Don’t hold your breath
This was the hardest thing for me to accomplish. It feels so unnatural to keep breathing when your face is in the water half the time. However, if you are like me and struggle with swallowing water, focus on breathing out. If air is coming out of your nose, then no water is getting in.
Face down butt up
The swimming world tells you to keep your body straight in the water. They make it sound so simple. I always struggled being able to tell if my body was straight. Especially when I was trying to swim, breathe, and kick. It was like my feet out constantly sink, leaving me at a right angle from the surface of the water. For me, it got easier when I focused on pushing my face further into the water and lift my butt further out. Doing this naturally straightened out my body to a more parallel position with the surface of the water. Which in turn, made me faster as I could swim more smoothly.
Pattern your breathing and strokes
Look at the ground
I tried to swim laps without goggles the first couple times. A very avid swimmer took pity on me and let me borrow and extra pair that he had on him. I could not believe the difference. With the goggles I could keep my eyes opened and focused on the blue line on the floor of the pool. This help keep me swimming straight instead of drunk driving all over my lane. The other thing this helped with was getting to the end of the lane. By watching the blue line, I knew when I hit the T in the blue line, that I didn’t have to breathe in again, and the wall was only a few strokes ahead. Oh, and I think you’ll find that when you are watching that blue line you are able to keep your face fully in the water. This will also help keep you straight in the water.
Turn sideways and slow down
This one was a little tricky for me to learn. However, when I got it down it helped smooth out the kinks in most of my swimming. When you need to take a breath in, I would turn my head. Most of the time I was rewarded with getting a little bit of air as well as a bit of water. When I learned to turn my whole body to the side, I had a lot more control. So, when my left arm was straight forward in the water, my upper body was turned to the right with my right arm straight back. I don’t know if I could fully explain how this gave me a better moment to breathe without swallowing water. Mostly, I think it’s because I could turn more fully with my chest than I could with my neck.
Last of all, SLOW DOWN! I felt like I was trying to race the first couple times that I went. I mean, if you run faster, you burn more calories, right? However, if you can only sprint for 100 yards without stopping, or run slower for 5 miles, you’re definitely going to burn more with 5 miles. It’s important to learn the correct technique and build up your endurance. In weightlifting, it’s so important to lift correctly rather than to lift more with poor form. Getting the techniques to swimming laps was much more beneficial to me than just flopping around in the water, with my feet practically on the bottom of the pool and my face straining to stay above water.