Swimming breathing. Should I breathe out through the mouth or nose?

Swimming, swimming technique -

Swimming breathing. Should I breathe out through the mouth or nose?

One of the most challenging things to master in the water is simply the timing and control of your breathing. One of the frequent questions asked by new athletes is, “should I breathe out through the mouth or nose?”

As an overarching rule, when swimming you never water water up your nose. It is painful and this is going to either stop you from swimming or be a bad distraction.

The solution is to learn how to keep some air pressure in your nose. By doing this you will be able to 100% mouth breathe. This is why some elite swimmers sound ‘nasally’ when they talk, because of the hours underwater and habit of mouth breathing. If you cannot pressurize your nose, then you may need to do exhale very slowly out of the nose as well as mouth. Basically, you never want water up the nose!

Times when additional nose pressure or exhalation through the nose is needed, is when you tumble turn, do backstroke or kicking on your back when your head goes under the water or when your jumping into a pool, especially from a height. In these instances it’s more likely you need to exhale through the nose as the pressure of water trying to enter your nose, is very high.


There are some additional things that can help you from preventing water going up the nose. These are:
  1. Having a breathing pattern. This can be modified to fitness and ability but the key is the pattern. You need to find a comfortable rhythm. This could be a standard frequency such as every strokes or 3 strokes (bilateral) Or a mix such as a 1:3:1 pattern
  2. Slowing down - often breathing issues are due to someone trying to rush the stroke, or kick too hard too early. The components of a stroke can be broken down and trained separately - specifically kicking can be done with a kick board and head up out of the water. So slowing down will allow for you to time the stroke easier and feel less out of breath. Over time you can increase the pace again once the cardio improves
  3. Wearing a nose plug - perhaps the final option is to wear a nose plug. This should only be used if all other options have failed

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