I’ve mentioned the 3-5-7 breathing drill in a couple of posts. It’s actually a bit of a favourite of mine…one I can do, but that you can keep pushing yourself on if you’re feeling motivated.

It’s one of the simplest drills to do. You start swimming. Do 3 strokes and then breathe. Next do 5 strokes and then breathe. Next do 7 strokes and then breathe. Then start again with 3 strokes…5 strokes…7 strokes. You get the picture. If you’re really feeling like challenging yourself you can add a 9 on the end of each cycle…and I suppose theoretically you could go higher.

I personally find the drill gets harder the longer you do it for. The first couple of cycles and you’re going fine, but as your body fatigues it starts wanting more oxygen and you start going for great gasps on each breathe.

There is a trick to this drill, as with all of them. The thing to remember with all questions of breathing, is that it’s generally better to exhale, than to hold your breath. If you hold your breath you get a build up of carbon-dioxide in your system. When that happens you start to get that uncomfortable kind of panicky feeling. Instead, it’s far better to smoothly exhale as you swim.

When most people do this drill for the first time, they tend to try to swim really fast on the 7-stroke part of the drill, to try to get to that breathe sooner. In fact, it’s an awful lot easier of you focus on slowing down your stroke and swimmingly smoothly and efficiently. If you’re thrashing in the water all you do is use up your oxygen faster!

So why do we do this drill? Well, there are a couple of different reasons.

  • It’s good for developing lung capacity.
  • It’s good for learning not to hold your breath.
  • It’s good to know what running out of air feels like and how to not panic when that happens (useful in big surf).

This is an easy one to do on your own as it’s pretty self-explanatory, doesn’t take any special kit and doesn’t involve any special technique, so by all means give it a go!