Breathing with front crawl ?

While on my morning swim today I tried the breathing drills I have learned from the good people on this forum, I did 1 length of breathing after every 5 strokes, then 4 strokes, then 3 and repeated a couple of times and quite enjoyed it, however after a few drills it was time to go to work so I did a couple of slow lengths breathing every 2nd stroke and found I was really struggling to breathe, I understand I was tired at this stage but I was wondering, can you take too many breath's ? I was breathing out quite slow and not blasting it all out in one go

I tried the next length every 3 strokes so alternating the sides that I breathe and found it a bit easier, I'm puzzled as normally I struggle to do 3 stroke breath's, could it be that I'm finally getting the hang of it after one set of drills ?


  • no idea sorry.i can only breathe every 2 or every 4 strokes........sometimes when i'm doing every 4 I slip in an extra on 2 as I seem to need the air.......

     I'm useless though so hopefully someone with some knowledge will come along shortly image


  • I only ever use 2 as part of drills as i also feel it is too often (especialy when swimming slow and your oxygen demand is not as high).

    I use 3 as the norm ... it works for me image 

  • I find it relatively difficult to breath every stroke.. It should probably be easier but I find breathing every 3 strokes the easiest way for me. I'll only breath every stroke if i'm sprinting the end of a set.

    To answer your question, no I don't think you can breath too much. The majority probably breath to one side every stroke, especially in a race but in training I think its pretty unanimous that breathing every 3 is the best way to go so I would stick with that.

  • Oxygen exchange is quite important in swimming so the more you can get in and circulating the better
    The breathing drills are there to improve the use of that oxygen you take in
    In short, do what is comfortable for the pace that you are going, dont take too much in and dont force the effort unless pace dictates it
    3 is good as you use both sides (obviously) and especially in OW you want to be comfortable breathing on either side

  • Thanks for the tips guys, I tried every 3 strokes this morning and found if I slightly sped up my strokes it was more comfortable, having only recently managed to string more than 4 lengths together without turning blue, I'm enjoying making fast progress, maybe I will survive that openwater swim this year after all.

    Next stop wetsuit shop, does anyone know of a good place to buy one near the West Midlands/Warwickshire area (Coventry) ?

    I know there is one in Birmingham called Try1st UK, has anyone been ?

  • Good news on the progress Fatmoimage

    It may be worth starting a new thread re the local wetsuit shop ... you may get more respponce 

  • Thanks WildWill, will do

  • The coach at masters said if you're struggling with 3 strokes and the stroke rate, hold your breath for the first stroke, then breathe out over the other two.

    I think breathing unilaterally is bad for your stroke as it can make you uneven. I now feel rather strange. If you prefer unilateral then try 4 strokes.

    I'm trying to get comfortable breathing on either side and both sides - one side may be preferably in choppy open water.
  • i can only breathe one side and when doing a sea swim it makes it really hard..........going in the one direction i get a mouth full of seawater everytime I breathe

  • Toasty, I work in Cov with a guy who recommends TFN (total fitness Nottingham) for a wet suit. Hope this helps.

  • Thanks all for the great advice, thanks GraemeK I'll check TFN out image

  • toasty - I can also recommend TFN - I got mine from there, they willl price match to wiggle as well, so get a list of prices to take with you. They will make sure you get one that fits properly and won't try to get you to spend lots. The guys that work there are very friendly and helpful

    and the breathing - if you don't breathe out enough you won't have much room to breathe in. I breathe every 3rd stroke

  • I think you can over breathe.  If you breathe too often then you will either pant to get the air in and out fast enough and this will tire you, or breathe shallowly which doesn't clear the stale air out of the bottom of your lungs so you are only using part of your lung capacity.

    As you get better at swimming you will find that you don't need to breathe as often as your stroke will flow better and you will use less energy.  Eventually you will settle on a rate that suits you.  For most people that is 3 stroke, but it could be 4 or 5.  There is nothing wrong with 4 stroke breathing as long as you can do it on both sides.  Switch sides every so often to balance the strain on your neck and shoulders.  Some people say it unbalances your stroke and in some people it might do, but if it suits you then go for it.

    The advantage of 4 stroke breathing is that in ow you can chose to breathe on the side that favours you with the waves.  Three stroke breathers have no choice but to breathe into the waves and choke, or change their style on race day.

    I personally now prefer 3 stroke breathing but can switch to four stroke on either side when I need to.  Having the flexibility to do this helps me a lot in races

  • Thanks for all the advice guys, I tries the holding the breath for the fist stroke during the 3 stroke breath method and found it helped, also the triangle training method is a huge help


  • I'm a 2 stroke breather (left side) as I find it difficult to rotate to the right due to a very stiff neck from years in the front row.  I can breath every 4 in training but when I need to up the pace, it's not enough so I quickly switch to 2 stroke.

    it can be a downside in the sea when the waves and swell are coming from the left but you quickly learn not to breath if you are going to drown!!!  

  • I know what you mean, I have a shoulder injury, I used to play back row, blindside, up untill last year. I have played since childhood and apart from a few teeth and the usual knee problems my shoulder injury was the first real hospital injury I suffered in 20 odd years.

    While swimming I tend to splash a bit with my left arm as I dont have full movement on my left but apart from a lot of clicking it doesn't seem to hamper my poor swimming stroke.

  • Hey Buddha I'm assuming you we're a loose head then... I was a tight head for about 10 years then lost too much weight sadly too continue... On topic I did use to breath every 2 strokes in training and now it's every 3 which I find balances my stroke out a fair bit more..... But I'm also a 2 stroke breather when racing mainly because I'm trying harder so need more oxygen, simples!
  • JT - spot on with the loose head - although my early career was hooker until I got too big for that - which is bizarre when you see the size of some of the monsters hooking now!!

    I always find it strange that a lot of triathletes come from rugby backgrounds rather than say football - I wonder why??

  • Because rugby is a sport that involves passion, dedication, and big balls... Now on the other hand you have football.... Opening a big can of worms here!

    To be honest Buddha if you look at England's squad now the backs are the same size as most of the bloody pack! And yes some of the hookers are monsters!
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