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rod280459
06-07-2014, 12:53 PM
I was wondering if anyone has a solution to a breathing issue that I am grappling with at the moment.

I suspect this is a common problem to male swimmers who may lack a little buoyacy (I am 90kg and fairly muscular but in my 50's so not bullet proof fit) I do run short of breath like many a novice, with my difficulty being able to comfortably roll to breath.

For example , when I do the nodding drill and look / roll sideways at 90 degrees I feel a long way below the water surface. When I do my normal freestyle stroke I feel like I am nearly rotated onto my back by the time my mouth clears the water to get a breath. I find the same thing when I try the sweet spot drill. Consequently the urge to lift the head to get air is enormous.

The good swimmers seem to be able to get their air by rotating sideways no more than 90 degrees - is this really true or am I mistaken ?

I am trying all the usual "fixes" namely, being patient with the lead arm (not pulling too early), using "wide tracks" , lead with elbow, relax, look straight down to bottom of pool to get the hips up - all the good TI stuff. I use a 2 beat kick.

Incidentally it is just about impossible to follow wide tracks when you rotate to the extent that I do.

I am determined not to lift my head so as a result, I swallow a lot of water when trying to get the breathing right - very frustrating.

I have heard suggestions like looking backwards a bit while breathing & trying to breath "into the trough" but my head is that low I feel like a submarine - I can't find a trough as my head is so low.

By the way, I am not spearing low and my head position is fairly neutral (ie. not pushing it down).

Interestingly this issue is not nearly as big a problem when I swim in salt water - the improved buoyancy get me closer to the air as I breathe.

My swim instructor (I have lessons from time to time) has run out of ideas - the ladies in our swimming group seem to float better and get the air much easier.

The problem is less when I increase my speed, but I can't sustain that level of effort for more than 100 meters.

I am trying to incorporate good rotation into my stroke (ie. swim on my side) - could this be causing me to sink ?

I am 5 ft 10 with SPL for 25 meter pool of 18 - 20 so pretty average in terms of efficiency, but not bad for an adult onset swimmer.

Any advice would be appreciated - I have seen others in my swim class struggle with the same problem

Thanks

CoachBobM
06-07-2014, 03:34 PM
Terry did some articles on breathing for Total Swim awhile back that might be worthwhile for you to read:

http://archive.totalimmersion.net/2005articles/february/breathing.html

http://archive.totalimmersion.net/2005articles/august/breathe.html

http://archive.totalimmersion.net/2005articles/november/breathing.html

http://archive.totalimmersion.net/2006articles/february/air.html

I'd particularly recommend looking at the pictures of Terry breathing in the first article. Notice how little of his face is actually above the water in the second picture.


Bob

rod280459
06-07-2014, 11:40 PM
Thanks Bob - I'll check this out

Rod

jafaremraf
06-08-2014, 02:56 PM
A couple of comments.... The more you rotate the easier it is to sink. My TI instructor told me that if the body rotates in alignment then it should rotate no more than bringing your belly button up to about 5 o'clock or 7 o'clock if 6 o'clock faces the bottom of the pool (or thereabouts). Maybe also keep air in the lungs as that helps buoyancy, forcing the air out just before your mouth breaks the surface of the water.

CoachStuartMcDougal
06-08-2014, 07:09 PM
Hi Rod,

Adding to jafaremraf's (excellent) response on correct rotation using clock positions and buoyancy. Often swimmers will empty lungs too quickly causing the body to sink. You need hold some air back without holding breath - very slow exahale. Empty lungs when rolling to breathe and quickly fill tank when nose/mouth breach surface.

Here's a video demonstrating what happens to the body exhaling too much too soon, as well as maintaining enough air in lungs for buoyancy: SwimVICE: Breathing and Buoyancy (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3VV4PwIBCQ)

Stuart
MindBodyAndSWIM (https://www.facebook.com/MindBodyAndSwim)

rod280459
06-09-2014, 03:12 AM
Hi Stuart & jafaremraf

I think you both have hit the nail on the head ! I am heading to the pool tonight very keen to try your suggestions. I have definitely been overrotating based on your comments & I definitely think I have been emptying lungs too quick (to try to get rid of CO2 build up).

I'll let U know how it goes.

What a great forum this is !

Rod

rod280459
06-09-2014, 12:41 PM
Just back from the pool after trying out the suggestions above re: avoid over rotation + exhale gradually then fully whist turn to breath did the trick. My problem was being too low in the water whilst turning to breathe. Keeping some air in the tank (but not holding your breath) prior to full exhalation turning to breath allowed me to stay higher in the water & made getting air much easier.

I've still got a lot of work to do (with timing the breath just right) but this tip from the forum has had some further benefits :

- Can relax a bit more (knowing the next breath is easier to get)
- More confident in getting the weight forward - knowing my lungs will support me if I have some air in them.

Hopefully someone with the same difficulty as me will benefit from this thread.

Thank you again
Rod

CoachStuartMcDougal
06-09-2014, 06:01 PM
That's great news Rod! A couple of more focals to use is "spear wide", and "spear deep" (below the lungs) on breathing stroke, i.e. spear wide/deep with left arm as chin follows right shoulder to air. This will help avoid over-rotation (spear wide) and maintain balance/stability (spear deep and wide). Often when we go to breath, it's natural for us humans to scoop spearing arm high toward the surface and reach narrow in front of head. Both cause instability and body will sink a couple or more inches - especailly us guys with heavy legs/hips.

Good luck - and enjoy the journey discovering easy and relaxed breathing.

Stuart
MindBodyAndSwim (https://www.facebook.com/MindBodyAndSwim)

jafaremraf
06-09-2014, 06:04 PM
That's great to hear Rod....... What is a little worrying is that your swim instructor ran out of ideas! You need to find a better instructor! Or get them TI trained ;-)

That vid posted by Stuart is an excellent demonstration of how breath affects buoyancy and I like the underwater view of Mandy swimming too.

Best of luck with your swimming.

Talvi
06-15-2014, 02:18 PM
Great video Stuart, thanks! The sight of Coach Mandy sinking (at 0:39) was a real eye opener. I'd previously discounted this effect as something minor. D'Oh! My changing breathing patterns during sessions could explain my inability to find consistency in my stroke!

So Rod, maybe your wish is granted :) I'm hopeful that as it worked for you I can get the hang of it too. Fingers crossed.

sclim
08-01-2014, 03:17 PM
That's great news Rod! A couple of more focals to use is "spear wide", and "spear deep" (below the lungs) on breathing stroke, i.e. spear wide/deep with left arm as chin follows right shoulder to air. This will help avoid over-rotation (spear wide) and maintain balance/stability (spear deep and wide). Often when we go to breath, it's natural for us humans to scoop spearing arm high toward the surface and reach narrow in front of head. Both cause instability and body will sink a couple or more inches - especailly us guys with heavy legs/hips.

Good luck - and enjoy the journey discovering easy and relaxed breathing.

Stuart
MindBodyAndSwim (https://www.facebook.com/MindBodyAndSwim)

As a heavy sinker with the same problems, I have been following this thread with great interest, and have used the advice to help my breathing development.

2 questions:

1) If the ideal trunk rotation is only to 7 o'clock, or half-past seven, that is 30 to 45 degrees on either side of neutral, how does that reduce water drag? The reduction in hull prow cross-section doesn't seem that all great. Would you get further reduction with further rotation? (Of course sinking occurs too, which would offset all gains I guess).

2) You say to spear deep and wide (on the opposite to breathing side) when breathing. Is the ideal to have a stroke rhythm (including head and neck depth in water and alignment) that is as close from stroke to stroke, including breathing and non-breathing? Or is that actually impossible to achieve?

CoachBobM
08-01-2014, 06:47 PM
As a heavy sinker with the same problems, I have been following this thread with great interest, and have used the advice to help my breathing development.

2 questions:

1) If the ideal trunk rotation is only to 7 o'clock, or half-past seven, that is 30 to 45 degrees on either side of neutral, how does that reduce water drag? The reduction in hull prow cross-section doesn't seem that all great. Would you get further reduction with further rotation? (Of course sinking occurs too, which would offset all gains I guess).

The buoyancy of the human body isn't all that high, so nearly all of your body is going to be underwater no matter how your body is rotated. Drag is primarily affected by the cross sectional area your body presents to the water in the direction you're moving. That's why it's so important to master being balanced in a horizontal position: If your hips sink, the water will push against the whole underside of your body as you move through the water. You also want to keep as narrow a body shape as you can.

The rotation of your body about the axis of your spine accomplishes several things: First, it enables you to recover your arm over the water, where it encounters much less drag (since water is 880 times denser than air). Second, it allows you to get a boost from gravity as your recovering arm slices into the water. Third, the rotation of your body helps to drive your body past your stroking arm.

Keep in mind that speed is the product of stroke length and stroke rate. While it is useful to temporarily slow down your stroke rate in order to perfect your stroke technique and maximize the distance you travel on each stroke, you want to practice a stroke that you will ultimately be able to execute at the faster pace you will want to use for racing. And the further your body rotates, the more of a limitation this will place on your potential stroke rate. So you want to rotate enough to get the benefits we discussed in the previous paragraph, but no further.

2) You say to spear deep and wide (on the opposite to breathing side) when breathing. Is the ideal to have a stroke rhythm (including head and neck depth in water and alignment) that is as close from stroke to stroke, including breathing and non-breathing? Or is that actually impossible to achieve?

A very perceptive question!

It is easy for a pause to creep into your stroking rhythm when you go to breathe. One of the benefits of practicing with the Tempo Trainer is that it makes you aware of variations in your stroking rhythm so that you can work on eliminating them.

The rule of thumb on head and neck depth is that you want to maintain as horizontal a body position as you can while still getting a breath. It may take some time for you to perfect this. You may initially need to spear a little higher when you are preparing to take a breath, but as you hone your breathing skills, you may find that you no longer need to do this, or at least not as much.


Bob

Talvi
08-04-2014, 04:34 PM
...It is easy for a pause to creep into your stroking rhythm when you go to breathe. One of the benefits of practicing with the Tempo Trainer is that it makes you aware of variations in your stroking rhythm so that you can work on eliminating them....

I can now fully support that! (see my videos (http://totalimmersion.net/forum/showthread.php?p=47973#post47973)- finally - arggh!! :D )

sclim
08-05-2014, 05:45 AM
It is easy for a pause to creep into your stroking rhythm when you go to breathe. One of the benefits of practicing with the Tempo Trainer is that it makes you aware of variations in your stroking rhythm so that you can work on eliminating them.
Bob

Thanks for all the detailed answers. They are very helpful.

Regarding the non uniform breathing stroke cycle, I actually discovered on my own the very thing you have described, almost as soon as I started using the TT. In fact that was THE first thing I discovered once I got used to synchronising my cycle (I used the initiation of my kick as the synchronisation point) exactly with the Beep.

Funny thing is, I noticed the next spear entry and kick following the right breathing stroke was premature, i.e. the right breathing stroke was MORE RAPID than the other strokes, rather than delayed by a pause, intentional or not. Yes, that confused me too, although at the time I soon accepted the idea, not knowing that the conventional breathing stroke error was for the breathing stroke to take longer to complete.

I am a terrible sinker, and I had always felt more comfortable breathing on my right. When I started TI, and started incorporating breathing back into my whole stroke (forbidden during the initial skate and switch etc drills), my left breathing was noticeably awkward and hit-and-miss.

So, in my puzzlement at what was going on, I really tried to pay as objective attention as possible to all the events of my strokes, breathing and non breathing, to try and sort out differences, the end aim being to restore equal time durations to all strokes.

The upshot was that I realised that my age old survival style had been to push down on the water at the beginning of my right breathing stroke. This helped my head bob up safely (for me) far enough out of the water to reassure me to easily catch a right side breath at the apex of the bob before bobbing down to its natural deep position.

I don't know if it makes sense to you, but somehow the diverting of energy from propulsion for that one stroke in six to upward head bob actually sped up that one stroke rather than delaying it. Maybe there was an element of anxiety about getting air, so there may have been an unconscious hurry up effect too.

I had tried unsuccessfully many times before to get used to a low mouth position on the waterline while breathing. But this was the final and ultimately successful incentive, because now I could see that this high breathing position was the underlying cause for the chopped off rhythm of this right breathing stroke. By focussing on gradually working on getting the mouth to the waterline, and then even partially below, I have drastically smoothed out the bob in my right breathing stroke until there is absolutely no variation in timing in this stroke. Whether or not there is any small residual bob I really can't say, because all I can see is the contrast from the huge bob, but it sure seems flat in comparison.

Oddly, the difficult left side has never been a problem in timing, whether longer or shorter. Ironically, because I guess I never got into the habit of regularly bobbing on the left side (it was a mixture of sometimes too high, then sometimes not high enough, but somehow achieved with a different mechanism that I haven't figured out, which did not affect the time duration of the stroke), I never learned that push down on the water bad habit on my left that I had to un-learn. (Maybe other bad habits that I haven't identified yet). I still have relative difficulty on the left breathing stroke, and I approach the left breath with a much lower degree of confidence than my right, but the left breath is now achieved also with quite a low mouth level -- so low that I botch the breath a significant percentage of time, but now it is merely a mild nuisance, rather than a disaster when I botch a breath.

So I can relate strongly to the TT uncovering variations in evenness of stroke and being a tool for monitoring improvement and correction of these errors!

Mike Wray
09-05-2014, 12:33 PM
I am reluctant to add an element of discontent to what is a very constructive and informative thread but I feel compelled to air a thought.

I am relieved that this thread has emphasised the importance of maintaining air in the lungs to maintain buoyancy. It has always seemed to me that this is necessary, being based on a physical fact. However I'm sure I have seen many times repeated in the past the contrary advice that you should breath out continuously underwater. I realise that there is a degree of compromise here regarding volume of air maintained in the lungs but I'm in no doubt that this sort of conflicting advice has caused confusion.

Another area of conflicting advice is the optimum degree of roll. It distinctly says in the original TI book that resistance is reduced by swimming on the side because of reduced frontal area, discrediting the old idea of staying flat. In this thread the advice is that since the body is mainly underwater anyway the frontal area is not much reduced by rolling to the side and it is preferable not to roll too far to maintain stability.

Talvi
09-08-2014, 02:19 PM
Hi Mike

Personally I've found the buoyancy issue overstated. I don't think it can be disputed that air changes the buoyancy but my experience is that these sort of minor changes to buoyancy have a slow impact whereas other changes are happening much much faster. In my case fwiw I am guided in my breathing by what feels relaxed and right rather than by the theory. If I concentrate on breathing there is an immediate negative impact.

The body roll advice I have found is not hard and fast except to have one shoulder+ out of the water. Swimming stacked on the side reduces buoyancy to a minimum as the body out of the water "weighs more" than the body in water. Doing so also increases the difficulties of balance and the risk of cross-over as well as increasing the time/activity in each stroke required to get so much rotation. I find there is a sweet spot which gets that spearing feeling without losing the rotational moment (force) given by offsetting the recoveing arm from the centre line.

Mike Wray
09-09-2014, 12:59 PM
Hi Talvi,

I agree with your comments. I think these sort of things become clearer with the benefit of experience.

I do generally support the TI method, particularly because I think it offers a very useful starting point for anyone, like myself, who is not a natural freestyle swimmer. However when reading the TI literature and various discussions on this forum I have often noticed areas where the advice given at different times is conflicting or even at odds with plain physical fact. I used to find this confusing and, from some of the questions asked on this forum, I am sure I am not alone.

Talvi
09-09-2014, 01:15 PM
... reading the TI literature and various discussions on this forum I have often noticed areas where the advice given at different times is conflicting or even at odds with plain physical fact...

No, not alone at all. What I've found is that I've figured out what TI meant after I'd learned what TI meant ... err, I mean I've learned how to do something and then got the: "Ahha, that's what that meant!" moment.

The mix of metaphor and instruction has been difficult for me to get a handle on when it hasn't accorded with what I've been experiencing, and this forum has been a fabulous resource to unravel things.

I've been struggling for an age with head position. The advice has consistently been low, low, low, despite what I've noticed in the videos. Now that I've bit the bullet and raised my head a bit, many things have improved really a lot.

Seems the low, low, low advice came from coaches finding a lot of people having a high head position. Problem for me though was it took about a year to realize that.

novaswimmer
10-02-2014, 06:53 PM
I've been struggling for an age with head position. The advice has consistently been low, low, low, despite what I've noticed in the videos. Now that I've bit the bullet and raised my head a bit, many things have improved really a lot.

Seems the low, low, low advice came from coaches finding a lot of people having a high head position. Problem for me though was it took about a year to realize that.

I've been working on getting my head in the right position for a quick breath now for -- maybe 4 months! For those of us who consider ourselves 'sinkers' (I know some think that's a dirty word), it becomes a very careful balance between maintaining streamline with the body, horizontal core, and rotating that head up just enough to catch a breath. I'm improving very slowly. Some days are better than others. Even some laps are better than others.

I'm finding when my head rotates enough to catch the breath, my body (shoulder area) soon sinks. So I have like maybe a half second to gulp some air. I have to breathe before my recovery arm leaves the water behind me, or just as it is rising, because if I wait until my recovery arm is out of the water very far, I REALLY sink due to the weight of it. Sometimes my arm throws water into my mouth and nose just as I breath in.

There was a woman swimming in the next lane (quite overweight) who could actually float upright (vertical body position) with her entire head above the water line! She was sort of like water-walking, but with no flotation device. Amazing! She could also swim forever too. While I don't really want to gain all that weight, I had just a bit of 'buoyancy envy'.

I'm curious about the degree of rotation (body and head) everyone incorporates when they take a breath. I think my body is probably rotating around 7 to 8 (if we use a clock, and 6 is the bottom of the pool). But my head is probably around 10. Is that too much? Should it be more at 9? I just suck water at 9. LOL! The more buoyant someone is, the lower their head rotation needs to be, I feel.

Talvi
10-02-2014, 07:18 PM
... I'm finding when my head rotates enough to catch the breath, my body (shoulder area) soon sinks. So I have like maybe a half second to gulp some air. I have to breathe before my recovery arm leaves the water behind me, or just as it is rising, because if I wait until my recovery arm is out of the water very far, I REALLY sink due to the weight of it. Sometimes my arm throws water into my mouth and nose just as I breath in.....

I don't think of myself as a sinker, as I have no real problem floating, but what you describe is my experience exactly. I found that having my head so that on rotation my face is at the 2:30.9:30 position i.e with eyes looking just forward of sideways was the key - no more water in my mouth, a much more relaxed breath etc etc.

novaswimmer
10-02-2014, 07:30 PM
I don't think of myself as a sinker, as I have no real problem floating, but what you describe is my experience exactly. I found that having my head so that on rotation my face is at the 2:30.9:30 position i.e with eyes looking just forward of sideways was the key - no more water in my mouth, a much more relaxed breath etc etc.

Yes, I noticed in one of Terry's videos of whole stroke freestyle (front-on perspective) that his head was more at a 9:30 position.

Here's what I 'think' I am doing (right image). This is only what it feels like to me, but without taking a video, or having someone watch me underwater, I guess I'll never know for sure. The water level may actually be higher in real life for me and my head may actually be more at 10 or 10:30.

http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h155/novaphotoguy/breathingposition_zps489c5b29.jpg (http://s63.photobucket.com/user/novaphotoguy/media/breathingposition_zps489c5b29.jpg.html)

Talvi
10-02-2014, 08:02 PM
Ahh I see what you mean. Your clock-face is vertical, whereas mine lies on the surface of the water.

The head/spne connection is a pretty complicated 3D geometry, so when the head turns there are a lot of possibilities. What I find is that when I turn my head it does not rotate in quite as "true" a way as shown in your diagram. If you compare Terry's head position (at the end of the PMF DVD for instance) and Shinji's (in that famous video of his), mine is now more like Terry's, slightly raised.

With my eyes looking a little bit forward as I turn, I get a feeling that my head is slicing through the surface of the water. Before it was flowing over my head!

The density of heads is so close to that of water that I don't believe it is possible to feel when it is truly "at rest" in the water. I just aim to cut out any effort I can. If you chopped your head off and threw it in the pool it would take maybe a minute or more to settle down into an equilibrium position so while swimming and rotating etc there really is no time to feel that position even if your neck muscles were sufficiently tuned and sensitive which I don't think they are. After all they're designed to hold 15lbs of mass, uncomplainingly, on a bendy pole, for 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, for 70+ years. A millimetre or two here or there is not something they're geared to pick up on imo.

In the water I find it all a really complex motion, so I'm focussed on the turned position more than the head down position (I just try to keep the head down position on line and still. I want it as relaxed as possible and to minimise any unnecessary twisting. Mostly now I look for the early breath, eyes looking just slightly forward, and my head cutting through the surface.

One other benefit I find with doing this, something which is only weeks old for me, is the confidence it has given me. I feel unsinkable when I do it!

I also think your diagram is missing the bow wave and trough which, even if moving very slowly, I think gives another 25-35mm space say in which to breathe.

novaswimmer
10-02-2014, 08:29 PM
I also think your diagram is missing the bow wave and trough which, even if moving very slowly, I think gives another 25-35mm space say in which to breathe.

I honestly can't feel or see a bow wave, so I left it out! LOL!

What do you do with regards to your 'horizontality' (if that is a word) of your head as you take your breath? Are you an A (perfectly horizontal), B (eyes up slightly) or C (chin up slightly)? I realize you said your eyes are a bit forward -- that's too hard for me to illustrate in this view. And yes, I understand the geometry is very complex. So I'm just working on one 'plane' at a time. There are three different planes that the head is capable of rotating in.

http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h155/novaphotoguy/headangle_zpscf85c6f8.jpg (http://s63.photobucket.com/user/novaphotoguy/media/headangle_zpscf85c6f8.jpg.html)

I would add that I'm also experimenting with a trickle exhale while my head is underwater, but then quickly exhaling the remainder just as my head comes up. I'm hoping this keeps at least some air in my lungs to give me better average buoyancy.

I'm trying to glean any kind of advice I can here, because not knowing if I will be sucking air or water makes me a lot less relaxed in the water.

novaswimmer
10-02-2014, 09:06 PM
Here's the final 'plane'.

The aspect of this figure is as if you were above the swimmer looking directly down at him as he is rotating his head up to catch a breath to his right side.

Talvi, would you say you are a 'B' -- eyes slightly looking forward?

http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h155/novaphotoguy/Lookupordowncopy_zpsd09564e0.jpg (http://s63.photobucket.com/user/novaphotoguy/media/Lookupordowncopy_zpsd09564e0.jpg.html)

Anyway, all this to say that I'll keep working on balancing body position, head position, minimizing drag and getting all these parts to work together. I think it will all come together over time. I can't recall who presented the analogy of swimming as creating a sculpture, but that is a very appropriate analogy. You sort of 'rough in' the form, individual parts, and then fine tune it over time. The drills only take you so far, because once you do 'whole stroke', a relearning process has to take place to get back in balance. And incorporating breathing throws everything off again.

My apologies to the original poster if I high-jacked this thread.

Talvi
10-03-2014, 08:53 AM
...You sort of 'rough in' the form, individual parts, and then fine tune it over time. The drills only take you so far, because once you do 'whole stroke', a relearning process has to take place to get back in balance. And incorporating breathing throws everything off again...

That's been my experience. At the moment I have the feeling that the worst of this one step forward two back part is behind me.

The drawings are great! I think I've tried all the six combinations and as you guess I'm now a double-B breather!

It would be great if you edited one of the two posts so the letters in one of them are lower case, or numbered instead of lettered to help use the diagrams as a general reference.

BTW I too never believed I had a bow wave. Thrn people said they saw it in my video, and I guess I could too, but I only experienced a bow wave when I changed my head orientation. Before that the bow wave was just drowning me. Now it is helps. The bow wave is there for everyone, and even if it is small, say 10mm, it significantly helps.

With exhaling I've found the best policy is to control it as little as possible while remembering that if you getbreathless it's most probably because you haven't exhaled enough - so the next stroke make sure you do - and then have your focus on the inhale. Getting stressed about breathing is the main problem with breathing. Strange but true :)

EDIT

Just realized I wrote this from previous swimming memory rather than from what I realized (yesterday) about my posture generally. I had thought I had been standing straight whereas in fact my head has always been angled slightly down/forward. I may therefore have been simply correcting for this in the water and while imagining my head was angled back it has actually just become straighter (going from C to A, not from A to B). Similarly my eyes have become habituated to looking slightly down, so the sensation of looking ahead might also be coming from this basic error in proprioception. What I know for sure however is that the corrections have worked a treat. So my recommendation would be that if the theory isn't working don't fret it. Try the six permutations and find what works for you - assuming of course that balance and streamlining are not adversely affected.

novaswimmer
01-01-2015, 12:57 AM
I've been working on this breathing thing a lot lately -- for months now.

Here's what seems to be working for me:

When I approach a breathing stroke, I actually rotate my body (belly button) more laterally than I do during a non-breathing stroke. I have to so I can reach air. Using this diagram...

http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h155/novaphotoguy/breathingposition_zps489c5b29.jpg

... during a breathing stroke, my belly button is probably at about 8:00 or so. Head is rotated to about 10:30, sometimes lower. That sounds like too much head rotation, but it's what I have to do to reach air -- at this point any way. During non-breathing, my belly button is probably around 7:00.



In regard to head 'horizontality',... this one:

http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h155/novaphotoguy/headangle_zpscf85c6f8.jpg

...upon breathing, my chin is slightly elevated as in 'C' with a popeye mouth shape. I'm working at this to reduce my head rotation (10:30) so much.



With regard to head 'attitude'... this one:

http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h155/novaphotoguy/Lookupordowncopy_zpsd09564e0.jpg

...My head is probably closer to 'C' when I'm breathing, but closer to 'B' in a head-down position between breaths.

So I guess right now, I'm a 10:30, C, C. LOL!

Talvi
01-01-2015, 03:50 PM
Great drawings novaswimmer :) but might I ask you to relabel them, or the last one anyway? Head and breathing are central imo and it would be a great help to my mind for posts on this subject to be able to refer to refer to the positions shown in an unambiguous and clear manner. The last two sets of pictures are difficult to use as the lettering in them is the same.

Personally I find the 9:45 position, for head roll at body rotation, as shown in your diagram, to be about right. It looks good on the diagram too.

However I find that if I adopt the C position for "horizontality", water gets up my nose. So if for no other reason than this I prefer position A or B. In the Thorpe video Andy recently posted he looks to me to adopt the B position.

With regard to the last diagrams of head "cant"/attitude (to my mind most important diagram) I find again that B is the best. With that position I find I get to air faster, breathe earlier and return to vertical faster and more smoothly. For me this position prevent my bow wave (such as it is!) flowing across my mouth as I reach the air - something which also delays my breath in the stroke cycle.

FWIW I find getting an early breath is highly beneficial to the entire stroke sequence.

novaswimmer
01-01-2015, 09:12 PM
Talvi,

I always appreciate your thoughts.

This breathing thing will likely be a 'work in progress' for quite a while longer.

I have to say that when I started all this back in February (2014), it seemed like it took forever to do one length of the pool (25 yds) in about 26 strokes. Now, I can easily do it in between 16 and 18 strokes and it seems to go by rather quickly. Of course I'm much more streamlined in my push off from the wall, so that helps too!

I still can only go about 50 yds, sometimes 75 before I get out of breath and have to rest. I've often wondered if there were no 'pool wall' whether I'd be able to go much further. That wall, turning and pushing off, seems to sap some energy, create 'stress' and pose a psychological barrier.

Edit: Forgot to address 'early breathing'. I'm trying to get a handle on what that means exactly. I mean, my timing to breath is very, very short or I sink. I usually breathe just as my recovery arm is just about to come up out of the water, and as my extended underwater arm is at full extension. As my body rotates (to skate -- let's say to the right), my head follows with it (as if it were welded in position), but then continues to rotate beyond that to air. Take a gulp and quickly rotate my head back to 6:00.

If I wait to breathe when recovery arm is OUT of the water, it seems that extra weight above the water pushes me downward into the water and air is further away.

Still trying to practice 'ease', good hydrodynamics. etc.

Talvi
01-02-2015, 02:25 PM
...
Edit: Forgot to address 'early breathing'. I'm trying to get a handle on what that means exactly. ...

It's a feel and position more than anything. It didn't come from the timing but rather the other way around. Modifying my head position, as I tried to describe with reference to your diagrams, has the result of an earlier breath etc. You have to change the head position not the timing. The timing will follow when the head psition is correct. Try what I described and I think you'll get it.

BTW 16/18 spl is very good after only 10 months, imo, but maybe you should let the stroke length increase while you get the breathing relaxed. Breathing is the key to being able to practice whole stroke. Focus on an effortlss balance in the water and rolling to the air, rather than reaching for the air and struggling to float.

All the best for 2015 :)

CoachStuartMcDougal
01-02-2015, 07:50 PM
I still can only go about 50 yds, sometimes 75 before I get out of breath and have to rest. I've often wondered if there were no 'pool wall' whether I'd be able to go much further. That wall, turning and pushing off, seems to sap some energy, create 'stress' and pose a psychological barrier.

Edit: Forgot to address 'early breathing'. I'm trying to get a handle on what that means exactly. I mean, my timing to breath is very, very short or I sink. I usually breathe just as my recovery arm is just about to come up out of the water, and as my extended underwater arm is at full extension. As my body rotates (to skate -- let's say to the right), my head follows with it (as if it were welded in position), but then continues to rotate beyond that to air. Take a gulp and quickly rotate my head back to 6:00.

If I wait to breathe when recovery arm is OUT of the water, it seems that extra weight above the water pushes me downward into the water and air is further away.

Still trying to practice 'ease', good hydrodynamics. etc.

Hi Novaswimmer,

The wall and turn is an interruption that can cause problems in breathing too. 1. Do an open turn to get more air, but most importantly, get a good streamline push not stroking too soon. Wait until you're on the surface (air on back), stable and level before you start your stroke. If you stroke too soon, this can throw you off balance, hips drop - anxiety & tension sets in, getting a breath is much more difficult. 2. After turn and good streamline push - take a couple of long (non breathing) strokes *before* getting your first breath of each length. Don't reach for air on first stroke. Both tips allow you to set up (or reset) your body position for a stable breath.

Second, "early breath". Don't make too much out of this in terms of where all body parts should be (belly button, head, recovery arm, clock positions, etc), makes it all that more complicated managing too many pieces. Just allow shoulders to do the breath timing: Chin follows shoulder to air until one goggle is above the surface. I wrote a coach blog early Dec so I don't need to repeat, and I don't think I've added this to this post (if I have forgive the redundancy), see: Breathing, it's Overrated! (http://totalimmersion.net/blog/breathing-overrated/)

Keep up the good work!

Stuart

Talvi
01-02-2015, 08:08 PM
... 2. After turn and good streamline push - take a couple of long (non breathing) strokes *before* getting your first breath of each length. Don't reach for air on first stroke. ...

Interesting and counterintuitive. I'll be sure to give this one a try.

p.s
With respect Stuart reading your blog illustrates how critical it is to know from what point we're starting. The model in it for instance has a much higher head psition that I had (until I posted my video and began working on it). If your head is very high i.e in a totally un-TI starting-out-beginners approach then head low head low head low is great advice, but, after you DO have a low head position then imho/experience it can be too low. If it is, as I found for nearly a year (until someone here gave me permission to change it!), then .. you need to change as just going lower doesn't further.

CoachStuartMcDougal
01-02-2015, 09:16 PM
Interesting and counterintuitive. I'll be sure to give this one a try.

p.s
With respect Stuart reading your blog illustrates how critical it is to know from what point we're starting. The model in it for instance has a much higher head psition that I had (until I posted my video and began working on it). If your head is very high i.e in a totally un-TI starting-out-beginners approach then head low head low head low is great advice, but, after you DO have a low head position then imho/experience it can be too low. If it is, as I found for nearly a year (until someone here gave me permission to change it!), then .. you need to change as just going lower doesn't further.

Hi Talvi, Yes head can certainly be too low, but then too - head and spine are out of alignment, i.e. tension in neck pressing head down and/or tucking chin to chest. This is a common problem as well when learning head and spine alignment. Often swimmer will press head down in response to "goggles down" focal point. Tension in neck is the source of problem whether lifting head, pressing head, or tucking chin.

I don't use "give permission", but rather encourage swimmers to experiment in both extremes until head/spine fall into alignment, every swimmer is different. Also, even my head wants to drift back up, especially in open water, often after sighting forward. I usually become aware of this when I start finding a bit more water than normal when breathing and my neck begins to ache after an hour or so. Then I may spend next 10+ minutes and return to "neutral head goggles down", "release neck" focal points. But those focals are personal to me and may not work for someone else.

Stuart

novaswimmer
01-03-2015, 01:59 AM
Hi Novaswimmer,

1. Do an open turn to get more air, but most importantly, get a good streamline push not stroking too soon. Wait until you're on the surface (air on back), stable and level before you start your stroke. If you stroke too soon, this can throw you off balance, hips drop - anxiety & tension sets in, getting a breath is much more difficult. 2. After turn and good streamline push - take a couple of long (non breathing) strokes *before* getting your first breath of each length. Don't reach for air on first stroke. Both tips allow you to set up (or reset) your body position for a stable breath.



Thanks Stuart! I will give this a try!

Talvi
01-03-2015, 10:09 AM
...I don't use "give permission", but rather encourage swimmers to experiment in both extremes until head/spine fall into alignment, every swimmer is different. Also, even my head wants to drift back up, especially in open water, often after sighting forward. I usually become aware of this when I start finding a bit more water than normal when breathing and my neck begins to ache after an hour or so. Then I may spend next 10+ minutes and return to "neutral head goggles down", "release neck" focal points. But those focals are personal to me and may not work for someone else.

Hi Stuart, and thanks for replying. I've attached two of novaswimmers diagrams (with changed labels) that help identify/clarify the various orientations being referred to in text.

I found that adopting position B while breathing gave better results than position A: earlier breath (faster turn down). I think this was because although my perception in the water was that I was in position A I was actually in position C. My correction may therefore have been from C to A rather than from A to B. The odd thing is that water flowed over my face in position C but not in position "B".

I find that trying to adopt position i. can lead to better balance than position ii, but that position iii. just results in water going up my nose.

In general my head tends to dive down, mostly because I naturally drop my head in response to certain actions (playing various sports ingrained this tendency).

FWIW, in refining head position, I haven't found the weightless head concept particularly helpful. Heads are appx neutral buoyancy so tend to stay pretty much where they are put, and the variance about this neutral buoyancy point is very small compared with the forces the neck is designed to deal with all the time. It takes several seconds for such small buoyancy effects to stabilize in the water and I have not been able to feel their impact within the space of a breath, or even using a ssnorkel and even if not swimming. While swimming though there are constant changes to head alignment arising from body rotation and breathing as well from the innate asymmetries of the head and the asymmetric forces ariseing from the oncoming water that have to be managed. These for me further hide any effect of weightlessness in fine tuning head position.

CoachStuartMcDougal
01-03-2015, 06:40 PM
Hi Talvi, Yes, Noaswimmer's illustrations are excellent, and certainly highlights how subtle positions are. But as you note what we perceive is quite different. I have had swimmers come in with position A, but the angle much greater at 20+ degrees. To help them correct I gave them focal point to bury forehead, chin high. The swimmer felt as if their forehead dropped 40 degs or more (i.e. to -20) in opposite direction, when in fact they just creeping into position A as illustrated.

"Weightless head" works for some, not others - it's another focal point to release tension in the neck. You don't want to "put the head in location" that requires tension to place, but rather wherever it falls is the correct location. The head is like a balloon, it doesn't take but a second for it to fall or bob into the correct position if you allow it.

A good drill to discover correct head position is go into torpedo (superman with arms molded to front of body, hands like in front pants pockets), feel neck is completely relaxed; now press face straight down with the neck (not chest) and hold for a couple of seconds; then completely release all tension in neck and let head bob up to its natural (weightless) state. This neutral released position is the correct head/spine position. In order to feel and execute this correctly however, torpedo/superman must be done properly - body level, air on shoulders, rump at or crowning surface.

Focal points help get each swimmer close to the correct position and will change over time. Focal points are not set in concrete and will be different from swimmer to swimmer based largely on the swimmers perception (what we feel in the water vs reality). Coach Mat Hudson just wrote an excellent blog on this very subject: Focal Point: A Tool, Not a Rule (http://mediterraswim.com/2015/01/03/focal-point-tool-not-rule/)

Stuart

Talvi
01-04-2015, 08:48 AM
Hi Stuart

The torpedo test sounds good. Thanks. My feeling is that my head has slightly negative buoyancy but I'll give it a try.

Mat sums up the problem many of us are encountering here, and the limitation of self-coaching, or at least coaching without video feedback, as does your story. Without seeing or hearing from you that their actual head position was B they'd have continued unable to correct. One of my "change mantras" is that if it feels comfortable then nothing's changed. The problem with that of course is that wrong things also feel uncomfortable - just in different ways! I hope to get some video in the next few weeks and to see some glaring misperceptions of my own.

BTW I think you mean that your swimmer had pos B and felt like they'd gone to pos. C but actually had gone from position B to A. Your story illustrates a problem with the diagram which applies to the second sequence as well as the first. Having the variants in current sequence makes it difficult to refer to the positions without constant reference to the diagrams as the intuitive sequence runs from minus through zero to plus, rather than from zero through minus to plus.

p.s
really loved these quotes of Matt:

A Focal Point is .. an analogy, a metaphorical image in your mind that is intended to approximate the correct control or movement, and get it closer to the ideal pattern. But the Focal Point image is not the actual pattern. It will get you close .. but then you’ve got to open your eyes (i.e nervous system) to recognize and grasp onto the real pattern repeatedly, and gradually internalize that into your neuro-muscular system.....

The list of Focal Points are not a literal whole, they are analogous parts, each which point to the same principles, but from a different direction.

I think that part in bold is what I often feel I am being encouraged to ignore. Perhaps it's time to try and disengage the training wheels and look just for the feel.

CoachStuartMcDougal
01-04-2015, 07:16 PM
Hi Stuart

BTW I think you mean that your swimmer had pos B and felt like they'd gone to pos. C but actually had gone from position B to A. Your story illustrates a problem with the diagram which applies to the second sequence as well as the first. Having the variants in current sequence makes it difficult to refer to the positions without constant reference to the diagrams as the intuitive sequence runs from minus through zero to plus, rather than from zero through minus to plus.



Hi Talvi - ahh right, you are correct. I meant position B where forehead is higher at +5 degs. Swimmers normally come in with more extreme +20 deg to even +45 deg head position. Getting them closer to neutral the swimmer will feel more of a radical C position (-20 degs), but actually just getting closer to position B around +5 degs. I don't think there's a problem with the illustration, it was my own perception automatically rearranged the order - funny.

Focal points, alter positions, determining what's wrong or right is very tough without video and/or a coach. What you can do self coaching, and will give you immediate and objective feedback is ask another swimmer in the lane to watch a specific part of your stroke. You will need to locate one who's not in the middle of a set, but in warm up or cool down phase where they don't mind sparing a couple of minutes

You will need to describe it (position, etc) succinctly which is always a good tool for your learning as well; limit your description to one or two short sentences. For example, ask the swimmer to watch only your hand entry on breathing stroke, i.e. left hand entry at 10 o'clock as chin follows right shoulder to air. Often the recovery arm/hand will drift into middle in front of head on breathing stroke. If that's the case, swim again with the focal point entering awkwardly wide, think extreme 9 o'clock entry and have them watch the actual entry position and give you that feedback.

This engagement and feedback will do three things, 1. Help separate perception from reality; 2. you will know if a change is wrong or right in that awkward or uncomfortable feeling in the new position; and 3. maybe most important, you've raised the curiosity of another swimmer and possibly made a new swim buddy :-) Paired swimming is one of the best and quickest ways to progress. I do this frequently (engage with a swim stranger) when I swim solo and working on a part of my stroke whether correcting or refining. I've made lots of swim friends and new clients as well :-)

Coach Mat's Focal Point blog is awesome, clearly written and very articulate. I always enjoy reading his blogs, very educational.

Keep up the good work!

Stuart

Talvi
01-05-2015, 10:16 AM
Thanks Stuart.

I am in a bit of an unusual position here, not being able to speak the language, but I have found that the coaches at the pool who I have chatted with and got to give me feedback just don't "see" things the same as TI. All, except one (who went off to join the Air Force!) want me to use more kicking, to stroke faster, to have a stronger pull, and to employ a 6bk for instance. I think this is the usual stuff. I lent one of them the PMF DVD and all she said was "nothing new". You can lead a horse to water etc. Nonetheless I can really see the benefits of having a swim buddy. Maybe I could advertise. That's a thought. There seem to be more people in the pools here these days who look like they're learning freestyle in a TI sort of a way (though not using drills) so ... well, hope springs eternal right?!

... I don't think there's a problem with the illustration, it was my own perception automatically rearranged the order - funny ....

I'm a designer so the way something is perceived, used or interpreted is the judgement of it that has the most validity and value. Criticism generates insight and improvement, right? :)

CoachStuartMcDougal
01-05-2015, 06:44 PM
Thanks Stuart.

I am in a bit of an unusual position here, not being able to speak the language, but I have found that the coaches at the pool who I have chatted with and got to give me feedback just don't "see" things the same as TI. All, except one (who went off to join the Air Force!) want me to use more kicking, to stroke faster, to have a stronger pull, and to employ a 6bk for instance.


Yeah - I understand. I think you can still ask being swim philosophy agnostic, swimmers don't need to be TI - and it could be anyone really, novice or even someone watching on deck (lifeguard, etc). Just be specific on instruction on what to watch for and what they see to give you that feedback. If they go off on other parts of stroke or kick, just reply politely thanks, and repeat the specific question that you originally asked. This too will work to your advantage since the one observing will see how entire body position will change with subtle changes which will raise even more curiosity. Once you've established a swimmer peer/buddy, this immediate feedback will be much more valuable than waiting to watch the video and that's when/if you can get one. Keep trying, you will eventually find a willing spirit or two.

Talvi
01-05-2015, 09:46 PM
Then the problem is what to ask them to focus on as I'm not sure what it is that's wrong at the moment. But it is a nice idea to ponder. I'll try to figure out what to ask of them. It'll have to be simple, like: flat unbending body position, amount of shoulder out of water on each side, hand entry point, feet at the surface ... how do those sound?

A lot of stuff, like head psotion, is much more subtle than can easily be communicated: how low is too low, how high is too high, and more!

As you did with the drawings, we believe we see what is there and yet we actually see what we believe to be there. When we've seen an exemplar, and have the ahah moment, our eyes open and then it's so obvious we can't believe we didn't see it all along!

CoachStuartMcDougal
01-07-2015, 05:53 AM
Then the problem is what to ask them to focus on as I'm not sure what it is that's wrong at the moment. But it is a nice idea to ponder. I'll try to figure out what to ask of them. It'll have to be simple, like: flat unbending body position, amount of shoulder out of water on each side, hand entry point, feet at the surface ... how do those sound?

A lot of stuff, like head psotion, is much more subtle than can easily be communicated: how low is too low, how high is too high, and more!

As you did with the drawings, we believe we see what is there and yet we actually see what we believe to be there. When we've seen an exemplar, and have the ahah moment, our eyes open and then it's so obvious we can't believe we didn't see it all along!

Hey Talvi, All excellent questions. It's difficult for the casual observer or even long time swimmer to notice arching of the back, how much shoulder above the surface, stacking, position of feet, etc. But I'll give you what I observe each time I go to the pool and study the crowd of lap swimmers. These observations I believe most anyone can recognize whether swimmer, non swimmer, coach or not:

1. Head position: Can I read the logo or words on the cap? Can I see the cap at all; is it buried below the surface? Or is cap just crowning surface? Does head remain still, or bob up and down on each stroke?

2. Recovery arm: Does recovery arm lay flat and splash, or does recovery arm slice in fingertips first, wrist, then elbow? Does recovery arm enter in front of head or in line with shoulders, i.e. 10 & 2 o'clock where head is center of clock?

3. Hips and body-line: Are hips crowning surface on each body rotation? Do I see a straight spine or lateral spine twisting with head and hips consistently out of alignment on each stroke?

4. Economy of movement: Is the stroke busy or not? Does swimmer have lots of movements or fewer movements? Is there a lot of effort/strokes or ease of movement?

You don't have to be a coach or even a swimmer to recognize and give feed back on 1 - 4 above. #4 is more subjective, but each will be perceptions, so having more folks observe will help separate reality from perceived reality. Understanding where the source of the problem is a whole different process of course and requires trained eyes. But use the feedback to your advantage to help you identify the source of the problem and experiment with measures to correct and refine.

Stuart

Talvi
01-07-2015, 12:45 PM
Thanks Stuart, I'll bear those in mind, concentrating on 1-3 as the (only) comment I get is that I'm doing ok regarding 4.