Butterfly breathing technique is a rapid and explosive action that can take place every stroke or every second stroke depending on the ability of the swimmer and the distance and pace of the swim.
Inhalation and exhalation take place within a very short time during the stroke cycle and therefore powerful respiratory muscles and good breathing control are required.
For an in-depth look at all aspects of butterfly stroke including practical exercises to practice and help perfect your technique, download How To Swim Butterfly.
Inhalation takes place as the arms complete their upsweep and begin to recover, as the body begins to rise.
The head is lifted enough for the mouth to clear the water and the chin should be pushed forward, but remain at the water surface. Some exhalation underwater takes place during this phase.
The head is lowered quickly into the water again as the arms recover inline with the shoulders, to resume an overall streamlined position and maintain minimal frontal resistance.
Explosive breathing is normally preferred but a combination of trickle and explosive breathing can be used.
Explosive breathing involves a rapid exhalation followed immediately by inhalation, requiring powerful use of the respiratory muscles.
Breathing can take place every stroke or every other stroke. A breath every stroke requires the head to be lifted with each arm pull cycle.
A breath every other stroke means the head is lifted once during an arm cycle and then it remains face down for the next arm pull cycle.
Breathing every other stroke can in some cases allow the swimmer to exhale underwater, therefore making inhalation when the face is up, much easier.
Failure to actually breathe is the most common mistake made by beginners learning the technique for butterfly breathing.
Because the inhalation and exhalation have to take place very quickly in the short second the face is being raised, it is very common to either inhale only or not breathe at all. The result: a pair of extremely inflated lungs and a severe lack of oxygen.
Performing the full stroke and taking a breath every other stroke cycle is a good way of ensuring that exhalation is taking place and that the lungs are sufficiently emptied before inhalation takes place.
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