People often come for lessons complaining that they get very out of breath, exhausted even, after swimming a short distance. This is not usually caused by lack of fitness. It really comes down to rhythm. Sitting at the computer now, my in-breaths are a similar length to my out-breaths; 2-3 seconds long, one after the other. I don’t hold my breath. When I’m swimming front crawl my in-breath is much shorter than my out-breath. Approximately 1 second in-breath when my face is out of the water, followed by 4-5 seconds out-breath mainly when my face is in the water. (Whether my face is in the water or out of the water the out-breath starts as soon as the in-breath finishes and continues until the next in-breath begins.) I don’t hold my breath.
Sitting at the computer I am not conscious of the rhythm of my breathing. When I am swimming I am very conscious of the rhythm of my breathing.The rhythm of my movements in the water control the rhythm of my breathing. I turn to breathe every three strokes. (I could do it every two or four strokes, then the rhythm would be different.) Within the framework of my movements, I am imposing a pattern of breathing upon myself that I am happy with and therefore I am able to stay calm and enjoy the process. I don’t get out of breath and I don’t end up feeling exhausted.