Why you need to improve your lung capacity and how to do so.
Before tacking this subject, I would like to make a suggestion: take a look at a video of one of the 50 m freestyle finals at the World Championships or Olympics.
As well as the startling times they swim, you might also notice that on average each swimmer takes 1-2breaths at most and there are even some swimmers who do not breathe at all for the entire 50 metres. I am trying to point out how important having excellent lung capacity is for a swimmer. Of course, I am not suggesting you should only breathe once or twice at most every 50 metres, but there is something to be learnt from this.
First and foremost, in a nutshell, our lung capacity tells those how well our lungs work. This can be measured (usually part of a medical-sports check-up) called a spirometry test. Regular exercise improves your lung capacity, smoking makes it worse.
But do not be fooled into thinking that having a good lung capacity simply means being able to hold your breath longer, otherwise it would only apply to freestyle and butterfly swimmers, while it would be of no use to backstrokers (seeing as they can breathe all the time) or breaststrokes (who breathe every stroke).
We have already mentioned that good lung capacity means better lung function. Oxygen and glucose are the basis of all the chemical reactions taking place in our body to create the energy that allows us to move (and live). Training this capacity means having more oxygen available and, hence, improving your anaerobic energy function.
It is also worth noting that the oxygen in lungs helps us float, so the more you have the better your position in the water will be.
Here are 3 exercises:
1. Breathing in-breathing out as deeply as possible.
You can perform this exercise at home and it is an excellent way of relaxing. Slowly breathe in as deeply as you can and hold your breath for five seconds. Then breathe out as far as possible and wait five seconds before repeating the exercise. Take 10 deep breaths in and out.
2. Breathing in time with your arm stroke.
Swimming freestyle in the pool, alternate breathing every 2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9 strokes. This exercise can be performed when swimming easily or swimming hard.
3. Breathing a set number of times over a certain distance.
Unlike the exercise above, set a maximum number of breaths for each lap of the pool. This exercise can be performed both when swimming hard or swimming easily. For both this and the previous exercise, begin by swimming 300/400 m and then gradually increase the intensity.
Take a deep breath and enjoy your training!