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-   -   1 length to 1 mile in 2 weeks - by changing my breathing (http://www.totalimmersion.net/forum/showthread.php?t=669)

Nicodemus 08-10-2009 12:58 PM

1 length to 1 mile in 2 weeks - by changing my breathing
 
Hi Folks,
I want to share my recent breakthrough in the hope that other people can make similar progress. Two weeks ago I could only manage 1 length (33m) of freestyle without a rest. Yesterday I swam 1500m non-stop; and could have easily done more.

The breakthrough happened when I was helping my teenage daughter to improve her swimming. She was 'taught' at school. The National Curriculum requirement here in the UK is merely that a child can somehow swim 25m. I realised that she could barely manage this, and had no idea about technique.

So I started coaching her to do a proper breaststroke (which I have always been good at). I got her to put her head down and streamline. But she was still exhausted after just one length. Then I noticed she wasn't exhaling through her nose - she was holding her breath. So I explained the obvious fact that you need to breathe out before you can breathe in.

But she couldn't break the habit. She understood mentally, but her instinct (and fear?) were in control. So I needed a different approach...

We went to the shallow end, and practiced calm relaxed breathing for a few minutes. This is something we take for granted in our daily lives, but I wanted to focus her attention on the experience of breathing comfortably.

Then we started exhaling into the water. We stood up to breathe in, then submerged to breathe out. At first she was a bit erratic. But we stuck with it till she settled down. Think about this question - how long could you breathe like that??? The answer should be all day long!!! If not, then you can't be breathing naturally.

Once she was comfortable with that we headed into deeper water. Just bobbing up and down, breathing in and out. In fact we "bounced" all the way to the deep end. I emphasised that the goal was to stay relaxed all the way - there was no hurry. (Previously she had the back-to-front idea of trying to reach her goal before she got too exhausted.) When we reached the other end she was totally relaxed, not panting.

So then we swam back...with her maintaining the same relaxed deep-ish breathing. Her stroke count dropped from about 38 to 18!!!

Then I started noticing other people's breathing: lots of them were taking short strangled gasps - even those swimming with their heads up. (In fact, especially those people) I realised that we instinctively tend to overfill our lungs and take short shallow breaths - so no wonder we get so tired. This tightening of the chest is something we have to learn to relax.

So feeling like a proud father, I returned to practicing my own (TI) swimming. As usual I would follow each length of freestyle with a length of breaststroke to get my breath back - and then I had that "Light Bulb" moment! Why did I need to get my breath back??? The answer must be because I was making the same mistake.

Like many people I had been brainwashed with all sorts of nonsense about how to breathe in freestyle. And even after the TI workshop, my subconscious was still clinging to those old ideas. What I realised is that I needed to take the same comfortable breaths in freestyle as I do in breaststroke. And in particular I noticed that due to tension, I was not exhaling enough. The problem was NOT that I couldn't get enough air in - it was that I needed to get it out. And ironically I was making the problem worse by rushing my breathing - I actually needed to slow it down.

So I started swimming almost in slow motion, with my sole focus on deep(-ish) relaxed natural breathing. And that was the start of the transformation. From that moment on, I didn't need a breastroke length to recover. At first I would need a few yoga breaths after each length. But then I slowed down even more - determined to finish each length as comfortably as I started it. (The opposite of trying to reach the other end before you fall to pieces - my goal was not to allow myself to fall to pieces at all).

This all started two weeks ago. Yesterday I swam a mile freestyle, in total comfort. (In 40 minutes)

So my advice is to forget all those complicated ideas you might have heard about breathing. Get in touch with your own natural breathing, and take that into your drills as a focal point. Good Luck!

madvet 08-10-2009 08:12 PM

I think this posting should get posted automatically whenever someone says: "I am out of breath after one or two laps. How do I get into shape to go farther?" It has nothing to do with fitness, it is 99% breathing.

These changes in breathing seem counterintuitive to the breathing used in most "land-based" sports but they are absolutely essential to achieve sustainability no matter what pace you are training for.

Mike from NS 08-11-2009 12:02 PM

Nicodemus,

This is really helpful to me and I'm sure to others. I think this is the solution to my swimming difficulties. Even after 3/4 the way down the pool I fall apart despite the first few breaths have been good. For some reason after these first few good relaxed breaths I suddenly need air - probably because I lost focus or confidence. I hope the soon to be new conference,"The Power of Mindfulness" will share situations like you did here because this has been really helpful. All common sense - but greatly helpful in a practical sense.

Mike

terry 08-11-2009 01:31 PM

There are so many valuable points made here:
1) Truly this post should be the first item read by anyone who makes a query about being unable to catch their breath. If you agree with John Carey on its value, go to "Rate Thread" at the top and give it 5 stars.
2) A key principle here which should not be overlooked is what TI swimmer Michael Bryant calls MetaConscious Competence. Many of us will be familiar with the progression from Unconscious Incompetence (through Conscious Incompetence and Conscious Competence) to Unconscious Competence. Michael proposed a 5th level in which you consolidate your competence by teaching someone else. Nicodemus gives a great example.
3) Separate a fundamental but challenging problem from whole-stroke swimming and find a holistic way to solve that problem. (While you're at it, separate your self-judging ego from the process and focus on understanding what's happening.) The example of simply practicing breathing in a standing/crouching position, then progressing to the inclusion of movement -- bobbing or boucing to the deep end is both egoless (because our usual means of "keeping score" are absent) and a well-designed skill progression. Keep at it until you have a relaxed easy rhythm before adding the complexity of doing this altogether new skill in whole stroke.
4) The relation of a relaxed breathing rhythm to stroke efficiency. This relates in two ways: (a) Breathing rhythm IS swimming rhythm. If your breathing is fast and shallow, then your stroke MUST be hurried -- and therefore less efficient; and (b) By getting all the air you need you transform what felt harrowing into an enjoyable experience, eliminate distraction freeing up focus for movement quality and reduce muscular tension promoting more fluent movement.

Easy, relaxed, rhythmic breathing must come first!

Alex-SG 08-11-2009 02:46 PM

Technique is still important !
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Nicodemus (Post 4977)

....What I realised is that I needed to take the same comfortable breaths in freestyle as I do in breaststroke. And in particular I noticed that due to tension, I was not exhaling enough. The problem was NOT that I couldn't get enough air in - it was that I needed to get it out. And ironically I was making the problem worse by rushing my breathing - I actually needed to slow it down.

So I started swimming almost in slow motion, with my sole focus on deep(-ish) relaxed natural breathing. ....But then I slowed down even more - determined to finish each length as comfortably as I started it....
Good Luck!

Excellent TIP, thanks for sharing.
We have a number of OPEN WATER "Mina Mile" events coming up here in Dubai. I hope to be able to go all freestyle with your advice.

Just a small comment: Technique is still important.
I have been doing TI drills for 4 months (no LAPs at all). I can feel I can swim a longer distance than before just because my body is more balanced and my position more streamlined.

roates 08-11-2009 03:39 PM

Breathing is a non-negotiable skill
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Nicodemus (Post 4977)
Hi Folks,
I want to share my recent breakthrough in the hope that other people can make similar progress. Two weeks ago I could only manage 1 length (33m) of freestyle without a rest. Yesterday I swam 1500m non-stop; and could have easily done more.

This all started two weeks ago. Yesterday I swam a mile freestyle, in total comfort. (In 40 minutes)

So my advice is to forget all those complicated ideas you might have heard about breathing. Get in touch with your own natural breathing, and take that into your drills as a focal point. Good Luck!

A really important post YES!

I had a similar experience earlier in the year, my lack of relaxed breathing skill was really holding me back from achieving any distance. After a back to basics breathing one-to-one with TI/Swimshack in the UK, I went from 4 - 8 - 12 - 20 and then 40 lengths in a two week period. And after each session I wanted to go on swimming.

A relaxed stationary breathing exercise were the key to success. This was something I had never tried, although it is on the 02in H20 dvd uts importance can't be over stressed.

Here's the drill - Take a breath, let your head go down into the water, allow air slowly to trickle out to say a count of 5, help it a little and then as you come up expel the remaining air out, the vaccum created in your lungs will bring in new clean air, repeat. Increase the the count gradually and when you trickle air out to a count of 15 you're at genius level, so Ian Smith told me!

When confident I then repeated down the pool in skating position. My breathing to the left is still better than my right but I'm now on the way to bilateral breathing with a lot more confidence.

Not for nothing is it called 'Trickle Breathing'
Nicodemus your post needs keeping in an archive for constant reference.

Roger

sasquatch 08-11-2009 07:04 PM

Thanks
 
I've been trying to find some ways to help my better half and a few of her friends relax and breath easy in the water. They just haven't been able to get it. Simply telling them to relax and slow down has had very little impact, in fact I think it's made it worse. One of them tells me she can't even blow bubbles because she's so worried that water will might get in her mouth or nose. Consequently they are all very tense, rushed and always tired after just a few strokes in the water. I'm going to try the bounce-n-breathe method with them and my kids (who don't seem to mind getting water up their noses).

splashingpat 08-11-2009 08:17 PM

I learned at the age of five...and made many mistakes, & then it clicked
 
I wish I was five
when trying to learn to
butterfly!

I do NOT like makin' mistakes!
but
I should learn from 'em!

I am impatient now
or maybe
not as limbre(almost 50 years later)?

Nicodemus 08-11-2009 08:22 PM

Thanks for all the positive feedback

I think I was just lucky that I connected my daughter's problem to my own. The crazy thing is that this was 3 months after my TI workshop - so for about 12 weeks I failed to identify my own problem. Or, put it another way: I am 47, and have been swimming breaststroke with comfortable breathing most of my life; meanwhile I have been unable to breathe in freestyle.

I think this episode shows how deeply we can hold onto subconscious tension and/or bad habits. Especially if we have been given instructions by an 'authority' such as a swimming coach. I really appreciated Terry's comment about a holistic approach. In this case I had to 'look inside myself' to get in touch with my own breathing.

There is something else I would like to add: I have done a lot of scuba diving. This means I have the experience of breathing comfortably while fully submerged, with no sense of urgency to 'find' the air. For various reasons, divers breath slightly slower and deeper than we would in air; but the key point is you find a natural comfortable pattern. This was the feeling that I wanted us both to have when we did the 'bouncing' exercise.

I saw another post where someone asked about how swim breathing compared to jogging breathing. I think that was such a good question because the person who raised it is trying to relate swimming to something else in his life.

Unfortunately I am really struggling to breathe on my left side - I guess that will be another challenge!

upside-down 08-12-2009 09:19 PM

I'd never really thought that much about breathing until I read "Chi Running" (as recommended by Terry, and an absolutely fabulous guide to running). I'm still working on my patient breathing while swimming, but where I noticed an immediate change was in my cycling. I felt better, i recovered quicker from hard efforts (climbs or sprint intervals), and I even increased my cruising pace by a few tenths of an mph (it doesn't sound like much but over a couple of hours it can add up to minutes) just by focusing on patient breathing and proper exhaling. I can only assume it will work the same for swimming once i'm able to get it dialed in.

And Nicodemus, i'm definitely not a coach, but skating drills seemed to help my weaker-side breathing.

Nicodemus 08-12-2009 11:14 PM

Thanks for the suggestion. I have been doing lots of Fish, Skating & various drills to work on my left side.

There is an excellent article on here somewhere that basically says that right-handed people have less coordination on their left side (& vice versa).

One issue I have identified is that my left kick seems to have a lot less 'bite' than my right. It feels more like a twitch. Maybe that is a factor?

ynotcat 08-17-2009 07:28 AM

I recently read an interesting book that discusses breathing in depth: "Body, Mind and Sport" by John Douillard. His recommendations for breathing while swimming are (page 164):

1) Exhale through the nose only. While exhaling, slightly constrict the throat to make a "Darth Vader" like sound. The only way to make this sound involves contracting the abdominal muscles, which expels the used air from your lower lungs. If you exhale through your mouth (as I used to), it is very easy to only exhale the air from the upper lungs.

2) Inhale through the mouth, consciously trying to fill the lower part of your lungs, not just the upper part.

He goes into plenty of detail on this technique. I tried using it for the first time in an open water race last week end, and it really helped. Usually, I get short of breath when pushing hard in a race. This time, I felt really good. When ever I started to feel the slightest shortness of breath or gasping, I would really concentrate on the breathing technique. In the last 500 meters of the race, I was able to pull away from the 4 person pack that I had been struggling to keep up with earlier in the swim. I finished about a minute ahead of them, and instead of being out of breath and gasping at the finish, I felt very tired and worn out, but I was breathing fairly normally.

I am excited about the new potential I now have for swimming more comfortably and potentially faster by using this breathing technique.

vincent 08-17-2009 01:35 PM

breathing
 
hello! my name is vincent and live in normandie in france .
i think have found the swimming "skating" idea.Breathing for me is much difficult at the 25 m swimming pool than in open water.Why? Because i can in open water like in my trail running of 50 or 60 kms take time of my rythm of breathing .At the swimming pool the feeling of touch the wall don't let me the time to smoothly take my slow rythm.That's why i prefer swim in open water with this feeling of freedom and no limit,no goal,just swim...
i've got a ear ache since 15 days .i go to the doctor this evening .When we've got this feeling of skating in ti. we want like a drug,awlways find again and again this feeling,it's difficult to stop swim a week or more... sincerely. sorry for my poor english.

timdoyle 08-17-2009 04:10 PM

ynotcat & nicodemus,

I was hoping either of you, or anyone else for that matter, might be able to help. I can breathe quite comfortably while in my sweet spot and have no problem turning my head into the water and then back out. My problem is that when I switch to freestyle I am out of breath at the end of the lane, but after I catch it I can continue for over an hour provided I stop after each length to catch my breath.

I tried slowing down, but I have found that then I can’t create an air pocket to catch a breath and in turn I have to go to my sweet spot to get a good deep breath of air. I have been exhaling out of my nose. Any suggestions?

rwilkes 08-18-2009 02:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by roates (Post 5037)
A really important post YES!

I had a similar experience earlier in the year, my lack of relaxed breathing skill was really holding me back from achieving any distance. After a back to basics breathing one-to-one with TI/Swimshack in the UK, I went from 4 - 8 - 12 - 20 and then 40 lengths in a two week period. And after each session I wanted to go on swimming.

A relaxed stationary breathing exercise were the key to success. This was something I had never tried, although it is on the 02in H20 dvd uts importance can't be over stressed.

Here's the drill - Take a breath, let your head go down into the water, allow air slowly to trickle out to say a count of 5, help it a little and then as you come up expel the remaining air out, the vaccum created in your lungs will bring in new clean air, repeat. Increase the the count gradually and when you trickle air out to a count of 15 you're at genius level, so Ian Smith told me!

When confident I then repeated down the pool in skating position. My breathing to the left is still better than my right but I'm now on the way to bilateral breathing with a lot more confidence.

Not for nothing is it called 'Trickle Breathing'
Nicodemus your post needs keeping in an archive for constant reference.

Roger




This sounds a great idea, as this wholes thread is - practice makes perfect as they say !

However, to me breathing is a vicious circle. To breath efficiently we must be relaxed in our stroke, but to stroke efficiently we need to breath correctly ! This is the problem i have, i feel my balance is coming on (head position) but whole stroke falls down because of my breathing, which is having a negative effect on my drills.

This whole thread of relaxed breathing is interesting for all of us who are starting out in TI (6 months)...., to me breathing is THE integral part of TI, because if i cant breath, i cant drill !

I seem to IN too much air, a big "gulp" of air. Therefore, i dont exhale enough, just cant get the correct amount of air in and exhale enough out. But, like is say, practice make perfect and thats what makes us get back in the pool after a frustrating session !!!!

Mike from NS 08-18-2009 08:30 PM

relaxed practice
 
rwilkes,

We are coming from the same place. To progress we must relax which means we must breathe correctly and since we have trouble breathing we also have trouble being relaxed ... a viscous cycle ! However what Nicodemus suggests helped me as I tried to focus completely on his methods last time in the water. I felt very close to having grasped "breathing". Right from my very first question on this TI forum, Splashin' Pat told me to bob, and bob, and then bob some more --- so as to become comfortable in the water and learn to relax. I had thought I had a pretty good handle on this but really realized the other day that I'm not breathing out enough! When I coupled this fact with bobbing, and with Nicodemus's suggestions together with several lengths of Nod & Swim practice, the slower stroke helped me relax more and I did feel a bit more progress. His next suggestion, which was a repeat from Terry's "keep one goggle wet" will help too as the Nod & Swim drill helps promote this. And using the bottom of the lane markers as a focus point makes great sense to me -- especially when in learning, an expected reference of some kind should help too.

One thing that seemed to work for me in getting rid of all my air, was to continually bubble from the mouth and then "snort" out the last air from the nose just before the inhale through the mouth. But maybe I should keep that to myself! However, as it falls into place and breathing begins to work in a more solid fashion, the methods will be refined as the learning continues. Just as in skiing, once we learn to stop with confidence, then we learn to go faster and to ski more daringly - since we know we can stop ! A confidence thing!! Same thing here.

Mike

JohanWJoubert 08-29-2009 05:29 PM

Improving my drills
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by rwilkes (Post 5278)
...However, to me breathing is a vicious circle. To breath efficiently we must be relaxed in our stroke, but to stroke efficiently we need to breath correctly ! This is the problem i have, i feel my balance is coming on (head position) but whole stroke falls down because of my breathing, which is having a negative effect on my drills.

This whole thread of relaxed breathing is interesting for all of us who are starting out in TI (6 months)...., to me breathing is THE integral part of TI, because if i cant breath, i cant drill !...

My experience with TI has unfortunately gone somewhat pear-shaped since I started (3 months). I was reading the book (or so I thought); doing the drills (or die trying). The balance drills were quite fine, but I was SO exhausted from skating and switches: when I rolled back to my sweet spot my head was still under water, and I usually end up 'falling apart' like someone else mentioned in a post, not getting breath, and swallowing water. I spent so much energy on trying to stay alive and get air along with all the water, that there was no energy to concentrate on what's going wrong with my technique that's CAUSING the 'struggle'. The stationary breathing exercises mentioned on some of the forum posts didn't work for me, because it was when I was moving where the trouble began.

I am set to get it right and swim fish-like eventually. I know we shouldn't 'practice struggling', but putting in more of those dreadful chlorine-sniffing-water-swallowing hours just didn't make sense. And then came the breakthrough for me (and I really hope for others battling to focus on their technique during drills, and establishing breathing muscle memory, too)... "Just as we encourage students to master [balance and sweet spot] without fins, we also encourage them to feel free to use fins to increase their ease in [later drills]..."

I thought being stubborn and keep drilling 'struggle' without fins will improve the technique quicker. Well, it made it much worse! I got myself a pair of short fins recently; I still do basic balance drills without them, but use the them for all other drills.

For the FIRST time I experienced what fish-like swimming might be like one day. I now actually get to practice breathing since I have energy to focus on my technique during drills. I'm not kicking-to-stay-alive-because-my-life-REALLY-depends-on-it anymore. I now know that I must exercise rolling more needle-like, for one. But previously I didn't have energy to concentrate and realize where areas for improvement are.

This is by no means 'new' advice. I just thought it is worth confirming that it works (for me)!

shuumai 08-29-2009 06:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JohanWJoubert (Post 5587)
I thought being stubborn and keep drilling 'struggle' without fins will improve the technique quicker. Well, it made it much worse! I got myself a pair of short fins recently; I still do basic balance drills without them, but use the them for all other drills.

For the FIRST time I experienced what fish-like swimming might be like one day. I now actually get to practice breathing since I have energy to focus on my technique during drills. I'm not kicking-to-stay-alive-because-my-life-REALLY-depends-on-it anymore. I now know that I must exercise rolling more needle-like, for one. But previously I didn't have energy to concentrate and realize where areas for improvement are.

This is by no means 'new' advice. I just thought it is worth confirming that it works (for me)!

Good for you!

Yeah, I noticed that putting fins on a 10 year old helped to by-pass the struggling-to-learn-how-to-kick phase. It also provided a preview of what's possible. It's also fun. Very encouraging experiences.

As the old advice goes, just don't become dependent on the fins.

RadSwim 08-30-2009 01:02 AM

Some would say that I was fin dependent -- but I never saw regular fin use as problem. I have always worn fins for kicking drills, and never plan to give them up. I can skate across the pool without them, but I get more from the drills with fins on kicking gently.

I wore fins for the better part of 2 years when I started TI freestyle swimming as a 40-something adult. When I started, I needed them to power my stroke. I stopped wearing them when I had developed enough core muscle strength to power my stroke without fins.

Fins are a great tool -- don't avoid them for fear of creating dependency. If you are frustated and struggling, try fins -- keep using them until you have grown beyond them.

RadSwim

Mike from NS 08-30-2009 11:57 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RadSwim (Post 5590)
Fins are a great tool -- don't avoid them for fear of creating dependency. If you are frustated and struggling, try fins -- keep using them until you have grown beyond them.
RadSwim

I agree with your comments RadSwim. Without using fins I would not have progressed as I have. I'm afraid, however, I have the dreaded "fin dependency" and I'm working to cure that. At least the last 10 minutes of each swim is spent without fins ... and several times during a swim as well. I can feel the dependency lessening. A different balance with and without the fins must be learned.
Mike

rgiven 08-30-2009 05:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mike from NS (Post 5593)
I agree with your comments RadSwim. Without using fins I would be not have progressed as I have. I'm afraid, however, I have the dreaded "fin dependency" and I'm working to cure that. At least the last 10 minutes of each swim is spent without fins ... and several times during a swim as well. I can feel the dependency lessening. A different balance with and without the fins must be learned.
Mike

I too had pretty bad dependency! but I wouldn't have got where I am in my swimming without using them.

I had a pretty frustrating time trying to get through a two day workshop with a really weak kick. Following that I used fins a lot to get through the drills, but found this was holding back the development of good balance. I got over this by 1. cutting my fins down leaving only a few inches beyond my toes, giving me just enough propulsion to drill. 2. Doing a lot of superman glide, fish and skaing without fins, using the wall for push off and then stopping and standing up before pushing off again when I lost momentum

Grant 08-30-2009 06:19 PM

[quote=rgiven;5594] 1. cutting my fins down leaving only a few inches beyond my toes, giving me just enough propulsion to drill.

This is a good point. What a number of people have done is say, start with a relatively short model of fin and then cut off about an inch at a time whenever they have felt they mastered the drills using that length of fin. Ending up as rgiven has said.

garybarg 03-01-2010 11:39 PM

Using Fins
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by RadSwim (Post 5590)
Some would say that I was fin dependent -- but I never saw regular fin use as problem. I have always worn fins for kicking drills, and never plan to give them up. I can skate across the pool without them, but I get more from the drills with fins on kicking gently.

I wore fins for the better part of 2 years when I started TI freestyle swimming as a 40-something adult. When I started, I needed them to power my stroke. I stopped wearing them when I had developed enough core muscle strength to power my stroke without fins.

Fins are a great tool -- don't avoid them for fear of creating dependency. If you are frustated and struggling, try fins -- keep using them until you have grown beyond them.

RadSwim


Spot on Rad. I think the key thing for many people, like myself, is to remain in a comfort zone, then we can make progress. If it means using fins, so be it, no problem. They will eventually come off. Neat to hear that your stroke/core strength got to the point that you did not need fins any longer.

rbehnan@mi.rr.com 03-02-2010 08:07 PM

breathing forum is the most popular
 
I am 70 years old and do spinning and other cardio excercises.I have the ti book, cd freestyle and o2 inh2o. The breathing in whole strokes is more daunting than I had any reason to suspect. Indeed if you don`t have the balance the proper alignment and you aren`t breathing right its over. To complicatev matters I have to wear a nose clip. How challenged will I be to get this and incorporate lap swiming??
Ramsey

p_jayadeep 09-25-2010 07:17 AM

I am into the 7th session with Easy Freestyle and I just swam 2 laps(20m lap) freestyle continuously for the first time, though I couldn't sustain the form in the end. Till now I would struggle to reach the other end. Thank you for sharing this and I hope I could get a kilometer soon!

forests 09-25-2010 03:52 PM

Ramsey/others,
Interesting about the nose clip interfering with proper breathing. After a year of intense practice/drills, I feel like I have finally mastered TI. I now look forward to swimming. The only missing part is being able to swim beyond 100 meters without stopping because I'm out of breath. I breathe relaxed and every 3rd stroke. I now suspect, because of this thread, that my nose clip is to blame. Based on others experience, its seems that I need to breathe out nose and mouth to completely empty the lungs. I will start tomorrow without the nose clip and see if there is improvement.
Thanks,
Steve

Richardsk 09-25-2010 06:21 PM

I use a nose clip and have no trouble breathing. I can even breathe out through the nose, although I'm sure it would be easier without the clip. It is of course also possible to breathe out through the mouth only. I think the secret is to relax and breathe out slowly but steadily.

As a lifetime breaststroker breathing out under water has never been a problem, but as a recent convert to freestyle, thanks to TI, I still struggle to breathe on the 'wrong' side. I think the answer is lots of underswitch and one-arm freestyle, both of which have other benefits as well, I believe.

I would suggest lots of 25m and 50m repeats concentrating on relaxed breathing, and of course some of the head bobbing practices mentioned elsewhere would do no harm.

Mike from NS 09-26-2010 02:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rgiven (Post 5594)
I too had pretty bad dependency! but I wouldn't have got where I am in my swimming without using them.

I had a pretty frustrating time trying to get through a two day workshop with a really weak kick. Following that I used fins a lot to get through the drills, but found this was holding back the development of good balance. I got over this by 1. cutting my fins down leaving only a few inches beyond my toes, giving me just enough propulsion to drill. 2. Doing a lot of superman glide, fish and skaing without fins, using the wall for push off and then stopping and standing up before pushing off again when I lost momentum

I agree with you completely rgiven! As a learning 50+ year old I needed some propulsion to overcome so many other frustrations associated with learning to "enjoy the journey"! Over the past summer I managed to complete a number of pool lengths without the fins ~ but they weren't pretty trips! I had plateaued and now have regressed a bit. Rather than trimming my fins ( Aquasphere Zip fins) I go to where I can just touch the bottom and swim the resulting 12 or 13 meters without the fins in the shallower area. I did this Friday for about 30 minutes continuously without the fins. When I put the fins back on there were a few moments when the fins felt strange and almost had to be re-learned (almost !!!). I don't completely trust myself in the deep water without the fins. With them I'm quite comfortable diving to the bottom (about 12 feet below) head first. Or staying in the deep area all day. Silly isn't it! I know my fin-less kick is worthless and not my friend! ( But with the 2BK we are not really looking for propulsion anyway.) However as the number of times the 13 M length was covered "better" control I did gain. Sometimes this was done with turning without stopping or touching the bottom ~ just to get the feel of swimming 25 M without fins. Maybe as a mental booster too. So ~~ what I'm suggesting is more of the cold turkey method. Swim where there are no concerns other than the kick. Swim with your arms and forget the feet. Just let them follow behind. I expect that in a time shorter than you think, you will be using fins just for fun; and the dreaded fin dependency will be a distant memory. This is starting to help me. If I were in a pool with a max depth of 6 feet I'm sure I would do better. (But touching the bottom 12 feet away is fun too!) Like everything else ... we have to learn this skill ~ no body is going to give it to us!

And like you say.. lots of gliding practice with SG to regain or develop some form of balance that the fins make us lazy in striving for. There's no replacement for hours of practice with a solid effort.
Mike

chunky 11-04-2010 03:02 AM

Just a quick note to thank all who have contributed to this thread. I started lessons 6 weeks ago (before that I couldn't even float) and struggled really badly with relaxing in the water and breathing. I turned to good ole google for more info, stumbled across this blog post, and then this forum, yay! All the posts here have helped me understand what feel to capture when swimming, and I got the TI book a couple of weeks ago (I was lucky to get the last copy in the store!). By using Nicodermus's drill, and repeating to myself 'relax, relax' as I practice my breaststroke, I discovered that my breathing magically sorted itself out. And the Darth Vader tip really helped me keep my nose and lungs water-free. :-) So now I am trying to learn freestyle.. and hopefully will progress to other strokes in the future. I feel like I am addicted to swimming now, I can't wait for my next pool session! Having learnt martial arts in the past makes me really appreciate the TI drills and kaizen spirit of the TI approach.

So, once again, thank you all! :-)

Mike from NS 07-12-2013 02:10 AM

Time for a re-fresher?
 
Just thought that maybe there are some people here that hadn't seen Nicodemus' post of August 2009 ........ and it is well worth bouncing to the front again.

A note to Eric ... the Bedford pool has warmed up. Sat / Sun; noon to 1:30 best times.

Mike

efdoucette 07-12-2013 02:38 AM

woohoo Mike, thanks for the reminder. I'm gonna find my way over there. I'll just yell for Mike. I'll be the grey haired guy.

Mike from NS 07-12-2013 11:50 AM

It will be great to meet you Eric !

Just ask the life guards who Mike is ... they will point me out ..... grey hair? ... you won't be alone in that group. I'll tell them to expect you. We are a pretty laid back group ... should be fun.

It may look like this




Mike

Mike from NS 01-12-2014 02:26 PM

Time for this thread to re-surface ?
 
Possibly premature to share this success ... but why not share this experience? It may be helpful to someone.

Last summer I posted a question asking methods to help learn continuance. That is to be able to swim many lengths without a rest after each 25M. Many replies were offered and were greatly appreciated. They all have helped too. But with the close of the summer pool in late August my swimming frequency takes a hit. Then skiing starts in December and swimming suffers a bit more .... sorry, I digress. So, the other day with all the advice from last summer floating through my brain I decided to give "continuance" a dedicated effort. I combined the Nod & Swim Drill and the advice in this famous thread by Nicodemus from way back in 2009 along with the suggestions from last summer ... and ... presto ....CONTINUANCE happened !! I started with bobbing for 175 M and transcended this into 150M of swimming as relaxed as possible just to keep going. Using the advice from the summer, to not be terribly concerned of stroke or style but rather focus on getting there without being sapped of all strength --- ie : go slowly, I went as slowly and with as few strokes as I could. First, the 175 was done floating and bobbing vertically with feet crossed at ankles and just more or less sculling like a breast stroke. The 150 was carried out with mostly a slow as possible freestyle with a good bit of breast stroke tossed in as well. This was just all on the spur of the moment when I decided to make an honest effort. While doing the 175 I paid a lot of attention to the breathing rhythm and feeling a relaxed exhale. Anyway it all worked pretty well, so I thought I'd share this in the event it may help some one else who is having the same breathing issues as I have been. Can't wait to get back and give it another try.
Mike

Noonie 01-14-2014 05:35 PM

Question on swim-style breathing outside the pool
 
Great thread. Has given me much to think about. I liked the comments about going slow, and practicing breathing while not actually swimming. This gave me a though and I wanted to ask if others have thought about this -

Lets say I take 23 strokes in 25 meters (counting each time my hand spears under the water), I'm bi-latteral breathing, and it takes me 25 seconds to complete. I just sketched this on some paper and I'm taking on average 8 breaths in 25 seconds. So in 25 seconds I'm taking 8 "bites" of air, with each less than a second (I assume) and breathing out the remainder of the time.

A couple of really basic observations:
- this isn't how we breathe normally (obvious, we're swimming). So how do we become better swim breathers?
- regardless of how slow we go, and how efficient we are, it takes a moderate amount of effort to swim and thus is a physical activity that gets the heart rate up...and usually when this happens you need more air

Can you work on making this type of breathing feel normal, so that it transaltes during w/s like how we imprint during drills? Maybe while sitting at ones desk, on a couch, or standing in the pool and submerging your head while breathing like I do during swimming (8 bites of air in 25s, rest of the time exhaling).

And FWIW, I've had days when I can swim 500-750m straight and I feel only a little winded, taking that 1-2 second pause at the wall, and days when I can't swim more than 50m without needing 10 seconds at the wall to catch my breath.

Penguin 01-14-2014 07:40 PM

It's not easy, but...
 
When I was younger, I did a lot of skin diving, and I got pretty good at holding my breath underwater. In a pool, I used to do two lengths (@ 25 yd) easily underwater. When swimming on the surface, I felt that carrying a couple of lungfulls of air made me swim better because it floated me higher.

Now, I am trying to learn something else. It is not easy. A few concepts (listed in order of discovery) that seem to be working for me are:

Dry land aerobic training helps.

The stale air has to go out before fresh air can come in.

Streamlining is better below the surface than when floating on the top.

Most of the oxygen exchange takes place in the first few seconds after an inhalation (I read that on a TI forum or blog recently, but am not totally convinced yet) so swimming two or three strokes on a full set of lungs should offer no advantage over having a partially filled set.

In pilates and other strength exercizes, one is always being instructed to exhale during the exertion. (Most of us come new into a training program reflexively holding our breath or actually inhaling, maybe seeking to draw in more vitality.) By this same argument, it would be beneficial to exhale during the pull stroke. I think it helps to be trying to learn this counterintuitive concept in two different disciplines at the same time.

StuartK 01-15-2014 11:20 AM

Mike, Great, well done few more lengths and you may need to contact the Lamborghini agent :)

Noonie, The best advice I had was to try and make you breathing as near to your normal pattern as possible. I breathe in every third stroke but I try to ensure that I'm slowly breathing out all the time inbetween, as soon as my face is back in the water I'm breathing out. I find if I hold my breath at all then I can feel anxiety building up, this increases tension and I find myself short of breath. One of the posters said that it's the build up of CO2 that causes the feeling of breathlessness not lack of oxygen. I'm trying to reach the stage where I don't have to think about my breathing so if my body needs an extra breath I can just take it - work in progress!

Mike from NS 01-15-2014 11:31 AM

Thanks Stuart!
I had forgotten about the car....LOL ! You may have a good point. It all seems to be "coming together" a bit more lately. A 200M non stop swim yesterday (with "gas" left in the tank) and a 50M non-stop has become a matter of fact. That in itself is a new feature for me. One of the many things I enjoy about learning to swim is that when there is progress, the progress is obvious.
Mike

efdoucette 01-15-2014 10:30 PM

Congratulations Mike, you are really doing well.

For me I need to focus on my breathing every swim, trying my best to make it feel seamless. I know I am holding my breath, it is not yet automatic, still a work in progress. On days when I "normalize" my breathing I can freestyle up to 200M.

Also,I always try to stay off the wall, not stopping even if I push off and back float for 10M or so. I am now up to 1Km in a session, sometime 1500M.

Keep at it Mike, I think there is hope for us :)

Mike from NS 01-16-2014 04:56 PM

Thanks Eric.
Progress is slow but when the effort is made progress becomes obvious. Sounds like you are doing really well. Congratulations to you ! Swimming demands we have patience and tenacity .... and then we will get there!
CGC is a busy place early on Friday mornings now .... bordering on crazy at times. Looking forward to the Bedford pool and the summer. The present Jan. thaw is killing the ski season and if it lasts much longer the humming-bird feeder will be coming out of storage.
Mike

gkgkgkgk 05-21-2014 03:41 PM

thanks all friends
 
thanks so much for his knowledge and increase my knowledge and insight


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