Breaststroke Breathing Technique

When to breathe in and when to breathe out

Breaststroke breathing usually occurs naturally as overall breaststroke technique action has a natural body lift which gives the ideal breathing point with each stroke.

Inhalation takes place at the end of the insweep as the body allows the head to lift clear of the water.  The head should be lifted enough for the mouth to clear the surface and inhale, but not excessively so as to keep the frontal resistance created by this movement to a minimum.

Breaststroke Made Easy

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Breaststroke Made Easy

"Made me correct some bad habits I didn't know I had. Absolutely brilliant!"


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The head returns to the water to exhale as the arms stretch forward to begin their recovery phase.

For an in-depth look at all aspects of breaststroke including practical exercises to help practice and perfect the techniques, download How To Swim Breaststroke

Breaststroke breathing technique

Explosive or Trickle Breathing?

Trickle breathing is generally easier and less energy consuming. 

The act of breathing in and out as you swim is more comfortable than holding your breath. Performing explosive in and out breaths in a short time can be very exhausting.

Some swimmers perform the stroke with the head raised throughout to keep the mouth and nose clear of the water at all times.  This simplifies the overall breathing technique.

Correct breathing technique is essential to maintain a smooth swimming stroke

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Do You Make These Common Breaststroke Breathing Mistakes?

Some beginners experience difficulty breathing during breaststroke.  The two main reasons are: 

  • Failing to lift the head enough to clear the water surface and inhale
  • Holding the breath and therefore failing to breathe out into the water

This swimming stroke needs a powerful leg kick and it is this leg kick that gives a natural body lift.  

Together with the arm action there should be enough lift to enable the mouth to clear the water surface to inhale.   

The most common mistake made with the breathing technique for breaststroke is failing to exhale during the glide phase making it impossible to inhale again, or forcing the swimmer to use an explosive breathing technique.

Although explosive breathing is a valid breathing technique for this swimming stroke, it is usually only used competitively.  

When swum recreationally, exhaling during the glide phase of the stroke is more efficient and uses less energy.  

Using a woggle or swim noodle under the arms provides support and allows the swimmer to swim in slow motion whilst practicing the breathing technique.  Extending the body into a long glide as exhalation takes place ensures the breathing takes place at the same time as keeping the stroke at its most efficient.

Perfect your breathing technique with these simple exercises

Download these documents to your computer, tablet or mobile device and discover the most essential technique tips and key focus points to help improve your basic breathing during breaststroke.

Standing in shallow water


Breathing using a noodle


Breathing with leg kicks


Click here for more breaststroke exercises.

All of these documents are PDF format and are compatible with all tablet and mobile devices.  Some computers may need PDF reading software such as Adobe Acrobat

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