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Recently, a friend of mine convinced me that it was a good idea to compete in a triathlon. I had wanted to lose weight and get into shape, so I agreed. By this time, I had already participated in a local 10k race; I had some experience riding my bike for extended periods of time, but what I hadn't realized is that I hadn't gone swimming in years. Eventually, I gathered the courage to get back into the gym pool and try to remember what I learned during the swim lessons I took when I was in 5th grade. After a few swim sessions, it became apparent that swimming was much like riding a bike. I was able to move in the water and I knew the basic movements. However, after ten minutes or so, I was completely exhausted. It didn't take long for me to understand that I was swimming inefficiently. I asked my competitive swimming friends for some advice, did some research online and soon became more aware that much to the cause for my inefficient swimming came from an improper breathing technique while moving through the water. Mastering the fluid motion of breathing is one that requires time and dedication, not to mention impeccable timing. I found a list of common breathing mistakes for the novice reader and they have proven most helpful. Here is the basic list: 1)

Turning the face too soon

Swimmers who turn the face too soon for air do it before the recovery arm on the breathing side enters the water, throwing off the natural rotation sequence of the body. The swimmer then tends to speed up the recovery process to compensate, while also losing propulsion power. 2)

Turning the face too late

Swimmers who turn the face too late hesitate with each stroke, breathing during recovery rather than on the underwater stroke. 3)

Lifting the Head

Lifting the head forces the shoulders to remain still during the stroke. If the shoulders are not rolling, crucial propulsion power is lost. 4)

Pulling the head back and out of alignment

Pulling the head out of alignment causes inefficient arm rotation. This causes drag as you move

through the water. These are just a few of the breathing mistakes that make swimming much more difficult than it needs to be. It is important to consult with an expert if you are thinking about swimming regularly. The health benefits of swimming will surely be worth the effort. For more information, visit

Joseph Devine

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Breathing Mistakes of the Novice Swimmer  

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