No matter which stroke you swim, breathing is important. But in breaststroke, the breath is extra critical, because it plays a role in every stroke you take.
If you feel like you can’t swim breaststroke without gasping for air, try incorporating some of our favorite breaststroke breathing drills to improve your breath control and timing!
When to Breathe in Breaststroke
The pros make breaststroke look like one fluid motion, but in reality the stroke can be broken into three distinct phases:
- The Pull & Breath
- The Kick
- The Glide
Your pull and breath happen early in the stroke at the same time. As you start to initiate your pull, you’ll be able to pull your torso up out of the water to take a breath.
Don’t pull yourself up too high, though! When your torso goes too high, your hips are going to sink, which will slow you down.
Find balance between keeping your hips high and lifting your torso just high enough to get a breath. The faster you go, the higher you’ll be able to get out of the water.
Once you’ve taken a breath, drop your head back down into streamline position.
3 Drills for Better Breaststroke Breathing
3 Kicks, 1 Pull
We have done this drill before as a way to improve the breaststroke kick, but it’s also a great way to work on breath control and timing!
Push off the wall in streamline, and maintain good body position as you take three breaststroke kicks. Do one arm stroke and take a breath, then drop back into streamline and take three more kicks. Really focus on your timing here.
2 Kicks, 1 Pull
Just like 3 Kicks, 1 Pull, this drill is great for timing the breath with your stroke. Keep your streamline tight during the two kicks, and when it’s time to do your pull, think “pull, kick, glide” to find the right stroke rhythm. Keep your body closer to the surface of the water and avoid diving down too deep.
Upside Down Breaststroke
This drill is a challenge, and is a great way to improve your timing. It’s just what it sounds like: Push off underwater on your back, and swim breaststroke upside down while fully submerged.
You’ll get a new perspective, and add some resistance that will help you get a better feel for what your body is doing during each phase of the stroke.
After doing a few 25s of this drill, swimming regular breaststroke is going to feel so much easier!
Breaststroke Drill Set
Try this breaststroke swim set to improve your breathing technique. Log this workout in the MySwimPro app for detailed tracking, analytics and personalized intervals.
- 1×300 Freestyle Easy @ 5:00
- 4×50 IM Order @ 1:00
16×25 Breaststroke @ :40
- 4×25 3 Kicks, 1 Pull
- 4×25 2 Kicks, 1 Pull
- 4×25 Upside Down Breaststroke
- 4×25 Regular Breaststroke
5×100 Freestyle & Breaststroke @ 2:00*
- 100 Freestyle
- 25 Breaststroke & 75 Freestyle
- 50 Breaststroke & 50 Freestyle
- 75 Breaststroke & 25 Freestyle
- 100 Breaststroke
*On these five 100s, focus on perfect technique and breath timing. Slow down, don’t rush, and think about stretching out between strokes to maximize your glide.
1×100 Freestyle Easy @ 1:30
Breaststroke is very technical, and there’s always something to be improved. Stay consistent with drills and technique work, and over time you’ll start swimming faster. For more drills, personalized workouts and analytics, download the MySwimPro app and start your custom Training Plan!