Proper breathing techniques don’t just keep you alive while you’re floating just beneath the surface of the water, they also increase your aerobic performance as a swimmer. The amount of air in your lungs is as important as the strength of your breaststroke or dolphin kick for your overall swimming technique. Practicing good breathing patterns and taking full advantage of your lung capacity helps you swim faster and more effectively. This holds as true for Olympic triathletes accustomed to open water swimming as it does for beginner swimmers taking the plunge into the deep end of their swimming [pools](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/types-of-pools-explained).\nHere are four swimming tips to ensure the best possible breathing for speed and stamina: \n\n1. __Maintain body position__. Your body position should remain fairly static as you turn to breathe while swimming. Keep your front torso facing the bottom of the pool as you change your head position to breathe; turning your entire body sideways to come up for air would slow you down and make it difficult to execute full strokes with your arms. If you’re doing a backstroke, keep your back to the bottom of the pool and take advantage of the fact that you can breathe freely.\n2. __Breathe rhythmically__. Rhythmic breathing, incorporated with the rest of your swimming strokes, will help you make the most of your time in the water. Come up for air every two to three strokes as a trial run to see how comfortable you feel—then increase or decrease the number of strokes between breaths until you find what works best for you. Make sure to exhale while you’re underwater—it’s a common mistake to try to do both, inhale and exhale, while you’re above water.\n3. __Adapt based on the stroke__. Different swim strokes call for different breathing patterns. Freestyle strokes require front crawl breathing (turning to the side as you swim freestyle to breathe), whereas a butterfly stroke allows you to come straight up out of the water to take your next breath. If you’re swimming freestyle, you can also adapt even further by trying out bilateral breathing—turning to both sides to breathe rather than just one.\n4. __Exhale slowly__. Take the time to learn how to exhale appropriately when learning how to swim. After taking a deep breath, exhaling slowly is paramount to move efficiently and build up more stamina. Exhalation increases your oxygen debt; inhalation decreases it. In other words, the deeper you breathe quickly while coming up for air and the slower you release that breath, the more efficiently you can move through the water.\nThis breathing drill will help you get some practice in if you’re not quite ready to submerge yourself completely underwater. Lie across a kickboard or other floatation device, place your face into the water, and practice lifting your head out of the water (either horizontally or vertically depending on the stroke you’re working on) to take a quick but deep breath. Place your head back under the water to exhale. Repeat the process until you feel ready to incorporate this with your swimming strokes and kicks.\nIf you have a previous or pre-existing health condition, consult your physician before beginning an exercise program. Proper exercise technique is essential to ensure the safety and effectiveness of an exercise program, but you may need to modify each exercise to attain optimal results based on your individual needs. Always select a weight that allows you to have full control of your body throughout the movement. When performing any exercise, pay close attention to your body, and stop immediately if you note pain or discomfort.\n\nIn order to see continual progress and build body strength, incorporate proper warm-ups, rest, and nutrition into your exercise program. Your results will ultimately be based on your ability to adequately recover from your workouts. Rest for 24 to 48 hours before training the same muscle groups to allow sufficient recovery.\nThrow on some athleisure, fire up a [MasterClass Annual Membership](https://www.masterclass.com), and get ready to sweat it out with exclusive instructional videos from Nike Master Trainer and *GQ* fitness specialist Joe Holder. Want to improve your cardiovascular endurance? Give Joe’s HIIT workout a go. Trying to get a little swole? He’s got a strength training workout for that. From fitness tips to nutrition hacks, Joe will have you feeling healthier in no time.\nLearning how to properly hold your breath underwater and when to come up for air is an essential aspect of swimming.