It’s not uncommon for triathletes to find swimming the most tricky discipline to master.  Key to becoming an efficient and relaxed swimmer is efficient and relaxed breathing.  For many people this can be very challenging, after all it’s natural to become anxious about not having enough air to breathe, and trying not to swallow litres of water!


So, how do we breathe and swim at the same time?  Fundamental to breathing technique is exhalation – relax and breathe out continuously under the water, never hold your breath.  If you hold your breath CO2 will build up, making you feel a desperate need for air and making your body tense. Not the formula for good swimming technique.

Continuous and relaxed exhalation means the lungs will clear of air smoothly, allowing the swimmer to be ready for the next inhalation of air without gasping for breath. So, it’s important to remember to constantly exhale whenever your face is down in the water.  It’s up to you whether you exhale through your nose or mouth or both, choose whichever feels the most comfortable.

Relaxation & Exhalation Drill – Sink Downs

You could practice your exhalation skills at the beginning of a training set.  If you are exhaling efficiently you should be able to sink down to the bottom of the pool during this exercise.

Simply inhale then as you sink down below the water exhale out continuously;  you should see bubbles in the water as you breathe out, slowly sinking down as far as you can until you are ready to resurface again.  The exhalation should feel like a relaxed, continuous, long sigh.  Doing this drill 2 or 3 times before you start a set will help to relax you and will remind you of the importance of exhalation for the rest of the session.

If you exhale efficiently, you become more relaxed and will be able to hold a better body position in the water – this is what every swimmer, beginner to advanced, is looking to achieve.

For further information on swim drills devised by Swim Smooth go to

Categories: Training