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  • Writer's pictureCamille Chief Funlete

Triathlon Swimming Made Easy: Avoid Breathing Mistakes

Updated: Aug 6, 2023

Triathlon is a sport that you are forever learning and that requires efficiency in every movement, including breathing. Breathing while swimming may not be as natural as on land, but it's crucial for effective swimming in triathlon events. In this article, we'll discuss how proper breathing can improve your swimming performance and help you swim with ease in triathlons.

triathlon swimming athletes in pool during Swim Bike Run fun PinkStrong  event

The Importance of Proper Breathing Technique in Triathlon Swimming

Proper breathing technique is essential for triathletes because it helps deliver oxygen to the muscles and organs, improving performance and reducing fatigue. Correct breathing can also help you maintain a consistent stroke rate and improve the timing of your stroke. In a nutshell, proper breathing will simply make you feel like you are not going to die and decrease your anxiety.

Common Breathing Errors to Avoid While Swimming

One of the most common breathing errors seen in triathletes is holding their breath while their faces are in the water. This leads to an irregular breathing pattern that affects the delivery of oxygen to the muscles and organs. Triathlon swimmers must maintain a consistent breathing pattern that regulates the rise and fall of their breath in the water, similar to their breathing on land. Here is a great video below for beginner triathlon swimmers:

How to Maintain a Consistent Breathing Pattern in the Water

Ever wonder how often should Triathlete swimmers breathe? To maintain a steady flow of oxygen and carbon dioxide removal, swimmers can use a breathing technique that involves exhaling smoothly through the nose and mouth, as if sighing, while their face is in the water. Then, they can take a relaxed sip of air as they roll their head and body to the side on each stroke cycle. This pattern of inhaling and exhaling every two to three strokes can ensure a consistent oxygen supply and remove tension caused by breath-holding, resulting in a rhythmic breath every couple of seconds. Here is a video for intermediate triathletes:

Adjusting Your Breathing Technique for Open Water Swimming

Open water triathlon swimming requires patience, humility, and practice. Unlike in a pool, the movement of the water changes with every stroke, making it difficult to maintain your perfect cadence. Breathing cycles may also need to be adjusted in response to the conditions. Incorrect breathing can negatively impact your performance, so it's important to tune into your breathing mechanics and reset to the pattern you've been practicing in the pool, or find a calm rhythm that works for you in open water.


Mastering how you breathe and when you breathe in the water can be the most rewarding achievement for triathlete swimmers . Proper breathing technique can improve your swimming performance and help you swim with ease in triathlons. Remember to maintain a consistent breathing pattern, and adjust your breathing technique for open water swimming.

Download this OWS tips pdf for more tips on mastering your technique in triathlon swimming and racing.

Open Water Swimming Tips
Download PDF • 225KB




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