View Full Version : Open water training advice?

09-19-2010, 04:32 PM
I've been practicing in open water, in a shallow and usually very calm part of the San Francisco Bay. (Coyote Point in San Mateo, for those of you who know the area).

My goal is to be able to swim any distance with relaxation. A mile would be great -- that would be two big loops around the pilings that mark out the swimming area here.

I've done many drills both in the bay and in a local pool, and they have helped a lot.

My problem is, like many people, with breathing. After reading two TI books and watching some videos and doing lots of drills, I think my form has improved a lot -- I'm much more streamlined and relaxed. But I'm still getting out of breath after 50-100 meters, and once I start getting very out of breath I get panicky and my form goes to pieces.

As a result I've been very nervous about swimming very far from shore. I like to stick close to shore where I can stand up and catch my breath if I need to.

Today I did about 1/4 mile in 15 minutes and was completely winded to the point where I felt like I couldn't continue working out effectively. It was totally, glassy calm water and a beautiful, warm morning, so the weather/waves weren't the problem.

Any advice for me?


09-19-2010, 06:50 PM
Hi Dylan

For what it's worth, my advice would be to carry on doing what you are doing, trying to relax as you swim and trying to breathe easily. The main secret of breathing in swimming, I believe is to breathe out while your face is in the water. Stay in the shallow water for the time being and work on your relaxation and breathing. It isn't possible to relax properly if you are worried or afraid. It probably won't be long before you find yourself more at home in the ocean, but keep an eye out for some of that aquatic wildlife you have in those parts!

09-19-2010, 09:07 PM
First, it is total baloney that this is a conditioning issue -- I am overweight, unfit, and asthmatic, and I can swim 2 miles without getting out of breath.

Either you are holding your breath, or you are holding tension in your chest.

For #1 -- immediately after inhaling, exhale continuously but relatively gently. For a long time, I would hold my breath after the inhalation. Don't do that. On the other hand, don't force the air out too fast, or try to get more air out of your lungs than is comfortable.

For #2 -- don't try to "tone" your body, or "extend your bodyline" -- imagine your body floating like a lily pad on top of the water. To generate your inhalation, as you bring your recovering arm forward it will open up your ribcage automatically -- if you are relaxed. If you feel tension holding your ribs down (or your shoulder hunched up, or your arm not moving freely forward) relax that tension, until ... the movement of your recovering arm opens up your ribcage for the inhalation.

Then, go back to #1.

09-20-2010, 04:22 AM
Thanks for the pointers, guys. Richard, I appreciate the encouragement.

John, I'm going to try that relaxed "floating like a lily pad" approach next time I swim! I've definitely been trying to stretch myself out to "spear" through the water, and maybe that has been making me too tense & inflexible.

01-23-2012, 08:30 PM
I'm an asthmatic too and actually started to get interested in open water swimming because I don't like the chlorinated water in pools too much. It tends to bother my asthma a little and makes it more difficult to breathe. As far as training, have you thought about getting one of those safety buoys for swimming in open water? They might make you less nervous knowing there's something to hold onto if you freak out or start panicking. I've been swimming since I was three and it kind of comes natural after a while. I wouldn't worry about speed but focus more on technique and relaxing. You need to feel comfortable in the water and it will be much easier. The more you panic or stress, the more difficult breathing will be and the quicker you're arms and legs will get tired out.

01-24-2012, 05:50 AM
There is probably a meter marker for breathlessness too. I thought I was a sufferer but around 350,000m of freestyle it just went away in a sort of gradual but accelerated way?

36 weeks x 5 times a week x 2000m per day = 360,000m

01-24-2012, 06:39 AM
I too am working on this and feel probably a week or two focusing completely on how you exhale in water could help to get rid of this problem.I found these tips in one of the swimming books(Mastering Swimming).Hope this helps.

Five tips for better breathing while swimming

When swimmers can breathe as easily in the water as on land, they can cover long distances faster and with less effort. When the body is relaxed, the breathing rhythm can be controlled throughout the changing phases of the stroke, making it easier to swim at higher speeds and stay relaxed.

According to Jim Montgomery and Mo Chambers, authors of Mastering Swimming, a swimmer who learns to breathe naturally will achieve a longer, more relaxed stroke. In their book they offer tips on mastering the art of inhaling and exhaling comfortably while swimming.

1)Relax. Relaxation of the muscles in the face, jaw, mouth, and neck is perhaps the most critical skill for proper breathing while swimming. Imagine how your facial muscles feel when you run or ride a bicycle. Your breathing should feel the same during swimming as during other aerobic activities. Swimmers who tense their faces in the water are most likely holding their breath underwater, which forces them to both exhale and inhale when they are above water. This inefficient air exchange creates anxiety and inevitably leads to exhaustion.

2)Exhale. As your face enters the water, your mouth should be slightly open with a trickle of air going out between your lips. Some swimmers exhale through the mouth and nose, while others exhale gently through the mouth only. Many swimmers find a nose plug allows them to breathe more comfortably. Select the method that is most comfortable for you.
It is important to blow your air out slowly. Exhaling too quickly will cause you to gasp in your next inhalation, which may make you hyperventilate. By exhaling slowly, you can develop an awareness of any facial tension, especially around your mouth, lips, and teeth. As your face begins to leave the water, increase your rate of exhalation, and expel the remaining air with a forceful puff. Many swimmers use both the nose and mouth for this crescendo in exhalation as they turn their heads to breathe.

3)Inhale. Inhaling is a natural reflex-it is quick but not forced. If you exhale adequately, air will flow in on its own. Again, most swimmers breathe in through their mouths.

4)Make your exhalation long. Your exhalation should be twice as long as your inhalation. A longer exhalation leads to a more relaxed exchange of air.

5)Donít panic if you breathe in water. If you gulp in water, shape your tongue as if youíre pronouncing the letter K. This tongue position keeps the water from going down your throat. Even the greatest swimmers breathe in water from time to time

02-10-2018, 11:20 AM
Practicing, being calm and maintaining your breath properly will make it possible, by following these points you can swim even more than a mile easily.