Breathing and Swallowing Air

curlycurly Issaquah, WAMember

In my annual stroke evaluation and reconstruction exercise, I have been working on a couple issues. First was my overall stroke which I've modified a bit. I'm going with higher elbows on the recovery and improving my hand placement in the water. The second thing that I've noticed is the topic of this discussion.

One thing that was puzzling me with my longer swims is that I would get gassy. I solved this by turning my swimsuit into a ballon periodically. But I realized that something was wrong because this shouldn't be happening. I discovered on this site that there were two possibilities, feed and/or swallowing air. I eliminated feed as a problem by swimming without any feeds and discovering that I was still getting gassy, so it was obvious to me that I must be swallowing air.

I started really paying attention to my breathing. I breathe bilaterally and one side is better than the other, so I started to suspect my weak side, but I couldn't figure out what the heck I was doing. Yesterday, I think I had a breakthrough which I'd like to share. I was doing an easy pull-bouy swim and paying attention to my breathing. I noticed that I was doing a little mouth close and tongue movement just before I breathed. It was a miniature swallow. So then I tried to stop doing that.

I was swimming length after length with no success. And then it hit me. I swim with my mouth agape like a baleen whale. Yes, I'm Micheal Jordan without the vertical leap. A producer I used to work with pointed this out to me years ago. When I start to get focused and concentrate, my jaw drops and I'm slack jawed and in another world. Well this is exactly what happens when I swim. So I tried keeping my mouth shut, blowing bubbles out my nose and only opening when I was inhaling. Well, gosh if that didn't seem to do the trick. I wasn't doing the little mini-swallow. I discovered this pretty late in the workout, so it's hard to know if I've solved the problem, but I didn't seem to have any gas or bloat. So I'm encouraged.

So now I embark on a difficult path for me. I have to learn to keep my stupid mouth shut... :))



  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member

    Keeping your mouth shut while swimming also helps to keep things like duck poop and tiny jellyfish out! ;)


    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

  • curlycurly Issaquah, WAMember

    wendyv34 said: Keeping your mouth shut while swimming also helps to keep things like duck poop and tiny jellyfish out! ;)

    Ha! That's true. I figure it will also reduce drag as I present a remarkably streamlined form without my jaw hanging down. I'll probably cut about 3 minutes off my mile time... ;)

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Member

    I have always swum with my mouth mostly open... Such a hard habit to break. It comes from trying to relax every part of my body not in the active motion of swimming. Not an issue in the lakes, but makes salt water swimming a little more challenging.

  • curlycurly Issaquah, WAMember

    Update on my breathing technique change. Amazingly, I'm finding this a very easy habit to break. I'm swimming with my mouth closed and find myself doing it without thinking about it. I do notice that I am doing a little continuation of my exhale as my mouth breaks the surface. I know when I was training for pool racing, we tried to emphasize inhaling when you break the surface. But considering that my turnover and breathing rate is a much more leisurely pace now, I'm not too concerned about wasting a little surface time on the exhale. I'm getting plenty of air and I'm never out of breath during a normal swim pace.

    But most important, I'm not getting all gassy and bloated. So I think I've corrected at least one stupid habit during my stroke revitalization program. I will have to change my feeding schedule as I no longer will be scooping up giant mouthfuls of plankton or whatever flotsam and jetsam that I used to take in...

  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member

    I think that continuing to exhale as your mouth breaks the surface is a good technique for open water, since the surface is (usually) always changing. Sometimes when you try to breathe, you find yourself under a wave, especially in a brisk headwind.


    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

  • SydneDSydneD Senior Member

    I had a client who had this same issue and came to be because of what he called his "Burp Babies" every time he swam. He would get a totally distended belly and have massive stomach pain until the burps started, and it was so often that he started to name them alphabetically. By the time he came to me, the babies had names almost halfway through the alphabet. :)

    Thankfully, he is no longer air preggers.

Sign In or Register to comment.