Constant exhalation is a necessary skill for an efficient freestyle stroke, but many athletes (especially newbies) have a tendency to hold their breath underwater. To master your exhale, try this sink-down exercise from coaches Paul Newsome and Adam Young of Swimsmooth.com. If you’re surprised by how hard you have to exhale in order to sink to the bottom, the coaches say this means you’re not exhaling strongly enough in your normal stroke.
1. Tread water in the deep end.
2. Take a deep breath, bring your arms to the side or above your head.
3. Picture yourself letting out a big sigh as you start to exhale. Try to sink straight down to the bottom with no pauses.
4. Once your lungs are out of air, push off and come back to the surface.
If you struggle to sink, you may be subconsciously holding your breath. If you sink a little but pop back up to the surface, you may need to exhale more quickly. The coaches also suggest making a “brrrr” sound through your lips, to help your exhale. Once you’ve nailed the exercise, do three sink-downs in a row before your workout to release tension and remind yourself of proper breathing technique.