No more waterboarding myself
I figured out my problem.
I was having a hard time rolling to air... sometimes my face would be too deep after I rolled and I would panic and stand up, but not before getting just enough water up my nose to really sting. I found it easier to take a stroke and roll at the same time and posted the question, Is this an ok drill?, and I think the reason I posted it was because I felt like I was cheating. And the way I was doing it, I was. I was pushing myself out of the water with my arm and flipping over, and I wasn't rolling like a log.
The Aha moment came yesterday when I got the Freestyle Made Easy video. I had been using the book and the manual for the video and whatever advice and video clips I could find on the internet but had not really seen all the drills done properly. Right off I was struck by how relaxed and calm the swimmers were throughout the drills. And I saw that often they were underwater, face up for a moment before they surfaced for air--especially the long and lean swimmers. I thought I had been doing it wrong and that the air should be right there when I turned but I could see that I just had to be patient. At 37, I have only in the past few months learned how to swim at all, so I am still uneasy in the water in some positions and don't know how breathe in certain situations.
So I have to learn to do that. Yesterday I came up with my own exercise... I stand in the pool and start breathing out steadily through my nose, then dunk myself under and lean back, bubbling through my nose, a foot or two underwater and on my back. Lo and behold, I rise to the surface and the air is there! What a wonderful feeling. I am on my way.
A couple other thoughts on breathing... I think it is good that while I am in sweet spot, to continue to breathe out through my nose and in through my mouth. It keeps the same breathing pattern as when swimming face-down. And also if my lane gets choppy or splashy (from an "unbalanced" swimmer in the next lane), I am less likely to get water up my nose. Also, when warming up I like to spy on other people underwater, check out their strokes. I find this gives me something to focus on other than oh-my-God-I-need-some-air and makes me and my breathing calmer and I can stay under longer when I begin to stroke or do drills.
And... I can't say how comforting it is to have this community of TI swimmers, both experts and beginners, for support. Do any of you watch "Big Bang Theory"? There was an episode where Sheldon said he had learned to swim on the internet, which was a hilarious thought to everyone else (of course he had never gone to the pool, just sat in front of the computer) but what do you know, it can be done! My husband teases me and calls me Sheldon but I will have the last laugh very soon, when I am swimming smooth and confident, happy laps.