How Often Should Triathletes Breathe When Swimming?

Updated: Aug 3, 2021


Image Credit: Triathletes Jasmine Rogers &  Michanda Myles Ironman Triathlon Training in Pool
Image Credit: Triathletes Jasmine Rogers & Michanda Myles

The number of times you should breathe while swimming in open water or the pool is determined by a number of factors, including the stroke you're using, your speed, and whether you're sprinting or swimming a long distance.


Many swimming styles provide triathlete swimmers the option of controlling when they breathe. In a freestyle, for example, swimmers may opt to breathe every second, third, fourth, or even more strokes.


The goal of most competitive swimmers and triathletes is to be the fastest in their wave. You can work up your muscles, perfect your stroke, and even shave your entire body, but if you ignore your breathing, you may never attain your full potential or capture your best race swim times.

Bad breathing makes swimming more difficult, adds resistance and exhausts your body. The more oxygen you provide your body, the better you will function.

This endurance training blog post is geared to educate new triathletes and even veteran swimmers on how breathing strategies can improve your swim pace and race experience.


Can my breathing technique have an effect on my speed?


Yes. Your breathing technique has a significant impact on your swim pace. Your swimming technique and form, as well as how and how often you breathe, will affect your speed.


Effective breathing patterns will allow for more stronger & fuller strokes and increases your distance per stroke in most cases.


Tips for Improving Your Swim Breathing Techniques


It takes time, patience, and dedication to improve your breathing technique. There are exercises, drills, strategies, and tips that will help you breathe more effectively and efficiently in the pool and in open water - which can be found freely on YouTube.


Top 3 focus areas to improve your breathing and swim speed:

  1. Bilateral Breathing

  2. Body Alignment

  3. Don't hold your breath - exhale forcefully - know the bubble, bubble breathe song?

Tribe Shoutout: Jasmin Rogers shaved 12 min off her best Olympic swim at Rev3 Williamsburg by working on her Tri Swim technique and breathing with a coach.