How to breathe when swimming? Beginners guide.

Maria Rezhylo
Word Record Holder in swimming
Danila Novikov
2x NCAA winner, 10x All-American swimmer
One of the most challenging things for a beginner swimmer is to learn how to breathe. It's understandable. You're probably scared of water coming into your mouth and nose. You're not sure about the timing of breathing. All of that creates a large amount of anxiety around breathing and putting your head in the water. But, it's important for a beginner to learn how to breathe while swimming before anything else. After mastering breathing, you can swim any stroke for longer without the need to stop to take a breathe.
In this article you'll learn
  • Submerging under water for the first time
  • Basic breathing recommendations
  • Timing of your breath
To start, find a place in the swimming pool where you can stand comfortably and perform our simple breathing guide. Remember, the water is your friend. Your water induced anxiety and fear are valid, but it's time that we face them and begin to immerse ourselves in the water. Make sure that you are in the safe depth of the swimming pool and you can stand up easily and breathe.

We wrote this guide with you in mind, knowing how hard it is to learn something new: that's why all of our instructions are simple and easy to go through. Let's dive in!
Exercise 1: Submerge

  • 1
    Get into starting position
    Get your body into starting position, where you chin stays above the water and your arms stay slightly spread in front of you.
  • 2
    Inhale & submerge
    Take a deep inhale with your mouth only! Hold the air inside of your lungs with your lips sealed. Submerge your entire face in the water. Make sure that your eyes are open and your chin is tucked while you looking straight down to the bottom of the pool. It is crucial to keep your forehead pointed downwards. This prevents the water from going inside the nose.
  • 3
    Exhale underwater
    When you have your entire face submerged in the water- slowly exhale the air out of your mouth and/or nose. Do not open your mouth wide while letting the air out. Leave a small gap in between your lips and blow tiny bubbles through the gap. Listen and observe yourself, to manage a decent breathing technique inside the water. You want to be able to hear the bubbling water sounds and see bubbles around your head. Keep your face in, until you let the air out of your lungs.
  • 4
    Come up
    Come up above the surface and inhale with your mouth. Go on and perform your inhale above the water and exhale inside the water continuously.
This exercise is designed to develop breathing while swimming for beginners. We recommend this exercise when you learning to swim as an adult. It's also a good exercise to use for the coaches during swimming lessons for kids. Make sure you get comfortable with this exercise before you move on. Submerging under water and defeating your fears is a huge step towards learning how to swim. Once you master this simple exercise, you can move forward and make it more difficult.
Exercise 2: Timing

  • 1
    Get into starting position
    Get into the initial position and prepare to inhale with your mouth. After you get your lungs full of air, put your entire face in the water in between your arms and exhale.
  • 2
    Start walking
    As you exhale start walking forward. Make sure you let the air out of your lungs before you come up to inhale.
  • 3
    Use your arms
    Move the water with your palms and forearms and get your head up above the water to inhale with your mouth. Make sure you pick your chin up as you come up and look in front you. Keep moving forward as you repeat that exercise over and over.
This exercise gives you a good idea of timing and how to get above the water to take each breathe. Now that you mastered those two and your anxiety is not as prominent, let's move forward to our final exercise. This exercise was developed for people who know how to kick and float. Before you do it, check out our articles where we explain how to float and how to kick while swimming.
Exercise 3: Against the wall

  • 1
    Hold the wall
    Hold the wall with both hands.
  • 2
    Take a big breathe in and get to your face in the horizontal position with the face just under the surface of the water.
  • 3
    Start kicking your legs
    Bring your hips and legs up and begin kicking against the wall, still holding the wall with both of you hands.
  • 4
    Take a breathe
    When you feel like you're running out of air, get your head up to take a breathe. But keep kicking and holding the wall.
  • 5
    Submerge again
    After taking a breathe, get your face back under the surface of the water. Repeat this cycle a few times.
Learn more tips for a beginner swimmer by subscribing to our new articles each week. Check out the article where I explain how to avoid some mistakes when learning how to float.

Download a free copy of the book Keep Calm And Float On if you want to overcome fear of water and learn to swim.

I know how challenging learning swimming as an adult or a child is. Sometimes, all you need is just some help from a professional. If you tried to learn how to swim on your own, but still can't figure it out, we offer swim lessons in New York and at home swim lessons. We can make you and your kid swim like a pro at no time.