highly likely to adversely affect performance.
A drill which can help create to correct breathing timing is “single arm opposite side breathing drill” is the “Opposite Side Breathing Drill”. This drill has the swimmer for instance stroking with their left arm but breathing to their right, with the rotation of the head coordinated with the entry and extension of the left arm (stroke with the left and breathe to the right). The right arm is held stationary by the right hip. If you have someone afflicted with late breathing try this drill and see if it helps.