I've been "swimming" once in a while for years, while on vacation for example, and never had a problem. Recently I've been learning the crawl (freestyle). I've finally got myself up to 20 meters or so without running out of breath. But now, after swimming the crawl for a while, I feel sick. I come out of the water and lie down, and things spin (as if I've drunk too much), and I feel a little like throwing up.

I'm pretty active. I run and things like that. Is the nausea a sign that I'm doing something wrong, or is it just part of getting acclimated to this stroke?

  • Is this one time occurrence, or reoccurring? Apr 7, 2016 at 13:17
  • @JamesJenkins - It's happened over the last few days, as I've been doing the crawl longer distances. No problems with the amateur-breaststroke I normally do for much longer distances. Apr 7, 2016 at 13:23
  • Sounds like motion sickness to me. It's certainly possible to get motion sickness in a pool, I had a friend who could get motion sick while riding a bike on winding trails. I've never gotten motion sickness in a pool, but I have out on open water when the water surface is a little choppy
    – Johnny
    Apr 7, 2016 at 23:59

2 Answers 2


This is most likely either a breathing problem, or a fatigue problem. If your muscles aren't tired at all then it's probably breathing. Given your description it sounds like you are hyperventilating. If your muscles feel like jelly then it means that you're pushing too hard. I've seen plenty of people puke (and have done so myself) after going harder than they were ready for.

Either of these is rather dangerous as breathing can make you pass out, and pushing too hard can make you cramp. Both lead to drowning.

  • I think it's a breathing problem, too. But I'm breathing like the internet said to. Push out as fast as I can underwater to get all my breath out of my lungs, then every fourth stroke putting my head to the side (and slightly facing back) and drawing in. Apr 7, 2016 at 13:42
  • 5
    @horsehair: NO!! If the internet told you that, then well, shame on you internet. Maintain a steady even rate of exhale while underwater. Practice with just kneeling down in shallow water and leaning forward until your mouth goes under. Better yet, find a swim instructor and take some lessons.
    – cobaltduck
    Apr 7, 2016 at 14:02
  • 1
    @Kevin - breath, right arm goes under, left under, right under and up and breath to the left side. I said four before but that seems to be a mistake (while I mime it outside.. and my wife just popped her head out of the door and asked if I was alright...) Apr 7, 2016 at 15:14
  • 1
    @horsehair Your lungs are never full of 100% CO2. It's always a mix and when you exhale, you are exhaling a significant amount of oxygen. If you are holding your breath with your lungs mostly empty, then you are needlessly starving yourself of oxygen. The slow exhale is so that you are keeping oxygen in your lungs longer than the fast initial exhale while also not having to rush your exhale all right before you breathe. Also holding your breath is uncomfortable. Apr 7, 2016 at 20:05
  • 1
    SO is a QA site/ "Teach a beginner swimming" does not fit the format well. best continue discussion in chat.
    – user5330
    Apr 11, 2016 at 4:20

If you can't do more than 20 meters your stroke is really bad and/or your breathing technique is bad. Bad swimming technique is incredibly exhausting, about the same a drowning. As a beginner you will need to breath on every stroke in order to get enough air. And as people have said here, you need to get all the CO2 out before the next breath, not easy to do at first. Try swimming with fins until you get the hang of the stroke. You won't struggle to stay afloat and the additional speed will make it easier to breathe.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.