Enhance Lung Capacity While Swimming

Edited by Jeffrey Casel, Nate Pepperell, Ephraim, Anonymous and 7 others

Swimming without proper training and conditioning, especially of the lungs, can be difficult and exhausting.

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Swimming is an excellent way to improve and maintain your fitness level. To get the maximum results, you'll need to learn good breathing techniques and employ efficient lung function. There may be times in your life, you experience difficulties breathing while swimming, Always make sure there isn't an underlying health issue like asthma, that's stopping you from enjoying the swimming experience. So much will depend on your existing level of fitness, your age, and your health.

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The exhaustion you experience when swimming is due to the lack of oxygen in the body. Olympic swimmers work out regularly so they won't become oxygen-deprived while swimming or participating in water-related sports. It's very important that you prepare your body for any sport, and in this instance, it's even more important when you are swimming competitively – even if with yourself. Here are some tips to increase your lung capacity while swimming.

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Breathing Basics

Water is denser than air, and when submerged in water, it compresses your chest. You must consciously remember to exhale while you're under water. Often, beginners will feel some anxiety regarding breathing and swimming, but once you condition your lungs, and gain some confidence, the incidence of hyperventilating, holding your breath too long, or forgetting to exhale under the water, these situations will decrease. It's important to exhale in the water, immediately after inhaling. This will gives you the feeling of control. Steady, easy breathing gives you the best chance at an adequate oxygen supply, which is necessary for extended motion and aerobic metabolism.

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Specific Exercises and Conditioning

Below you will find excellent tips and suggestions you should put into place to increase your lung capacity, specific to swimming.

Breathing Correctly

In order to increase your lung capacity, you will need to learn the correct way to breathe. There are different methods that people use in order to breathe while swimming or doing other underwater activities, and you'll find many different opinions, but there is only one effective way to increase your capacity. This action requires two parts to help your breathing, while swimming at the same time.

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  1. 1
    Determine the stroke.
    You need to know what stroke you'll be using, regardless of what body of water you're swimming in. Each different style of swimming stroke has different breathing requirements, and it's imperative that you know what breathing method to use for each stroke.
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  2. 2
    Freestyle swimming.
    While freestyle swimming, each time you turn your head to take a breath, make sure you exhale all the air in your lungs completely, before taking a breath.
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    1. Deep breath. Be sure you are taking enough air into your lungs.
    2. Continue this pattern every other stroke of the freestyle swim.
    3. Many experts insist on bilateral breathing doing the front crawl or freestyle stroke. Bilateral means breathing from both the left and right sides. At a minimum, you would do this every third stroke, so you'll alternate right and left side breathing. Some swimmers prefer to employ this method every five or seven strokes. Whatever the choice is, bilateral breathing means alternating taking breaths from both the left and right side. Bilateral is still a bit controversial, and many seasoned swimmers have tried to learn it, but found it too difficult. Sometimes, it's easier to teach a new dog new tricks, and difficult to relearn something that has become so natural.
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  3. 3
    Butterfly Stroke.
    You'll want to control your breathing properly, as this specific stroke uses a lot of energy. Exhale under water, and inhale as soon as your mouth clears the water, and your arms begin their recovery. Tilt the head down a bit - and slightly forward when you're inhaling. This will avoid putting undo strain on your neck, and will also help to maintain a steady rhythm.
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  4. 4
    Sidestroke.
    The best time to breathe while doing the sidestroke is during the glide.
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Kicking

Aside from the strokes you make with your arms, you also need to focus on your kick. Believe it or not, a proper kick will also help you to exert oxygen while swimming. You need to make sure you are kicking properly so you don't exert unnecessary oxygen.

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  1. 1
    Kick lightly.
    This is the way to reach your goal or desired swimming distance.
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  2. 2
    The faster you kick the more oxygen you use up.
    The will limit what you can do.
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  3. 3
    If you notice a lot of splash coming from your kick, you aren't doing it right.
    Try straightening your legs, or pointing your toes.
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No Kicking

Another way to help you to increase lung capacity is to hold your breath, and swim a specific distance without kicking at all. This can only be performed if you have a strong stroke. Holding your breath and not moving your legs will help you to conserve your air and energy. Perform this action for a minimum of 15 seconds in order to help you increase your lung capacity.

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Choose Your Way of Breathing

While swimming, there are three techniques you can use to increase your lung capacity with your breathing while swimming.

  1. 1
    Hold your breath.
    Holding your breath is one way to increase your capacity. This technique is done by taking a deep breath before going under water. This will expand your lung capacity.
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  2. 2
    Low frequency breathing.
    This is basically when you don't fill your lungs with as much air as you can, but instead take shallow breaths. This works out your lungs in a different way.
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  3. 3
    Breathe free.
    This is a way to increase lung capacity by swimming a specific distance without filling your lungs with any oxygen. This will stretch your lungs and increase capacity. This is a rather hardcore way of stretching your lungs and can prove to be dangerous if done by someone who's not an avid swimmer. Because you don't have any oxygen in your lungs, you need to kick lightly, as it requires less. Here are the steps to order to perform this exercise correctly.  
    1. Decide on the distance you'll swim – from a few feet to 25 feet maximum.
    2. Swim the distance without taking a breath.
    3. After reaching the distance only give yourself 30 seconds to recover before swimming the distance again
    4. To get the full benefit from this workout, repeat this method up to 20 times during your swimming activity.
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Practice

Practice breathing the ways you are comfortable with, in order to successfully control your breathing. To get a full workout, do 12 sets of these exercised, alternating the various suggestions above. Below is a list of warnings and tips to avoid causing yourself harm in the process.

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  1. 1
    Don't overdo it.
    Do not push yourself to the point where you feel that you have to pass out during your workout.
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  2. 2
    Inhaling water.
    If you happen to inhale water, take some time before resuming your workout.
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  3. 3
    Cramping.
    Getting a cramp is a sign you have over exerted yourself. You need to take a break until the cramp passes.
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  4. 4
    Muscle burn.
    When you feel a burning sensation in your muscles, you need a rest. Stop until the muscles have rested and warmed up.
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  5. 5
    If you are not a good swimmer then take your time when performing this exercise so that you build up your lung capacity slowly but at a safe pace.
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  6. 6
    Start shallow.
    When you begin these exercises, practice in the shallow end of the pool. You'll be safe there, until you perfect the exercises.
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  7. 7
    Concentrate.
    Whatever breathing pattern you're working on, concentrate on what you're doing. Think about it, before jumping into the water.
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  8. 8
    Buddy up.
    It might be a good idea to workout with a friend, in case you need help.
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Tips and Warnings

  1. 1
    While doing freestyle or any other swimming technique, it's important to know when to take a breath.
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  2. 2
    If you do not perform the correct breathing pattern, you may take in less oxygen than your body requires.
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  3. 3
    While swimming, be sure to kick lightly because kicking will conserve oxygen in the body, avoiding oxygen deprivation.
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  4. 4
    Try practicing kicking lightly while holding onto the side of the pool.
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  5. 5
    Try to swim laps underwater and see how long your oxygen will last.
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  6. 6
    Start slowly, and work your way up to your goal.
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  7. 7
    Jogging or Sprinting and other cardio exercises can also help you train your lung capacity.
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  8. 8
    Rotate your body in the direction you'll be taking your breath.
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Questions and Answers

Does swimming underwater increase lung capacity for other sports?

Strengthening your lung capacity for other sports or exercises offers a lot of benefits. If you are engaged in sports that involve some cardio, such as soccer or football, having an increased lung capacity allows more room for air. This will translate to any activity that requires a lot of air.

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In 1997, the result of a study on the effects of an extensive one-year swimming regimen on the function of the lungs of prepubescent girls was published in the "European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology." The researchers found a substantial increase in vital capacity, lung capacity, and functional residual capacity.

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In order to increase lung capacity, you need to take full, controlled breaths, regardless of the stroke you are doing. Completely fill up your lungs with air and then execute the proper technique of exhaling.

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Here are the steps for strengthening your lung capacity for other sports:

  1. 1
    Swim face down in the water, if you have not learned how to do the front crawl or freestyle.
    Blow bubbles with your mouth, but don't completely submerge your head in the water.
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  2. 2
    If you don't know how to swim, stand in the water and move your hands as though th#
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Master the correct technique of the front crawl or any other swimming stroke as a way to strengthen your lungs.

  1. 1
    Ask a coach or friend for help.
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  2. 2
    Check your alignment.
    A horizontal position lowers the pressure in your lungs, thus increasing its volume. This is applicable for the freestyle and backstroke. By maintaining a straight spine and parallel body, you can achieve the maximum lung expansion. Deep aerobic breathing when your lungs are expanded makes the respiratory muscles work in a different manner, which will also increase your lung capacity on land.
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  3. 3
    Be as relaxed as possible when swimming.
    Any sign of tension in your face makes you hold your breath underwater instead of exhaling, which results in an interference in your breathing timing, which then leads to exhaustion.
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  4. 4
    Slowly exhale into the water.
    Blowing air our too fast and you will also be inhaling too quickly, which can lead to hyperventilation. Slowly exhaling allows the lungs to take full breaths that completely fill them, thus increasing your lung capacity. When doing the freestyle, take as much time as you need.
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  5. 5
    When doing the freestyle, do bilateral breathing - take a breath after every three strokes.
    It is called this because your breathing is done on both sides. It not only streamlines, but also boosts your lung capacity by working both lungs equally.
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  6. 6
    Make sure you do not turn your head too far when breathing in the freestyle.
    Look to your side and not the ceiling as this can cause constriction in your air passage and your lungs will not expand enough. Body rotation should be enough to stay streamlined.
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Increasing lung capacity. My lung capacity is not what it used to be and I am doing a 500M swim as part of a triathlon.

Was looking at methods or supplements to increase both breathing capabilities and also mental strength.

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I can only swim about 100 meters before I have to rest and regain my breath before continuing.

I swim in a salt-water creek where there is a current. So I swim against the current for about 200 meters and then with the current on the return. I find I usually have to rest twice during this swim, not only to catch my breath, but my arms are aching. I am fairly fit and am 76 years old. Regards John M.

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Continuously swimming for 100m

I am practicing swimming in 25m pool. Once I have gone from one end to the other, I am exhausted and rest for 10 to 15 seconds before starting again. More over, I am trying to take a breath every 4th stroke.. I have tried: Free style swim for 25m is fine but I'm not able to continue. I think it was caused by: Feels like I'm not able to take enough breaths and the drag is causing me to stop and relax for few minutes and start again.

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Recent edits by: Nuance, Ashwinsraja, marcusdesade

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