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Currently I am a beginner and trying to learn breast stroke(some say it is the easiest of all strokes). I am fine with the leg movement in this. However,after maybe one or two leg strokes, I can't bring my face (mouth to be precise) out of the water surface to take a breath. I see people around using their hands and come up in a very relaxed way but for some reason I am unable to do so. How to get my face out (and in a relaxed way) ? Is it only tilting the neck or do we use our back to stretch or is it the hands that help to come up?

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When doing breast stroke your arms should naturally push downwards. The technique as far as breathing is concerned is that your head does not change position throughout the stroke and instead, the force of the down push will lift your head, shoulders and part of your upper back out of the water. If you watch a video of an Olympic breaststroke event you can see this technique being used from both above and below water cameras which is highly useful for teaching.

I recommend that you watch these videos and also think about the down push while performing breaststroke. The movement needs to be natural and instinctive. After you start thinking about the down push, you may notice that your technique lacks in your arm movements or position of your back during the stroke. Unfortunately there are many factors to consider during a stroke but practice really does make perfect here.

Good luck!

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A common mistake beginners make is not to shove their faces under the water. And they forget to exhale before inhaling. Really.

If this is your problem, you should get yourself a proper pair of swimming goggles and practice at really getting your face under water as you stretch your arms forward in the reach part of the arm stroke (which immediately follows the end of the leg kick). Reaching further forward also makes your arm stroke more powerful and will get you that extra momentum to get your torso upp enough to inhale. But remember to exhale as you reach, as you kick, otherwise your lungs won't be ready for a new breath of fresh air when your head pops up out of the water.

An added benefit for those of us who are crap at breaststroke is that in reaching and gliding in the middle of the stoke cycle we get to rest a bit before taking the next stroke.

I hope you will get hooked on swimming and go on to learn the three other strokes. Learning to breathe in breaststroke will help.

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