How to Stop Raising the Head While Swimming


Lifting your head up and above the water line to take a breath may appear correct to a novice freestyle swimmer, since it seemingly allows you to avoid taking in an unpleasant mouthful of water. However, doing so can actually be unproductive, by throwing off your body position and dropping your speed. Instead, rolling your face slightly to the side with most of your head remaining submerged in the water can help you to streamline the stroke. Practice regularly to become comfortable with the proper technique.

Things You'll Need

  • Swimming fins
  • Focus on your body position as you are swimming the freestyle; correct alignment can help you to rotate your head and body with greater ease. Elongate your body while keeping the hips and shoulders in one line. Pull your belly button in toward your lower back and slide the shoulder blades down your back. Lift your hips to help keep your torso and head pushed down in the water.

  • Breathe into the pocket; the motion of the freestyle stroke creates a trough, or pocket of air, on the breathing side. Rotating your head until just one eye is above water level provides enough room to bring your mouth to the surface and take a breath.

  • Look to the side when bringing your mouth to the surface to take a breath. Rotating so far that you are looking upward can throw your body position off, along with your breathing; a steady breathing pattern helps to keep your head in the water rather than lifting it. Use the side wall of the pool as a guide when rotating your head; the one eye that rotates above the surface should look directly at the side wall.

  • Exhale all air before attempting a new inhalation. A productive inhalation requires your lungs to be empty; a partial one can deprive the body of oxygen, possibly leading to anxiety and causing you to lift your head to gasp for air. Breathing every two to four strokes, rather than every stroke, can help you to fully exhale all air before rotating your head for a new breath.

  • Perform drills to help you practice breathing without lifting your head. Push off from the wall. Facing down in the water, extend your left arm out in front of you and rest the right arm by your right hip. Kick at a moderate pace. Rotate your head slightly to the right when you need to take a breath, until your right eye is above the water level; take a breath in. Rotate your head back to face the bottom of the pool. Complete two to six laps.

Tips & Warnings

  • Seek the advice of a certified swim instructor if you continue to have trouble with keeping your head in the water. An instructor can help you to perfect your form and technique when swimming freestyle.
  • Consult with a health-care provider before starting a new sport or exercise program. Inform your doctor of any injuries or chronic health conditions that may interfere with swimming or working out in general.

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