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Improve head and body position to breathe more effectively

This is an excerpt from Swimming Drill Book-2nd Edition, The.

Kicking in Breathing Position


Getting enough air while swimming in open water is critically important. This drill and the next two drills are designed to help you improve your head and body position so that you can breathe effectively in open water.


  1. Begin by kicking in a streamlined position with your head down in the water and exhaling (a).
  2. Pull with your right arm so that you finish with your right hand at your side. Your left arm stays extended out in front.
  3. As you are pulling with the right arm, roll your body and head to the right so that you can breathe.
  4. Continue kicking while keeping your left arm extended forward and your right arm at your side (b).
  5. Take at least three full breaths while on your right side.
  6. Recover the right arm forward into a streamline position with your head down.
  7. Pull with the left arm and repeat steps 3 through 6 on the left side.

Focus Points

  • Keep your kicking rhythm steady at all times.
  • Keep your front arm extended while breathing to keep your body position higher in the water and to make it easier to get air while you roll to breathe.
  • Roll your body as much as you need to so that you can breathe easily.
  • Keep your head in alignment. Swivel your head to breathe, don't lift it.


  • Be sure to practice this drill on both sides so that you can be more comfortable with alternate breathing, which can come in handy in rough waters.
  • If you are practicing in a pool, use the freestyler hand paddles to help you get the feel of keeping your body on keel with the extended arm while you breathe.

Learn more about The Swimming Drill Book, Second Edition.