Front Crawl Breathing Doesn’t Have To Be A Struggle
If front crawl breathing’s a bit of a struggle, go back to basics and work on the key elements of the stroke, rotation and balance. If it helps, don’t even think about what you’re practising as ‘front crawl’.
Work on establishing balance on the left side, then the right side, with your head and spine nice and still in the centre, looking at the floor.
Everything (hip, shoulder, arm, hand) moves to the left then, with the left arm staying forward and giving you balance, the right arm gently recovers over the water and everything moves to the right.
When it comes to getting air in, it’s important to establish balance on the left side or the right side, with your head resting in the water, face out, looking at the ceiling. Gently kick to stay in position and keep it moving. Stay there for as long as you like so your inhalation is unhurried.
It may not feel like front crawl, slowing it down and lengthening everything out like this, but if you feel like there’s no freedom or ease in your crawl, give it up for a while and work on balance in the water.
Some people find it mentally challenging to hold the breathing position but if you can, it takes the stress out of the stroke, especially when you’re learning.
To help a pupil of mine remember to take her time in the breathing position, I came up with this: “Left Side, Right Side, Look On The Bright Side”. ‘Look on the bright side’ is the bit you say to yourself during the breathing phase. It has more than twice the number of syllables as ‘left side’ and ‘right side’ so helps you remember to take your time. My original offering was Left Side, Right Side, Norman Whiteside, but only 1980s football fans know him!
Hold the breathing position and give yourself time, to breathe and to decide that you’re going back in to establish balance on the side again.
Left side/ Right side/ Look on the bright side! Right side/ Left side/ Which is my best side?
Have a look at the video clip of Gareth in Lanzarote to see how this helps him.