Single Arm Breathing

Please ensure you have a safe space when practising at home. Leave enough space around you and remove any objects which may create hazards. Remember these drills are intended for dry land practice, not in the water.


Download our activity sheet to print and easily follow along at home

Download Now

Why focus on your breathing

Focusing on your breathing is a fantastic exercise to improve your swimming. This skill is introduced in K4-K5 at Kingswim, and is an essential skill for intermediate swimmers to continue to practice.

Breathing is very important in swimming and this skill helps to control your head position, ensuring you have a streamlined stroke.


  1. Swimmers – lay flat on your tummy on the edge of couch or bed. Lay on the couch or bed so that your preferred breathing arm is on the outer edge.
  2. Extend both arms out in front of you and start in the eyes down position.
  3. As your preferred breathing arm starts to pull downward, turn your head to the side and breathe in (with your ear resting on your shoulder).
  4. With your head in the breathing position, continue to push your arm all the way back until your thumb touches your leg.
  5. Raise your elbow, with your hand hanging in a relaxed position, thumb in line with the tip of your elbow (scarecrow arm).
  6. Maintain your scarecrow arm position as you begin to move your arm forward.
  7. Lead with your forearm as your arm moves forward.
  8. As your hand moves past your face and eyes, turn your head to the face down position and exhale.
  9. Continue to move your arm forward in front of your shoulder until it is straight.
  10. Exhale and blow your bubbles
  11. With both arms straight out in front of you and your head down, pause in this position for three seconds before repeating these steps
  12. Repeat this around 10 times.



  • Don’t lift your head – turn it.
  • Don’t look forward.
  • Make sure your thumb pushes all the way back to your leg.
  • Once your thumb has touched your leg, focus on lifting your elbow up nice and high to make a scarecrow arm, your hand should be relaxed.
  • Make sure your scarecrow arm has:
    • high elbows with your fingers down
    • hand hanging loosely from elbow
    • thumb should be in line with the tip of your elbow
  • Breathing – exhale slowly!
Kingswim Newsletter

Follow us

Stay up to date on water safety, follow us for tips and tricks on how to keep your little ones safe around the water.