This month’s focus is on correct breathing position, as well as the correct timing of the breaths your child takes. This is extremely important across all four strokes… and yes, that includes backstroke! Breathing can either make or break your stroke, so here are some important points to remind your child before they go for their swim lesson.


In freestyle it is important to make sure your child is breathing to the side with as little lift from their head as possible. The head acts as a balancer for the rest of the body. Therefore, if your child lifts their head when they breathe, their legs will drop.

One factor in the breathing position that we see a lot of swimmers forgetting about is where their extended arm is in relation to the water. It is important when breathing in freestyle that your child has one arm extended out in front for longer. This promotes the correct breathing position, which in turn, will help them maintain correct body position in the water.

Finally, the timing. When breathing during freestyle, it is important that your child initiates their breath when their opposite arm is entering the water. This will allow your child to get a full breath in before they need to get their face back down in the water. It is important that they get their face down before their raised arm gets in front.


Many people think that in backstroke you can just breathe whenever you like. However, it is just as important as the other strokes to breathe in a pattern or rhythm. How your child takes a breath can affect how their body sits in the water. If they breathe randomly, this can lead to a compromised body position. It is important for them to breathe to a pattern and control their breathing during their stroke.

Just like in all strokes, the head position can have an impact on body position. Remind your child to make sure their head is pushed back and they are looking to the ceiling in order to maximise their breath as well as improve their body position in the water.


Breaststroke is a little different to the other strokes, as you have to take a breath for each stroke you do. This means that your child needs to make sure the timing of their breath is correct in order to maintain rhythm within their stroke.

It is important that they release the air when they are gliding/stretching forward, so they are able to take in all the air that they need each stroke. Again, finding the rhythm in their breathing pattern is essential to maintaining the correct stroke.

Your child should breathe in once they have lifted their head and shoulders out of the water to perform the sweep/scoop motion of the stroke. Their head needs to be back down again during the stretch/glide position, where they exhale before repeating.


Butterfly is a stroke that relies heavily on timing and rhythm. One small error in the rhythm and timing, and this can have an effect on the efficiency, as well as how hard butterfly can be. In order to make it easier for your child, I cannot stress enough how important the timing is when it comes to breathing.

It is important that they initiate the breath in the catch phase of the stroke. If they leave it too late (i.e. until their arms are down by their side) then they are going to struggle to keep their momentum, as well as get their head back down in time to initiate the next stroke. We want your child to aim to get their head back down before their arms get in front in order to maintain the correct rhythm.

If there are any technique tips you’d like us to tackle, let us know by emailing [email protected]

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Jacob is the Assistant Swim School Manager and Private Swim Coach at AUT Millennium. Jacob has been with AUT Millennium since 2015 where he became a qualified learn-to-swim instructor. He now assists in managing the Swim School as well as working with learn-to-swim students, both adults and children. As well as competitive swimmers and open-water swimmers who are trying to refine their technique in 1-on-1 sessions. His background in swimming involves representing both his club at National events, as well as New Zealand at International events.