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!
Head Coach & Chief Executive Optimist
May your laps be as happy as mine.
My TI Story
Last edited by terry : 08-11-2009 at 01:36 PM.