Advice on breathing please

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lp1958
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Advice on breathing please

Postby lp1958 » Tue Oct 23, 2012 8:06 am

Hi,

I'm an ex cyclist and I've been swimming properly for two months now. Thanks to Swim Smooth my progress has been amazing. I honestly can not thank you enough.

I believe my swimming style firmly lies with the Arnie camp.
As a beginner I pretty much have a blank canvas so I'm trying to do as much as I can correctly.

I'm doing my best to keep my legs up. I'm getting there.
I do have a tendency to slightly lift and over rotate my head when breathing to the right hand side (I'm right handed) but I'm doing my best to correct this.

I'm breathing bi-laterally every 3rd stroke and I can now swim indefinitely at a variety of stroke rates. This is a major break through for me.

What I do do is breath in short bursts, once per stroke. I find this both comfortable and maintainable. I am well aware that this wrong and is not helping balance my legs or stroke.
I've tried and tried to breath continously through my mouse and or nose and after a few strokes my breathing gets really laboured. This happens whether my stroke rate is quick or slow.

Has anyone any suggestions as to what I may be doing wrong.

Thanks for your time.
Dave

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gavinp
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Re: Advice on breathing please

Postby gavinp » Tue Oct 23, 2012 11:50 am

Hi Dave

It sounds like your on the right path :)

Do you exhale as soon as your head is in the water?

I would say that, as you are still in the process of learning bilateral breathing it will feel awkward and laboured still. It does take time to learn new things - especially if you have been swimming with a breath every stroke over a number of years. It's a very different process.

A major element is the timing of it all. As soon as your head is in the water, breath out in a relaxed way - don't force it out (I suspect your tensing up and really pushing the air out as hard as you can..?), which is why (i think) it gets hard for you to do after a short period of time.

Try that and see if that helps.
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lp1958
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Re: Advice on breathing please

Postby lp1958 » Tue Oct 23, 2012 1:29 pm

Hi Gavinp,
Thank you for the advice.
Yes I do try to breath as soon as my face is in the water. I definitely wouldn't say it is relaxed though :D

I shall try tomorrow night.

I actually feel more relaxed breathing bi-laterally than any of my previous attempts at swimming. But as you say I haven't been doing it long and will certainly perserver with the relaxed continuous breathing.

Cheers
Dave

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gavinp
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Re: Advice on breathing please

Postby gavinp » Tue Oct 23, 2012 1:47 pm

Have you ever tried the sink-down drill? see:

viewtopic.php?p=8915#p8915

Do a few of these before you start to get yourself in the right frame of mind.

:D
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Northamptonshire based triathlon coach
http://www.trisomi.co.uk

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SharkFM
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Re: Advice on breathing please

Postby SharkFM » Fri Oct 26, 2012 8:17 am

I am working on "breathing phenomena" and researched around the net for people who have the same issue. Found some good simple advice
Like many who are puzzled - I am in shape, can run, skate(hockey), ride all day long. Breast stroke is fine, comfortable in the water. I used to be able to swim forever underwater as well (I once free dove like 70ft+) but lost that serious capacity about 10 years ago. But still it's decent.

So tonight 1. I starting singing or doing the humming thing to control exhale, and 2. didn't not inhale until my pull was past my turned shoulder, so the chest is not restricted due to muscular force, then a short quick breath and back to singing.

Worked like a charm. Didn't get that feeling of constantly being "gassed".

lp1958
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Re: Advice on breathing please

Postby lp1958 » Fri Oct 26, 2012 10:26 am

Hi, Thank you SharkFM for your suggestions.

I have not heard of the humming or singing method. Could you let me know more details.

I've been trying all week to smooth out my breathing and I didn't realize until just now but I'm sure your right about breathing later in the stroke. It definitely appears I do my best breathing when I leave it later to turn my head. So far I've only been doing this by accident and I've not made a point of it before but I will do in future. My chest is very tight, that can't be right.

Cheers
Dave

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SharkFM
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Re: Advice on breathing please

Postby SharkFM » Fri Oct 26, 2012 5:32 pm

For the record, the human body cues off CO2 Levels and not what it needs which is O2. So the body & mind can get easily confused. In extreme cases you can die, which happened in the IMNY and USAT Nationals. Now today I timed how i was breathing on land-based activity it's roughly 50% inhale 50% exhale in terms of time. The "natural" breathing flow permits the optimum exchange of gases, including (but not limited to) CO2. So if you could breathe every pull, like the breast stroke you are golden - no re-programming necessary. This is why I can take-on my daughter and wife in BS with little or no training. Last summer off the dock I raced my daughter 50M in FS and not only got stomped I seriously nearly drowned. My wife who's HC of the swim club said "you'll never win you don't have the breathing". She's right but what does that mean? :?

So freestyle at minimum we are what say ~ 70% exhale, 30% inhale. The balance is off. So to optimize the gaseous exchange you need to bleed the air out in a ultra-controlled fashion and time it so it's linear and exhausted just at the point of the inhale. Who does that? When we sing we do that. You exhale the lyrics, grab a breath and keep singing. Jump around stage with the axe, no problem, singers are usually in pretty good shape and don't fall over "gassed".

The easiest quickest way to meter an exhale is to sing it, and having played in bands and sang all my life that is something that is very easy for me to relate to. I thought it was goofy but damn it works.

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Re: Advice on breathing please

Postby woody » Fri Oct 26, 2012 8:22 pm

Hi Shark
Have you got the lyrics to your song or any particular ones with the right timing ?My fave on land is Take it Easy Eagles but it doesnt work in the water.Would love to try something beside bubble bubble ....
Woody
Everything is won or lost inside your own head.

The best time to learn to swim was a long time ago the second best time is today

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SharkFM
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Re: Advice on breathing please

Postby SharkFM » Sat Oct 27, 2012 7:21 pm

Not singing any tunes yet... just a mid C or D (not too high not too low)

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SharkFM
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Re: Advice on breathing please

Postby SharkFM » Tue Oct 30, 2012 1:03 am

An update on breathing theory. I decided to test during biking and a short jog.

So got out there on the road and forced myself to breathe 6-7 counts (or as long as I could) out and allow only 2 counts to breathe in. To loosely simulate swimming.

Well I got gassed pretty quick. I was right back in the pool..and there was really nothing I could do to correct! For example if I took a bigger breath in, or tried to force air out, just aggravated the "gassed" condition. So after about 5 km I got a breathing pattern nailed and sustainable. 4 beats out 2 beats in, total a 6 beat waltz. Next 5K kept my head in it, no problem. If I made a mistake had to reset with a set of 50/50 and get back on the 4 - 2 count.

Got me thinking about the heart & lung pumping system. There has to be a rythmn or frequency that the breathing rythmn must tie or dovetail into to allow for a steady state operation. You might visualize this as juggling one ball (normal breathing) vs two or three balls in the air (swimming) -something that takes practice to get down.

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Re: Advice on breathing please

Postby Twostage » Tue Oct 30, 2012 4:34 pm

lp1958 wrote:Hi,

I'm an ex cyclist and I've been swimming properly for two months now. Thanks to Swim Smooth my progress has been amazing. I honestly can not thank you enough.

I believe my swimming style firmly lies with the Arnie camp.
As a beginner I pretty much have a blank canvas so I'm trying to do as much as I can correctly.

I'm doing my best to keep my legs up. I'm getting there.
I do have a tendency to slightly lift and over rotate my head when breathing to the right hand side (I'm right handed) but I'm doing my best to correct this.

I'm breathing bi-laterally every 3rd stroke and I can now swim indefinitely at a variety of stroke rates. This is a major break through for me.

What I do do is breath in short bursts, once per stroke. I find this both comfortable and maintainable. I am well aware that this wrong and is not helping balance my legs or stroke.
I've tried and tried to breath continously through my mouse and or nose and after a few strokes my breathing gets really laboured. This happens whether my stroke rate is quick or slow.

Has anyone any suggestions as to what I may be doing wrong.

Thanks for your time.
Dave

Hi Dave,

You sound a bit like me. I bike and run and have recently (last three weeks) taken up swimming. Three weeks ago I could do one length which had me gasping for breath. Two days ago I did 28 and only stopped because they were closing the pool. As everything about the crawl was alien getting into bilateral (every third stroke) was relatively easy. Unlike you, though, I can only swim perpetually with a slow stroke rate. Normally when I'm running or biking hard I pant, I go through a 'I'm going to have to stop because I've got no breath' phase and then my body adapts and I'm breathing comfortably. It's frustrating that I can't do this whilst swimming. I'm sure if I could pant then I'd be able to swim faster for longer but that would involve breathing water :(.

There must be a solution...

Stuart
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Re: Advice on breathing please

Postby Stuart » Wed Oct 31, 2012 12:27 am

If you are gasping for air and having difficulty making it a length, it's not because you're not in shape, it's becaue you are dragging your body (and probably lateral spine twist too) across the pool - Arnie style. Hips sinking, frantic legs, spine twisting, changing stroke to breath - you may as well be swimming with a parachute. Learn to balance on your lungs, doesn't matter the capacity - get level first, minimize the drag. Your stroke should not change to take a breath, maintain head spine alignment, *low* forehead, only one goggle out to breathe, most of your skull should be in water. A common problem is lifting head to breathe (we are terestrial mamals after all). Try to roll head with torso, get breath early. if chin is higher at surface than the forehead, breathing is very easy. You must be ready to inhale once nose and mouth breach surface, not exhale then inhale. Empty lungs as you roll for your breath. But you cannot get to this level until you are level in the water, spine in alignment with no twist, and don't alter your stroke to breath (i.e. pushing lead arm down to lift head to breath). Aquatic breathing is easy, take all the air you need. Terestrial breathing in an aquatic environment is *really* difficult to do.

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SharkFM
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Re: Advice on breathing please

Postby SharkFM » Wed Oct 31, 2012 12:45 am

The fundamental is a breathing technique ->lung/transport issue due to the timing imposed by being in the water. Extra air won't help! It has to be in sync with the lungs & heart. Was talking to a senior coach about it this morning.

If you put a floaty wetsuit on, you will still have the same issue! With a good suit your are horizontal.

In fact when I started lap swimming last spring & hit this wall, I used a FINIS snorkel as a workaround, because this was the only way to keep going in the pool. In june 2012 I even used a side-draft snorkel in a 1000M Triathlon swim & finished a solid mid pack! This was my very first OW race. About 6 weeks after that I was able to ditch the snorkel and swam 1600M ("the Ocean mile") in rolly seas. Got 3rd place in the "open class". Bad start and got off course due to poor vision using TYR pool goggles.

You gotta start from scratch, in our swim club i'd be in the Bronze group.

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Re: Advice on breathing please

Postby Stuart » Wed Oct 31, 2012 8:58 pm

SharkFM wrote:The fundamental is a breathing technique ->lung/transport issue due to the timing imposed by being in the water. Extra air won't help! It has to be in sync with the lungs & heart. Was talking to a senior coach about it this morning.

If you put a floaty wetsuit on, you will still have the same issue! With a good suit your are horizontal.

In fact when I started lap swimming last spring & hit this wall, I used a FINIS snorkel as a workaround, because this was the only way to keep going in the pool. In june 2012 I even used a side-draft snorkel in a 1000M Triathlon swim & finished a solid mid pack! This was my very first OW race. About 6 weeks after that I was able to ditch the snorkel and swam 1600M ("the Ocean mile") in rolly seas. Got 3rd place in the "open class". Bad start and got off course due to poor vision using TYR pool goggles.

You gotta start from scratch, in our swim club i'd be in the Bronze group.


Well, for unbalanced swimmers, the wetsuit does help raise the hips. But I've see many with $500+ suits on, hips still dragging several inches below surface due to being way off balance still scrambling for o2. And that goes for the pull buoy too. Many triathleltes try to buy their way out of balance, there's no subsitute. Getting level is a prerequistie, head spine in alignment - and holding that position with little or easy kick without the aid of artificial buoyancy is imperative to learn and refine. Using the snorkle to help imprint good position, practice swim exhale/inhale, but eventually you need to ween off of it. Breath timing is critical, yes -you have to get it early before recovery arm returns forward. But this is all moot if you are not level & hips dragging (wetsuit/buoy or not), frantic bicycle like kick burning up o2 and causing hips to sink even more. If you are balanced, head and spine aligned, & maintain that alignment as you roll to breathe (chin high, forehead low) and getting breath early at end of body roll - then aquatic breathing is very natual and quite easy.

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Re: Advice on breathing please

Postby woody » Wed Oct 31, 2012 11:12 pm

Hi Stuart
I found your post interesting and perfect sense.It has made me go back to basics re alignment but am struggling with what you refer too as aquatic breathing chin high etc. I have been taught two ways to hold my head firstly by TI looking straight down to a mirror on the bottom of an endless pool and then at swim therapy to look foreard at a mirror angled at 45 degrees.Then in both cases roll to air looking slightly backwards
I have adopted the slightly looking forward approach and was practising thinking about your post trying to roll and see where my chin was going and of course my head lifted slightly .I then started trying to correct this by concentrating on my chin position but it meant as i rolled i also had to lean my head into the water to get my chin up .
Not sure i have explained very well but could you expand on how to end up with the chin up position for aquatic breathing
Regards Woody
Everything is won or lost inside your own head.

The best time to learn to swim was a long time ago the second best time is today

Stuart
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Re: Advice on breathing please

Postby Stuart » Thu Nov 01, 2012 12:28 am

Great question Woody. Yes, forehead lower, chin higher (the feeling of it anyway) when one goggle is above the surface getting the breath (I call it "aquatic breathing"). And yup, goggles down on non breathing strokes, keeping head-spine in alignment. Looking forward head spine are no longer in alignment, forehead facing forward and when you roll to breathe, forehead will be (much) higher than chin as a consequence - thus makes it much harder to breathe. Same with unbalanced body, sinking hips, body is pitched back, forehead will be higher. You will see this a lot in the pool; look for lots of cap and both goggles above surface and is caused form looking forward rolling to breathe, hips down (not level) pitching head up, or combination of the two. Here's a pretty good video (below) I found on youtube, he mentions imbalance and the impact on breathing. But implicit is head position too, goggles down and not looking foreward on non breathing strokes. He doesn't menton the bow wave, - but the context this video is body aligmnent, balance, and its affects on breathing. The bow wave is a the trough around your mouth created when moving forward. So with one goggle out, nose and mouth breaching surface, head/spine in alignment (forehead low) - take all the air you want. It really is that simple and easy :-)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cO-4HzHsAsw

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Re: Advice on breathing please

Postby Twostage » Thu Nov 01, 2012 10:11 am

SharkFM wrote:About 6 weeks after that I was able to ditch the snorkel


I had considered using a snorkel but wasn't sure my pool would allow it, the six weeks bit gives me a problem being an Arnie I want it to happen fast ;)

Yesterday I was forcing my head down whilst breathing so my chin was up and noticed three things -

The noise of the water in my downward ear (that ear must have been breaking the surface)
I had less time to breath as the water was coming into my mouth, strangely this was ok though
My momentum was preserved and I was quicker :)

I was going to do some kicking on my side drills today. Found the video below which goes through a good sequence from arm out, both arms by your side etc. gradually building to a full freestyle stroke.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFmrgGTU ... ata_player

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Mike A
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Re: Advice on breathing please

Postby Mike A » Thu Nov 01, 2012 12:15 pm

Couple of points to add. Firstly, not lifting the head will also help to create the bow wave, because more frontal cross section of head will be pushing the water. Secondly, it makes sense to breathe earlier rather than later, because the bow wave will be at its biggest just after the strongest phase of the pull on the breathing side. As a bonus, personally I find I get a better pull on the non-breathing side if I can get my face back in the water before pulling. Breathing early allows a bit more time to do this.
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Harrybeardie
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Re: Advice on breathing please

Postby Harrybeardie » Thu Nov 01, 2012 7:42 pm

Looked at the video advised, brilliant sequence of drills to improve body position and breathing technique, thanks for posting it, the progression was particularly good. I am at present trying to convert to bilateral breathing and I tried some of these sequences at the pool today. I have been using the head position of looking to the end of the pool but today I looked down at the bottom and as advised returned my head to that position directly after i breathed, I found my balance felt so much better and it allowed me to breathe and pull better as well. I attempted unico for the first time on my good side. Only managed 18 metres and it felt strange but with new head position feel I may get there. Being very strict only bilateral breathing so mainly drilling, but again doing the single arm drill with new head position I felt I breathed to my non dominant side so much better. An important point appears also to be letting your head turn first with your shoulders following so you get your mouth clear to breathe. Harry

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Re: Advice on breathing please

Postby woody » Thu Nov 01, 2012 8:33 pm

Thanks Stuart I will return to looking down . I had changed cos i was told to have head at 45 degrees as in this

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDlvwyOM ... ontext-cha

He says head down causes drag what do you think?
Everything is won or lost inside your own head.

The best time to learn to swim was a long time ago the second best time is today


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