Adam Walker demonstrating the 'Ocean Walker' swimming technique
Training > Swim

Swimming technique: 9 common mistakes

Triathlon swimming coach Annie Oberlin-Harris explains 9 common mistakes triathletes make in the swim and advice on how to correct them

4 Panicked breath holding

Getting your breathing right is so fundamental to your performance in triathlon. Since the swim comes first it makes sense to master it in the water first. Many swimmers hold their breath in the water.

This leads to storage of carbon dioxide, sending a panic bell off in your brain. Often you’ll interpret this as lack of oxygen. But if you think about it you’ve just had a breath in about one or two seconds ago and we’re not at the top of Everest; the oxygen content of your air was perfectly good! Storing CO2 elevates your blood lactate level leading to you reach your lactate threshold very quickly. Ever get to 75m and wonder why you’ve got to stop to ‘catch your breath’ or had to resort to breastoke in your triathlons? Get your exhalation right and say good-bye to this performance hump.

How do I breathe out properly in front crawl?

Ensure you let go of the air with a relaxed face; let your jaw drop (like when you smell your own bad breath!). Try standing face down in the deep end just simply blowing bubbles. Move to the deep end and start letting your body sink down as you learn to squeeze your diaphragm and let the air go right down to your belly.

How do I stop feeling out of breath when swimming front crawl?

Trickle breathing versus explosive breathing out in front crawl


Most of your oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange happens in the lower part of your lungs. Think of it in thirds, rather than breathe in three thirds and let go of one, breathe in one third and breathe out three. You’ll notice as you let more and more go the increased internal pressure will allow the air to almost fall back into your lungs every time you turn your head to breathe in, without you needing to over inflate and force it in. Try it and see how much more relaxed you are swimming continuously. 

Continue reading our guide to 9 common swim mistakes (4/6, faults 5 & 6)


 Improve your swim breathing in triathlon training

How important is bilateral breathing for beginner swimmers?


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