Swimming is constantly messed up by human’s unfortunate need to breathe. Think how much easier and faster we would be if we just didn’t need to breathe. Breathing, in freestyle is a very simple and small motion. As the body rolls to one side the neck rolls with the shoulders, allowing the mouth to barely clear the water. While a purist may say there is no movement in the neck, I have to admit I have found most swimmers need a small amount of extra roll from the neck to clear the water, and get a breath. For such a simple skill, there are so many errors out there. See if your error is on my list.
- Over rolling: Don’t look at the ceiling. It seems simple enough, roll your neck less, here is why it can be a tougher change to make then you think. We have evolved as sight as the dominant sense, your instinct is to roll enough to clear both eyes from the water. This feels more comfortable. To beat it, pick something underwater to look at when you breathe, this will help you feel more comfortable with the lower roll.
- Over rolling: No, this is not an editing error, I am repeating over rolling for a reason. Not everyone over rolls for the same reason. Some feel that they will get more time to breathe. When you roll low, it does not shorten the amount of time available for your breath.
- Breathing forward: Don’t tip your head back and look forward when you breath. This, again is often done for the instinct to get your eyes out of the water. In reality, this error places your mouth closer to the water forcing more roll to get the mouth clear of the water.
- You were taught to “look forward” or “water at the hairline”. Both of these create bad swimming alignment (an upcoming topic) and lend themselves to having to over roll to get your mouth out of the water.
The correction for all of these errors is to keep the had lower (head aligned with the spine) and to roll only enough to clear one eye above the water.
They key word is to simplify the motion. Breathing is a very small and simple motion. Keep the head low (aligned with shoulders and spine) and with a relaxed neck do just a small amount of turn at the same time as the shoulders roll.
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