Asthma UK community forum

Chest pain when swimming

Hi, my son - aged 9 - has been saying for a while now (several months) that it's painful to do breast stroke swimming as it hurts his chest - he says it feels like his lungs feel under too much pressure - he prefers to swim on his back, also front crawl seems fine. It's just lying on his front doing the breast stroke movements and feeling flat in the water that hurt him and he says he feels scared he won't be able to breathe.

I've said does it feel like he needs his blue inhaler and he says it's not that kind of feeling.

Does anyone have something similar - I'm wondering if it's do with asthma?

He really loves swimming, we go twice a week when we can.

he does have a Harrisons sulcus chest (a kind of groove the bottom part of the chest; has had it for years) - could this be a reason why he can't do that stroke?

Will be really grateful for any info anyone may have.

4 Replies

I used to competitively swim and I used to find that backstroke was the easiest stroke to do with asthma as you could breath normally and was easier to do when asthma was playing up. Freestyle was ok for asthma and used to vary breathing from every three strokes to four or just hold breath on sprint races. Used to find breastroke a nightmare with asthma as breathing in on every stroke and this aggrevated the asthma. Also increased breathing rate can cause hyperventilation. Wondering if the chlorine levels in the pool could be an aggrevating factor...



Hi there

Yeah i totally agree i have only just posted a message about swimming myself. I too do feel when i do breast stroke that my chest feels slightly crushed. I do feel it is to do with the pressure of the water on his chest. Back stroke is alot easier i feel.

Hope that helps.



I get muscle spasm type pain, where it hurts from the base of my throat down along my sternum when I do breaststroke, and it feels like it's hard to breathe because all the muscles feel tight.

I think what's happening is I do breaststroke, generally, with my head out of the water and facing forward, which puts all those muscles under tension, then with the added effort of the swimming, they start to cramp.

I wonder if there's a similar thing happening with your son?


Hi everyone -thanks a lot for your comments - it is really useful and reassuring to know other people have experienced similar and that you have also felt this type of discomfort.

I can see he doesn't do breastroke in a correct way so I may see if I can get a swimming instructor to help him on a one to one basis - he's quite apprenhensive of things to do with breathing generally due to his asthma and I am sure thinkgi he has to breathe 'correctly' is another worry for him.


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