These video frames are from my favorite DVD for illustrating efficient
Breathe Early and Deep
This sequence illustrates the start of an early and deep breath. By deep, we mean that most of the head stays in the water. The frames are spaced about one-fifth of a second apart.
The goal is to breathe while causing as little disruption as possible to the swimmer's balance and rhythm.
The sequence begins with the swimmer's right hand just beginning to enter the water. Some swimmers like to focus on beginning to rotate their face to the air as their stroking arm (the left one in the first shot) passes their face under water.
In the second shot, the swimmer begins to roll her head to the left as she begins to rotate her body onto the right side. Some swimmers like to focus on rolling their head onto their extended arm. Think of the arm as a pillow. It provides bouyancy, which helps to support the head, counteracting the effect of lifting part of the head out of the water.
In the remaining shots of the sequence, her face continues to rotate to the air. In the last shot her mouth is out of the water and she is breathing. Notice that one goggle is still in the water. She has gotten her face out quickly, and has plenty of time to breathe. As her left hand (still visible in the last shot) comes out of the water and quickly re-enters, she will rotate her face back into the water, eyes straight down.
Above the water, you might not even notice this breath. Generally speaking, the better the swimmer, the more difficult it is to see them breathe.
One very important thing to notice: The extended arm stays put in the glide position while breathing. DO NOT press that arm down when breathing. Our bodies want to do that to get our face to the air, but all that action does is waste the stroke (pressing down instead of back).
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