Suggestions to improve breathing
I’ve struggled with comfortable breathing since beginning my swimming and TI journey in Jan of this year. However, slowly but surely, things are starting to click into place. I have discussed my trials, tribulations and breakthroughs in my Eureka thread on this forum but a couple of things have happened during the last fortnight which have had a significant impact on my breathing ability.
I share them with you in the hope that they may be something you might not have tried and which may have the same impact on your breathing.
The first was the introduction of the Finis snorkel by my coach. He suggested it may help with my breath management and my gasping for air. The experience of shutting off my nose just before inhaling was new to me and then swimming wholestroke with it and simulating my short inhale with when I would turn for air, allowed me to feel what it should be like. It took me a little while to get used to popping through the nose and inhaling through mouth. However, I literally only used it for two sets of 200m before I was able to replicate it without the snorkel.
Another thing I did almost by accident has reinforced my breathing confidence. I was a couple of minutes into a cardio rowing session at the gym and decided to try to simulate my swimming breathing pattern to see if I could maintain it under duress. I would take my bite of air just before the ‘row pull’, then exhale through the nose during the pull and most of the return and repeat. My rowing stroke rate corresponded to my swim stroke rate so that my bite of air occurred at the same time it would during my swim breathing pattern. (in my case, approx every 2.5 seconds, unilaterally every 2 strokes at approx 1.3secs /stroke).
I kept this up for a full 20 minutes at a strenuous pace and proved that even if I was working this hard in the pool, my breathing pattern should be sufficient to allow me to continue.
These two experiences have contributed to a step improvement in my breathing, to the extent that it no longer dominates my swimming sessions. I can swim at pace for respectable distances and not feel exhausted. I can at last begin to focus on other aspects of my stroke which need improvement and not constantly be worrying about breathing.
Did I ever think even a couple of months ago that I would be able to say that?
Not on your life!!
So I hope this post may be of some help to those who are still trying to conquer this most difficult of skills.