Getting a stitch, veering off course, becoming out of breath or swallowing water are the risks faced by a swimmer who neglects to use the proper breathing technique.
To overcome these problems, NABAIJI suggests some exercises using different techniques, with or without equipment, to improve breathing and "lung capacity".
The suggested exercises are to be introduced after warming up or during recovery in order to focus exclusively on technique and not on speed or distance. Do not try to go fast, just focus on the movement.
With a kickboard:
Hold the board with your right arm stretched out straight in front of you and keep your left arm in opposition, i.e. alongside the body. You move through the water only by kicking your legs. The head is under the water and should rotate every five seconds to briefly take a breath and go back to its place to breathe out under the water.
Change arms every 25 metres.
The goal here is to keep the best possible alignment between your body and the board and better buoyancy by taking a short breath in and a long breath out, without lifting your head too much either.
For those more comfortable in the water, you can try without the board.
Still too easy for you? Put both arms by your sides!
With a snorkel:
To do this exercise you must be sufficiently able to control your inhalation and exhalation to avoid suffocating. It involves swimming the crawl normally whilst using a snorkel.
It will force you to keep your head straight throughout the stroke and make a real effort to exhale in order to maximise inhalation.
One-arm front crawl:
The one-arm front crawl is a very good way to practise your breathing due to its repetitive nature. As you can guess from the name, it involves swimming the crawl with one arm and breathing every two movements on the active side (right arm moving = breathe in on the right side). Exhalation is still continuous, once the head is in the water. The other inactive arm will be placed straight out in front of the body.
Change arms every 25–50 metres.
Once again, the goal is to practise keeping your body aligned with the constraints of breathing and buoyancy.
Breathing with every stroke:
Training technique consisting of swimming the crawl while breathing in with every arm stroke (right and left).
The difficulty is that the body must remain straight and aligned while the head is rotating continuously. Breathing in must be brief and breathing out as fast as possible to avoid hyperventilation.
The purpose of the exercise is to force you to keep a straight posture at all times, not to lift your head too much when breathing in and to get used to breathing out under water.