Better Breathing Blog

Swimming: The Art of Breathing Well

Posted by Carolyn Morse

May 9, 2017 9:00:00 AM

PowerLung - Swimming- The Art of Breathing Well.jpg

The need for every living thing to breathe well cannot be denied. However, the need for strong breathing is evident to athletes. Since both respiratory and activity-based muscles compete for oxygen, athletes must become more efficient in their breathing ability to maximize performance. Although this relationship is understandable in all athletic events, none is more obvious to understand as in the sport of swimming.

Why Swimming?

Swimmers face a unique problem. Although exhalation is considered a passive action, the quick expelling of air in swimming makes it a much more active process. As the swimmer exercises more vigorously, the need for breathing increases, and thus raises the body’s oxygen demands. Swimmers must breathe between strokes in order to keep lactate levels low, or else risk fatigue too early in the race. Just like locomotive muscles, respiratory muscles are prone to fatigue, further compromising the racer’s ability. Therefore, just as an athlete must continually exercise to improve the speed and efficiency of the body as a whole, the respiratory muscles too can be enhanced with training.

PowerLung—A Breathing Workout

The PowerLung is a valuable tool for strengthening the swimmer’s ability to breathe and breathe better. By utilizing a pressure resistance device like the PowerLung, athletes can focus their training strictly on the respiratory system without taxing the rest of the body. Further, the resistance is applied both upon inhalation and exhalation, so there is a constant demand on the lungs, maximizing the workout. Swimmers can push more air from the lungs and take stronger inhaling breaths in the short period of time above the water.

Proof Positive—Study

In 2003, a 12-week study was performed with elite swimmers by the coaching staff at the University of Toronto. Swimmers were considered the ideal candidates because their respiratory systems are traditionally highly developed. Before each swimming session, each participant performed respiratory muscle training with the PowerLung device. The findings were incredible; the training improved both pulmonary function and ventilatory endurance. Scientists concluded that respiratory muscle training was advantageous to athletic performance.


In a sport where breathing is imperative and can make a significant difference in performance, it makes sense to train your respiratory system. With the use of the PowerLung, the respiratory muscles do not have to work as hard, the energy requirement for breathing is reduced, and subsequently, muscle stress is diminished. As a swimmer, you will breathe easier, more complete, and with lower stress when you train with the PowerLung; it gives you the competitive edge you are looking for.

Respiratory Muscle Training Program Effects   on Lung Function in Swimmers   (Download Study) 

Topics: Triathletes, Swimming, Health and Fitness, Scuba Diving, Competitive Swimming