I find myself out of breath after swimming only two lengths at a time hard. I think my breathing is not too bad, but not sure my stroke technique is correct. I have watched others swim and tried to alter my stroke to copy theirs, but I could do with some tips. I am 69, enjoy swimming and currently take class lessons once a week. Thanks for any suggestions.
Let us look at your breathing technique first:
Ensure you are trickle breathing (blowing out/exhaling underwater) so that when you need to breathe, you only have to inhale, unlike explosive breathing, which takes longer and is more tiring (holding your breath while swimming and then breathing out and then in the short time it takes). Swimming is a form of exercise, and you would not hold your breath if you were running or cycling. The water is not a natural environment for a human, so make it as natural as possible and breathe out while you swim.
As you have not specified which stroke you swim, giving you any technique tips for a certain swimming stroke will be difficult. However, we can generalize. Good swimming is all about being efficient through the water, and efficiency comes from being relaxed. Whatever swimming stroke you swim, your body position should be as narrow as possible so that you “cut” through the water. Arms stretched out in line with your shoulders are more efficient than hands entering the water side of the shoulder line, for example.
The golden rule is to feel your way through the water and not fight your way. Relax and swim slower; you may swim a length or two just as quickly but using half the energy.
Lastly, swimming is a very effective form of exercise and therefore is energy consuming. Freestyle is the most energy-consuming (except butterfly), and breaststroke is the easiest and the least consuming.
My best-selling book The Complete Beginners Guide To Swimming contains all of the most important aspects of learning to swim plus over 80 separate swimming exercises to help all parts of basic swimming. You can download it, print out the parts you need and take them to your pool to try out. Click the link below for more information.