I've got no ideas for you, strange that a pull buoy makes such a difference, do you try to swim faster without it ? or kick like crazy ?
I feel upper stomach tightness after about 60 metres, haven't worked out whether it's breathing stress, anxiety or just lack of swim fitness.
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I can imagine that before you get in the water that you have it on your mind(?). The negativity starts there and you carry it through with you in the water. So..
Before you get in the water, have a conversation with yourself: Acknowledge that you are going swimming and that you are going to break it down one length at a time. Don't worry about counting lengths etc at this point. Get in and swim a length. Rest as long as it takes to recover fully (i.e. easy breathing), and repeat. Do this at least ten times. You can get out at this point or carry on just doing one length at a time. That's the end of your first session. Keep doing this for a week or two (remember to have that conversation with yourself before you get in the water) until your recovery between each length shortens to say 5 seconds and/or the number of individual lengths that you are doing has increased over the time.
Breaking it down into smaller manageable chunks like this takes away the anxiety that often goes with swimming and lets you take control of your swimming. Don't worry about what others are doing around you.
After a few weeks, have that conversation with yourself before you get in the water that you are going to do at least one rep of two lengths. So, do a couple of single lengths and when you are ready, take a long rest and do at least on rep of two lengths. Recover and if you can manage it, do another one or go back to single lengths. Build slowly over time managing your anxiety before you get in the water.
Hope this helps a little. Have fun!
Northamptonshire based triathlon coach
So just build swimpower while you gradually decrease the size of your lolly.
JUst heaving a pull buoy in place already can give you mental relaxation.
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