• Technique

5 times you should adapt your breathing when ocean swimming

Use these ocean swimming breathing tips to swim more effectively in the open water.

Did you know, we breathe around about 20,000 times throughout the day?

Out of the water we hardly think about our breathing, but when we’re swimming, it becomes a primary focus. When we’re ocean swimming, it takes on a whole new meaning.

Here are five ways to adapt your breathing to the ever-changing conditions in the open water.

1. Swimming out through the surf

When swimming out through the surf, breathe every second stroke to fill your lungs, and keep them filled, with oxygen.

This will help when you need to dive under waves, especially if it comes at a moment’s notice.

Also, the more frequently you are breathing the more often you can sight, allowing you to see any approaching waves and giving you enough time to execute an efficient dive.

2. Swimming in windy and choppy conditions

When the conditions are windy and causing the water surface to become choppy, it’s important to breathe away from the wind even if it isn’t your regular breathing side.

By doing this your head will create a lee which will keep the water calm and make it easier to breathe in.

3. Swimming in sunny conditions

When swimming at either sunrise or sunset, the sun is low in the sky, making it harder to sight and see as the sun shines in your eyes.

During these times, breathe away from the sun to increase your visibility across the water’s surface.

This becomes very important when you’re swimming back in through the surf and you’re looking behind you for swell runners or waves to catch.

Ocean swimmers swimming at sunrise breathe away from the sun

4. Swimming along the beach

When swimming parallel along the beach out behind the waves, learn to breathe bilaterally (both sides). This allows you to look out to sea to check for approaching swell and breaking waves and to look towards the wave zone for reference points to check that you’re not drifting (or being blown) too far out to sea.

5. Swimming point to point

The best things to see on a coastal ocean swim are either on land or under the water.

If you’re swimming along the coast on a point-to-point swim, breathe towards the shore to take in all the beautiful sights, there’s not much to see when looking out to sea other than the horizon, more water and the occasional boat.

  • Written by Ocean Swims on 21 November 2023
  • (Updated on 21 November 2023)

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