Trickle breathing versus explosive breathing in front crawl

Andy Bullock explains the differences between trickle breathing and explosive breathing when swimming

Andy Bullock explains the advantages of trickle breathing compared to explosive breathing when swimming

There are a number of techniques to control your breathing when swimming front crawl. But the most common are trickle breathing (gradually breathing out while your head is underwater) and explosive breathing (where you temporarily expel all the air just before turning your head to breathe). Most coaches would suggest that the trickle breathing is the best choice for the following reasons:


 1. Explosive breathing means holding air in your lungs. This makes your upper body more buoyant and keeps your torso high in the water, so it’s harder to maintain a streamlined position.

 2. Explosive breathing means breathing is rushed at the end of the stroke and the swimmer ends up partially exhaling above the water. This reduces the time they have to breathe in, prolonging the process of breathing and disrupting the stroke.

3. Your breathing pattern can help dictate how you’re feeling while swimming. Gradually breathing out in a calm, controlled and relaxed manner confirms that you are, in fact, calm and relaxed. Explosive breathing can make you feel a little panicked, which can result in a rushed stroke.


While breathing technique is ultimately all about using what works best for you, consider trying other techniques to make sure you’re as calm as possible, allowing the other aspects of your swim technique to be as effective as possible.

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