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Freestyle Side-Breathing Drills

Today, I’m going to review several Freestyle Lateral-Breathing or Side-Breathing drills. I’ll start with some dry land exercises that can be done at the start of the lesson or even at home, and then I’ll move on to some in water drills.

Initially, some kids are easier to work with on land. Here, I’m helping my daughter with the basic freestyle motion. We’re concentrating on turning that head, rolling the shoulders, and finishing the stroke. We can do the same thing in a standing position. Turn that head and roll the shoulders. Next, I’m doing a similar drill pool side. Forehead down bubbles, roll for the breath, forehead down bubbles, turn that head for the breath.

Rollovers and side glides also help us prepare for side-breathing. Push, turn… Push, turn… Push, turn, twist… With side-glides, I often tell the kids that we’re pretending to be a shark. Let’s string the skills together. Front glide, roll, side-glide…

With one-arm drills, we’re concentrating on rolling that shoulder out, getting a good breath, and blowing face-down bubbles. First, I’m using a barbell. Here’s the same drill using a water aerobics dumbbell. Let that non-breathing shoulder come up. Older kids and adults, can do this drill with a kick board or a pull buoy.

However, sometimes pool equipment and kids don’t mix. In these cases, we can work one-on-one with the student on side-glides, bubbles breath, or the one arm drill before moving on to the One/Two Drill.

With the One/Two Drill, I initially support the student’s outstretched arm. Then, I have them take 2 strokes and return to their side.  After some initial support, I let go for two strokes, and then help them get back to a good side-glide position.

Then, we work on stringing the breaths together.

1, 2, Breath.  Go, 1, 2, Breath.  Go, Bubbles, Bubbles, Breath

As the student gets better at it, the less I support them, and they transition to swimming on their own.

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Written by Chris B.

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