/ Safety

Breathing Techniques for Swimming

‌‌While kicking and arm strokes may be the first things that come to mind when you think about learning to swim, much of what makes a swimmer safer and more efficient in the water comes down to breathing. ‌‌

Mastering essential breathing techniques for young swimmers requires patience and persistent effort. At Big Blue Swim School, our classes offer age-appropriate techniques, laying the foundation for fundamental breathing skills. As your child progresses through our curriculum the focus expands to safety, comfort, and precise breath control for swimming. Our program aims to ensure students master rhythmic breathing for swimming and acquire all skills necessary for a lifetime of water enjoyment.


Little baby taking swim lessons

Having your young child feel comfortable in the water is a critical first goal of our Baby Blue program, offered from 3 months to 3 years of age. (Of course, if a child joins our program later, we make sure they feel comfortable and confident with water surrounding their face, too!).
We begin by assisting new swimmers aged 3-18 months in our Baby Blue program to anticipate being submerged underwater for a short period. This proactive introduction not only fosters early water confidence but also taps into the natural reflexes of infants, ensuring they instinctively hold their breath during these brief moments. Anticipating submersions helps a child avoid developing a fear of putting their face in the water and ensures that water stays out of their lungs and stomach-an essential early skill for safer swimming.

From ages 19-36 months, little ones will practice submerging their own face into the water. While their face is in the water, they also practice blowing bubbles out. This breathing technique prepares them for rhythmic breathing and breath control for swimming while also preventing them from swallowing or inhaling water as they get used to submersions. ‌‌


Two boys practicing proper breathing techniques during swim lessons

Once a child is comfortable with their face in the water, we can begin to work on breath control. By the age of 3, when our Bright Blue program starts, children work on putting their whole face in the water. As they practice, the goal is holding their breath for three seconds. ‌‌

All mammals, including humans, possess a natural diving reflex that causes them to automatically hold their breath when submerged. As children grow and become capable of comprehending and following instructions, our goal is for them to actively control when they hold their breath, moving beyond reliance on reflexes. Through regular practice of extending breath-holding durations, children not only learn how to control breathing while swimming but also build a sense of control and confidence in the water.

This breathing technique sets a child up to learn to breathe rhythmically, a key element of efficient swimming.‌‌


Girl using rhythmic breathing while swimming

Rhythmic breathing is a pattern of timing exhales and inhales while continuously swimming in a fluid cadence. This helps swimmers know how–and how often–to breathe while swimming. ‌‌

While learning, our Bright Blue swimmers (ages 3-5 years old) repeat a pattern of 3 seconds of bubbles out and 1 second of air in. They also learn to maintain proper head position, keeping the face and ears submerged while exhaling to sustain a horizontal body position in the water. If a swimmer lifts their head up and out of horizontal body position to breathe, their feet will sink below the surface of the water, making it harder to swim.‌‌

In our Bold Blue and Big Blue programs, older swim students, ages 6 and up, learn the appropriate cadence of rhythmic breathing coordinated with leg and arm movement for all four strokes (freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly).

Get Started with Big Blue

Big Blue Swim School location

Proper breathing techniques make swimming more enjoyable, efficient and safer. A child continuing through the Big Blue program–and then perhaps onto a swim team–will learn how powerful proper breathing techniques are for swimming farther and faster. ‌‌

Proper breathing techniques while swimming improves performance. Rhythmic breathing helps sustain speed and form, delivers a consistent flow of oxygen to muscles, and helps maintain body pH by reducing CO₂.‌‌

Whatever the age or skill level, we'll help your child master proper breathing techniques along with all the other elements of swimming at Big Blue Swim School. ‌‌

Want to get started? We can't wait to meet you and your child! Sign up for a free trial or call us at 888 918-3076 with any questions.