Total Immersion Forums

Total Immersion Forums (http://www.totalimmersion.net/forum/index.php)
-   O2 in H20: Breathing Skills (http://www.totalimmersion.net/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=4)
-   -   If I exhale, I sink (http://www.totalimmersion.net/forum/showthread.php?t=7164)

Will_in_NY 05-09-2014 05:35 AM

If I exhale, I sink
 
Hi folks. This is my first posting.

I'm a middle-aged beginning swimmer. I read the TI book cover to cover, and am rereading it. I have watched and studied the Happy Laps and the Freestyle Made Easy videos. I took lessons in New Paltz. I'm practicing the basics about every other day at the local pool.

I'm still struggling.

I'll start off with breathing.

I'm having trouble just trying to find the sweet spot.

If I exhale while in sweet spot, I sink. I can float in sweet spot, with the water at the edge of my goggles and my mouth out of the water, only if I keep my lungs full, and I kick. If I exhale, I go under water. If I stop kicking, my feet eventually sink.

If I keep my lungs full, I can do a deadman float. If I exhale, I sink to the bottom of the pool, and can sit cross-legged down there.

I read the advice for "sinkers" on page 113. I think I can balance in the skate position. However, when I roll for air, and if I have exhaled at all, my mouth doesn't break the surface.

I do not have a swimming partner.

Any thoughts?

CoachStuartMcDougal 05-09-2014 06:46 PM

Hi Will,

Welcome to the forum! And Excellent post.

This is a common problem and I see it frequently. You are emptying your lungs too quickly too early causing you to sink. Many triathletes are told to immediatley empty lungs when face hits the water. You do want to exhale (slowly), but not empty too fast. Empty lungs when rolling to get breath and refill tank quickly.

Each swimmer needs to experirment with their body type on how much air in lungs is needed to maintain buoyancy. A good test is (in pool) is fill lungs (big deep breath) then hold knees to chest and bob face down at surface for a moment. Very slowly exhale until you start to sink. For me, just under 50% capacity, the ship's going down.

Here's a SwimVice video on this very subject that may be helpful too: SwimVice: Breathing and Buoyancy

Stuart
MindBodyAndSWIM

Penguin 05-09-2014 08:22 PM

As Stuart said, it could be just be a matter of degree, and you may be getting ahead of yourself on the exhale. Most of us can stand or sit on the bottom if we exhale enough.

On the other hand, there are sinkers. In the sixties, I taught swimming at a scout camp on Long Island. Of the what must have been thousands of swimmers I came across, there was one true sinker. He could fill his lungs, go down to the bottom, and do push-ups on the sand. Despite that, he did not struggle in the water. He was a good swimmer, was actually one of our fellow waterfront counselors.

Back to your question. When I first tried them a couple of years ago, I had and still have to some extent, trouble breathing on those skate and/or spear drills. I'm sure I am not the only one. If you look at some of the TI videos, Easy Freestyle or O2 in H2O, (not sure which, maybe both) you may notice that in some of the demonstrations, Terry is almost on his back, his face to the sky. (Dolphins and whales get to breathe with their noses pointing straight up.)

In these demos, he is almost stationary in the water, making very little headway. In other demos, with the dynamics of forward motion and angular momentum to help (it is beyond me right now to explain just how) you see him not rolling nearly so far to breathe.

A good early sequence for you might be to roll up far ehough that you can take a couple of comfortable breaths, roll back down and do your switching and gliding. When you want air again, roll up on the other side or switch again and roll back up on the first side, and take a couple of breaths. You will likely find it works better on one side than the other.

Don't spend too much time on this all at once, but do come back to it again and again. It will get easier. You will find yourself not having to roll up as far and spending more time looking down at that black stripe.

Forward motion does help. Swim fins are often mentioned at this stage. If you are not getting enough drive out of your kick, they may be just the little extra you need to get this working.

Will_in_NY 05-12-2014 04:12 AM

Thank you for the advice, folks. I appreciate it. I read the messages (and other ones on the board), I watched the recommended video, and I took the advice to the pool.

At the pool today, I did that buoyancy test. As I knew, I'm not an automatic sinker. (I suspect I was when I was a child, but not now.) As with you, CoachStuartMcDougal, at about 50% or so of air expelled, I started to sink.

I practiced, among other things, gliding then rolling for air. The problem was that when I tried to breathe, I got inconsistent results. Sometimes I could take a few breaths. Other times, I'd exhale for the breath then my mouth would sink beneath the water, and not reemerge until I broke form to grab a breath any way I could.

I am going to have to develop a balance. If I try to breathe naturally, I tend to sink. If I try to keep from sinking, I tend to hold my breath and take shallow breaths.

I also read Nicodemus's thread about one length to one mile, before posting my first message. The problem is that, again, it seems to be those short, shallow breaths that keep my mouth out of the water. When I try to breathe naturally, I sink.

I know it can be done, for other people do it. It's just a matter of learning how to do so myself.

CoachStuartMcDougal 05-12-2014 03:11 PM

Hi Will,

The good news is you're not a "sinker". Reading your descriptions, most of the problem is position, balance, and timing. A good test to see if you are in correct position is do Superman to (good) Skate - then roll chin to shoulder and see if you get air. If you find only water and no air, position and balance are off.

Any one or combination of the following will prevent you from getting air in Skate: 1. lifting head, 2. tension in neck pushing head down, 3. over-rotation, shoulders are stacked, 4. recovery elbow is lifting above the surface (causes arched back and hips sink). We often refer to this as the "chicken wing". Make sure recovery arm (non skating arm) is molded to the front of body and not wrapped around outside of hip.

If you can, have someone take an above surface video (cam phone is fine) of at least 8-12 strokes and getting at least one breath in whole-stroke, breathing toward the the person filming. And another video of the Skate rolling chin to shoulder breath - and post here.

Stuart
MindBodyAndSWIM

Will_in_NY 05-13-2014 05:11 AM

Okay, I just tried Superman to skate to roll chin to shoulder, a bunch of times, earlier this evening.

If I held my breath until I rolled chin to shoulder, I got air.

If I exhaled at all first, such as to clear my mouth and nose of water before inhaling, I didn't consistently get air. Sometimes I got water. Sometimes my face never broke the surface.

If I tried to get a few breaths, my face would often sink below the surface when I exhaled.

1/ I caught myself lifting my head once. Otherwise, I don't think I was doing so.

2/ I don't think I was tensing my neck. I tried to relax it.

3/ I'm not sure that I understand what you mean by "over-rotation." Sometimes I turned my head. Other times I went to sweet spot, or even to flat on my back.

4/ I wasn't even attempting to raise my recovery arm in any of these breathing exercises. I kept my recovery arm by my side with my palm on my thigh.

I want to avoid what some call "stacked breathing:" breathing in without expelling stale air, to the point that one has lungs full of stale air yet breathless. But if I exhale very much, I sink and can't breathe.

Re video: I don't think the pool permits the filming of videos. I'll see if I can confirm this.

I'm not yet to the point of taking 8-12 strokes. I'm still working on the basics: finding sweet spot, superman, skate, skate switch, etc.

In the bigger picture, I can tell that I'm making progress in terms of developing skills, but actually having fun is still elusive. It's tiresome getting water up my nose into my sinuses, and down my throat to make me cough and gag, and struggling with all of these skills. Sigh.

CoachStuartMcDougal 05-13-2014 06:09 AM

Hi Will,

Interesting you find air holding breath, but not when lightly exhale. I suspect the slight exhale is triggering the head to push down slightly. The difference between getting air or sucking in water is about an inch, doesn't take much of an error in head position.

Re: Over-rotation. Meaning one shoulder is stacked on top of the other, body is rotated 90 degs and is unstable and sinks. Body rotation should be between 40-60 degs, one shoulder just clears surface.

I didn't realize you are not swimming, but only doing drills. It's time to take a few strokes, don't be stuck in endless drill mode. If you are doing swing skate/switch, sweet spot - you are able to take 8-10 strokes and swim single lengths. Take four to six strokes without rolling to breath, repeat. When you've acquired some stroke symmetry, then integrate breathing. Snorkel would be fine to allow getting air until you have establish stroke symmetry and rhythm.

Stuart
MindBodyAndSWIM

Will_in_NY 05-14-2014 06:25 AM

Thank you for the additional input.

I worked some more on all of this earlier this evening. My results were similar to yesterday's.

I found that I could exhale to a certain degree then reach air, but it was inconsistent. If I held my breath, it was easier to reach air. I experimented with how much air to expel. The more I expelled, the less likely it was that I would reach air.

Not finding air is an uncomfortable feeling, needless to say. I hope I can establish good breathing, balance, and swimming skills, so I can continue to progress.

Re overrotation: I don't think my shoulders were stacked. If anything, I was rolling to my back some of the time. But I'll continue to keep tabs on this.

I did catch myself sometimes pushing my head up to try to reach air.

Here is another bad habit I caught myself doing, unrelated to breathing. When working on zipperswitch, I caught myself forcefully plunging my recovery arm ahead of me, with more tension and effort than is probably needed. I first noticed this when I felt that my shoulder was sore from the effort. I'll work on this in upcoming days.

Another question occurred to me while working on all of this. How does one transition from floating in the water to a good balanced swimming position, without pushing off from the wall, floor, etc.? I found that I couldn't get into good form if I couldn't push off from something.

CoachBobM 05-14-2014 06:57 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Will_in_NY (Post 46369)
Another question occurred to me while working on all of this. How does one transition from floating in the water to a good balanced swimming position, without pushing off from the wall, floor, etc.? I found that I couldn't get into good form if I couldn't push off from something.

What position are you floating in? If I were floating in my hand-lead sweet spot, I'd roll from there to my skate position. After that, it's pretty straightforward, since TI freestyle is basically just switching from your skate position on one side to your skate position on the other side, and back again, over and over.


Bob

Will_in_NY 05-15-2014 02:01 AM

Sorry, I wasn't clear.

I'm thinking in terms of floating having broken form -- say, if I'm holding my knees to my chest and bobbing, or attempting to tread water, or in some similar position in which I'm nowhere near being in TI form.

How do I transition from such a position, in open water, to streamlined TI form?

I didn't get to the pool today. Tomorrow, I hope. I want to continue working on drills, work on form, and finding air.

Yesterday I did get a nice compliment from the lifeguard. She observed that I've been improving. And she noted approvingly that I'm working on my skills systematically, rather than just getting into the water and thrashing, as many others do. That was nice of her.

CoachBobM 05-15-2014 02:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Will_in_NY (Post 46407)
Sorry, I wasn't clear.

I'm thinking in terms of floating having broken form -- say, if I'm holding my knees to my chest and bobbing, or attempting to tread water, or in some similar position in which I'm nowhere near being in TI form.

How do I transition from such a position, in open water, to streamlined TI form?

You should find one of the TI positions that you can go to easily and proceed from there. Here are two possibilities:

1) Go forward into the superman glide position, then stroke back with one arm to the skate position and continue from there.

2) While kicking in a vertical position, let yourself "fall back" onto your back and go to your interrupted breathing position. Slip your lower arm forward, and then roll to your skate position and continue from there.


Bob

Cornelis 06-17-2015 12:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CoachStuartMcDougal (Post 46254)
Hi Will,

Welcome to the forum! And Excellent post.

This is a common problem and I see it frequently. You are emptying your lungs too quickly too early causing you to sink. Many triathletes are told to immediatley empty lungs when face hits the water. You do want to exhale (slowly), but not empty too fast. Empty lungs when rolling to get breath and refill tank quickly.

Each swimmer needs to experirment with their body type on how much air in lungs is needed to maintain buoyancy. A good test is (in pool) is fill lungs (big deep breath) then hold knees to chest and bob face down at surface for a moment. Very slowly exhale until you start to sink. For me, just under 50% capacity, the ship's going down.

Here's a SwimVice video on this very subject that may be helpful too: SwimVice: Breathing and Buoyancy

Stuart
MindBodyAndSWIM

Hi Stuart, thank you sooo much for your advice on not totally exhaling to maintain buoyancy. I was stuck on skate-to-air for a couple of weeks, always sinking or being just under the water level when I turned. Just reducing the exhalation from my nose sorted everything out...so happy...2 months till Budapest Half Ironman....going to be a close call to be ready!
Also big thanks to Will in NY for posting his questions! :-)

CoachStuartMcDougal 06-18-2015 02:28 PM

That's great to hear Cornelis! It takes time to discover good breathing timing and a continuous exchange; really a very controlled exhale followed by a quick inhale to maintain buoyancy, getting enough o2. The wetsuit keeps you buoyant making up of position errors that make breathing difficult too (not sure if you are wearing a wetsuit in Budapest)

I just read a triathlon piece on breathing with a warning of having too much air in the lungs causing hips and legs to sink. This advice seems to be spreading throughout the triathlon world. Having more air in lungs does not make hips heavier, but rather errors in body position causing hips/legs to sink.

The primary position errors that cause hips/legs to sink are 1. lifting head, looking forward and 2. reaching high and flat with recovery arm in front of head. When weight is displaced above the lungs, the back end is going to sink -- that's Newton's 3rd law of motion and gravity in action, not too much air :-)

Good luck at IM Budapest, you will rock (and breathe well on) the swim, bike and run - have FUNNN!

Cheers!

Stuart

jenson1a 06-19-2015 09:33 AM

Coach Stuart

Regarding your statement: The primary position errors that cause hips/legs to sink are 1. lifting head, looking forward and 2. reaching high and flat with recovery arm in front of head. When weight is displaced above the lungs, the back end is going to sink -- that's Newton's 3rd law of motion and gravity in action, not too much air :-)

Isn't there a drill which says to push off in sg, then skate, and then lift recovery arm and position it overhead and see how far you can glide before rotating? I think this is a balance drill, but if it causes the hips and legs to sink, isn't that counter productive?

I have been doing this drill a lot and it probably has contributed to my pause at hand entry and also some hip/leg sinking.

Sherry

CoachStuartMcDougal 06-19-2015 03:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jenson1a (Post 53532)
Isn't there a drill which says to push off in sg, then skate, and then lift recovery arm and position it overhead and see how far you can glide before rotating? I think this is a balance drill, but if it causes the hips and legs to sink, isn't that counter productive?

I have been doing this drill a lot and it probably has contributed to my pause at hand entry and also some hip/leg sinking.

Hi Sherry,

I'm not sure of the drill by your description. You may be describing "zipper switch" which is not used any more due to creating a cramped recovery and instability as you note. The Swing Skate and Swing switch most of the recovery arm is in the water as a rehearsal for a fluid recovery and maintain lateral balance and weight as recovery arm moves to full forward position or "swing"

There is an "over-switch" exercise that involves a slight pause in full forward recovery position, but in whole stroke. This is not to feel an extra glide, but rather feel the weight of both arms in front of lungs that tip body forward to raise the hips - "swimming downhill" feeling.

Other than skate drill, there is no pause at hip with recovery arm to gain a longer glide. I refer to the pause at hip as a "Cardinal Sin" since 1. interrupts rhythm of a fluid stroke and its momentum, and 2. weight of recovery arm pausing at hip, stopping momentum, additional weight behind lungs, triggers over rotation elbow creep over torso - hips drop.

Hope that helps and/or makes sense.

Stuart

CoachBobM 06-23-2015 02:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jenson1a (Post 53532)
Coach Stuart

Regarding your statement: The primary position errors that cause hips/legs to sink are 1. lifting head, looking forward and 2. reaching high and flat with recovery arm in front of head. When weight is displaced above the lungs, the back end is going to sink -- that's Newton's 3rd law of motion and gravity in action, not too much air :-)

Isn't there a drill which says to push off in sg, then skate, and then lift recovery arm and position it overhead and see how far you can glide before rotating? I think this is a balance drill, but if it causes the hips and legs to sink, isn't that counter productive?

I have been doing this drill a lot and it probably has contributed to my pause at hand entry and also some hip/leg sinking.

Sherry

There is, indeed, a drill in which you kick off in a streamline or SG, stroke back to skate, bring your arm forward in swingskate, and then see how long you can hold that position before you fall to the right or left. The purpose of this drill is to develop a feeling of side-to-side balance which, once mastered, gives you more freedom in choosing the exact point in your recovery at which you begin your entry.

Unless I'm misinterpreting Stuart, I don't think his second point had anything to do with this. There's no way that pausing in swingskate should cause your hips and legs to sink, but this can be caused by having your leading arm too high. It's an aspect of freestyle that's counterintuitive: A simplistic analysis might make you think that your body will be most streamlined if your leading arm is high and "flat" (i.e., at the same level as your shoulder), but this ignores the fact that your body is like a teeter-totter that is balanced on the fulcrum of your lungs, and the wrist of your leading arm needs to be lower than your shoulder in order to balance your core body in a horizontal position.


Bob

novaswimmer 07-09-2015 07:49 PM

OK, I'm not really understanding this statement:

'...The primary position errors that cause hips/legs to sink are 1. lifting head, looking forward and 2. reaching high and flat with recovery arm in front of head. When weight is displaced above the lungs, the back end is going to sink -- that's Newton's 3rd law of motion and gravity in action, not too much air...'

I can agree with the head-lifting and face-lifting part -- because both positions (edit:) 'shorten the vessel' a bit. That can certainly tip the scales so that the feet drop. Also, a face-forward position will cause more drag.

But the part about the 'reaching high and flat with recovery arm in front of head'. Not sure what you are talking about here. Are you refering to spear depth? Or are you refering to the position of arm 'during' the spear above the water -- that is, how far out in front of the head the hand begins to enter the water?

If you are talking about the spear depth position, I would suggest that the angle of the spear position can contribute to legs rising or falling, but more because of the forces of water against the 'blade-shape' of the arm in the water as the body moves forward.

Below in Figure A, the water pushes against the arm angled more upward, causing it to rise even more : and legs to sink more.

In B, the water forces could -- depending on depth of arm -- generate a downward push on the arm, and subsequent upward movement of legs -- assuming the center of flotation or fulcrum (round white dot) is somewhere around the lungs.

I can't believe that an arm position in either A or in B would have much of an effect on the 'weight' balance of the body nearly as much as the force of water against the arm.



But maybe I'm just misunderstanding the statement.

CoachStuartMcDougal 07-09-2015 10:10 PM

Hi Novaswimmer,

In figure a, the swimmer has both issues, arm above the lungs, head tilted forward. Although swimmer a did not lay arm flat and press down first, he entered earlier and scooped up toward surface. A swimmer laying extending flat on surface followed by pressing down before catch has a compound problem, 1. arm above the lung, 2. pressing down, lifts torso, hips drop quick. All pressure on fatigue/injury prone shoulder

In figure b, swimmer head spine aligned, lead arm below just below lung in catch position contribute to the balanced and stable platform. No pressure on shoulder, core (lats) are engaged. I often read those attributing Bernoulli's principle for fixed wing aircraft that contributes to some type of lift - our arms are not fixed wing aircraft. The pressures are almost negligible to provide little or no lift - it's all in body position.

Every "body" is different. I often have swimmers feel the difference between the two positions. Start off a length with neutral head and posture for four strokes, then look forward (like in figure a) and feel the body position change, tension in shoulders for the next four strokes - then finally release the head, goggles down and feel the tension disappear, hips rise.

Alternatively, do the same with recovery arm entry. Start off slicing deep below lungs for a few strokes, then next few strokes extend lay flat (or scoop up) on surface and feel the differences in your body position between the two.

Stuart

CoachStuartMcDougal 07-10-2015 04:50 PM

One thing I should have noted is also do the extreme arm and head positions in drill in a more static position, no forward moving forces when swimming freestyle.

Use both superman and skate drills. For example: in skate drill, raise lead arm to surface and feel what happens to body position; then slowly lower arm until hips naturally rise or where you feel most stable. Alternatively, start out with lead arm pointing 90 deg deg down at pool bottom, then slowly raise arm until you feel stable and hips rise to surface.

Lastly when you find the arm position that works best for *your* body, go back into skate (or superman) with the lead arm position you discovered, now extend from the shoulder, lengthening the body, moving the arm weight further in front of lungs - you will feel the hip(s) crown or pop just above the surface.

Stuart


All times are GMT. The time now is 04:30 PM.

Powered by vBulletin®
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.