Timing of breathing and kicking
I recently had a lesson with a triathlon coach, who was very good, but there are 2 things that I am not too sure about. As I see a lot of good advice being given on this forum, I would like to have your opinion.
First, he told me to forget about doing the 2bk, and just stick to a light flutter kick. He said it makes the stroke less ‘jerky’ and mechanical. He also added that finding someone with an effective 2bk, well connected to the stroke, is exceedingly rare, even among professional athletes and that in reality, what in underwater footage from Olympics appears to be a 2bk, actually includes a small extra kick, making it a 4bk. He cited Laurie Manadou as an example, but when I viewed her underwater videos, I didn’t see that (not that I want to use elite athletes as an example, I just wanted to double-check).
Second, he told me to breathe every 2 strokes. Again, he said that all good athletes in long distance swimming breathe like this, and that breathing every three will almost invariably leave me with an oxygen debt. I always breathed every third stroke.
I see the value in his advice, but when I tried it I found: 1) a flutter kick even if light, tires me more. 2) I find it less effective than a 2bk to aid in rotation; 3) when I swim with a 2bk, imbalances in my stroke become more evident, which helps me to correct my form.
More importantly, I realized that I like breathing every third stroke and using 2bk because it made my swimming quieter. I also want to make my stroke more minimalistic, trimming out of my form what is extra, that is, do not add extra 2 kicks if I don’t have to; don’t add an extra breath if I don’t have to.
In the end, I will swim the way I like and that I find more satisfactory, but I would still like to make sure I do things right. Any advice and opinions that you guys might be able to provide will be much appreciated. In particular, what you feel about these ideas that breathing every 3 strokes and doing 2bk is actually bad practice...
I started with freestyle autumn last year, so I never did freestyle strokes before and learned it through the 'Easy Freestyle' DVD. When I did my first full lap of strokes I already used sort of a 2bk, because you just learn it through the drills. There was a lot of movement of the legs in between due to balance problems. That is now a lot better. Sometimes I try to swim a lap with flutter kicks, basically I extend my 2bk and do 2 extra kicks in between the 'normal' kicks, it actually converts into a 6bk. I am always amazed how much extra propulsion it gives and how much it tires me. I am always glad to go back to my 2bk.
I learned the freestyle with a 2bk, and I think the whole point is simply to learn it. Once it works, it works automatically and, yes, it is a lot more relaxed than flutter kicks. If you want to have an efficient stroke movement, you need a kick anyway when the hand of the other side enters the water. The point is maybe when you don't have a coordinated kick it is more difficult to learn it. But once you got it a 2bk is very easy to do. And so relaxing...
Breathing every 2nd or 3rd stroke.
Whatever works. I notice that breathing on every 3rd makes my strokes more symmetric, but sometimes I need more air, then I do it every second stroke. I don't see a principle or philosophical question here.
So basically, I would take any advice, check it and do whatever works best. And best is always that what is most relaxed and efficient.
I am a novice and no triathlete by any stretch of the imagination, but I would have to disagree with your coach. When I do a 2bk as opposed to a light flutter I definitely feel an energy savings. I can't even imagine swimming long-distance with a flutter. That being said, I think it is important to listen to others' critiques of the TI method. Speaking for myself, it is easy to get defensive of the TI way and dismiss others' criticisms of it, but it is more helpful to try to understand what they are seeing. And I HAVE seen that same jerkiness in some TI swimmers and want to steer clear of that in my own stroke. From what I can tell I think it is caused by a pause at the end of the pull. Instead of keeping the recovering arm moving, it is "stuck" in the water for a moment, then there is a bit of a rush to recover and a lunge forward. Also I believe spearing too deep leads to jerkiness, more up-and-down movement rather than straight forward. Doing a 2bk just emphasizes these problems but doesn't necessarily cause them. There is more of an emphasis on a "wind-up" before the hand entry and it can become more of a lurch forward than a smooth spear.
As for breathing I would say whatever is comfortable for you is best. If every three is enough for you I would say stick with that, because no matter how sneaky your breath is, it will still be the tiniest bit of interruption to your stroke.
Just my 2 cents.
I'm just a TI newbie but from what I gather a 2bk is used to waste less energy on something (kicking) that yelds so little results propulsion wise. So a 2bk is used to help balance.
Personally I prefer a 2bk, or something similar to it (I dont' mind too much if it's 2b and a half kick plus a demi flutter) :)
You can feel your body gliding in the water much better this way and is also true that you save a lot of energy.
I learned this out from Katie pointing out (which has been done b/4 BUT
I couldn't see it, until see proved it to me in a video1
My legs were wider than they should be!
I am learning to focus on this even in my everyday daily stride
when i walk on land! so when i bring it to the water it will not feel so demanding or hard on me!(but relaxed, easy and natural as it should be!)
i am learning
from YOU! (& katie....thanks again katie)
and i love it!
(one day I would love to talk as smart as you,
but understandin' Ya is half the battle!)
do n't sell the gals short...
they understand more than
but ya always can send me a
(P.S. I hope I never become a know it all
but continue to learn and grow and always improving!
do n't you?)
But in the case of many adult fitness swimmers and triathletes, the triathlon coach's advice may be a bit too dogmatic. The 2bk conserves valuable energy and breathing every 3 strokes balances out the stroke. Personally, I like the advice of doing whatever works best for you, in the moment. If you want to approach effortlessness, then go with a 2bk and breathe more rythmically. When you want to go faster, with more effort, you may need to mix in some more kicks and breathe more frequently. I'm actually trying to learn to breathe every 3 strokes more regularly, as I've been breathing to one side my whole life. Each session I try to maintain breathing every 3 as much as possible, but can't do it for very long. Looking forward to continued improvement.
Thank you all for your comments. I also felt that the precise statements from the coach were a little dogmatic, but I also think, as he has coached many people, that his comments must have has some solid empirical basis. That is, he probably noticed that the vast majority of swimmers are short of air by breathing every three strokes, and that the 2bk almost never works, in his experince.
But this kind of feedback is why I like reading this forum. It is always interesting to hear the personal experience from swimmers at different levels, and having different and sometimes contrasting opinions helps me to avoid being too dogmatic.
I agree with Pat though on the fact that relaxed might not mean efficient, especially before the correct movements are imprinted. I found that when I have to correct some parts of my form, relaxation only comes second, after correcting the form. For example, I had a ‘relaxed’ kick, but I found, after filming, that I was kicking too much from my knees, not from my thighs. Changing this was not effortless… Same for having a long, extended form, I had to stretch myself, and only when I adapted and became flexible, I could relax into the correct posture.
I will follow your suggestions and try to make the 2bk more natural. I also feel the gliding phase of the stroke more. Also, I think ames makes a good point, in that the 2bk may emphasizes the problems in the stroke, and not necessarily cause them.
Just reading this thread and I too have been playing with the 2bk. A few thoughts:
1. One workout I swam two miles and just let my legs sorta dangle--forgot about them per some good advice here--and they fell into a 2bk kind of naturally. That's what got me onto the real trail of the 2bk. Also, without trying, you can begin to feel your hip rotation if you just forget about kicking. Worth a shot to just see how you feel. As others mentioned, I think a flutter kick helps to hide a multitude of sins.
2. I'm surprised that a triathlon coach would not be more of an advocate of preserving your legs for the bike and run. A 2bk really saves your legs I think. Yeah, you may go a bit slower but it's generally the fastest bike/run people that do best on tri's, right?
3. If you swim with a wetsuit your kick pretty much doesn't exist. So learning to work more w/ your core and a low key 2bk may translate better to open water swims?
4. Swimming every third breath means bilateral breathing. I think over time it's much better for your neck to breath from both sides.
I'm about two months into TI and am finding that while times are slower (slowly getting back to where I was--I think I bottomed out) I am more energized vs. drained when I get out of the pool. I also live up 25 steps and where I used to feel my legs heading up those steps after a swim I never do now (see 2bk point #2!)
Coach Suzanne is a blessin'
I do n't know where you came from
but I love to see a little more of the female's post!
and better yet a coach's input
confirms you are on the right track!
(i would n't say that for everyONE's instincts)
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