Originally Posted by henkelphoto
Here's the problem. My wife says she cannot take in enough air to keep swimming. She literally runs out of breath by the second series of three strokes. She is so winded that she is huffing and puffing. She also says that when she is swimming, she can't take a big breath because the water is squeezing her chest so much.
In learning to swim (past age 50) I had to deal with fairly severe water phobias. To me, what you are describing sounds more fear or panic based. In which case, it will be important for your wife to take things at her own pace and learn to feel comfort in the water. I did and am now able to do open water swims of over a mile and finish feeling refreshed and like I could jump back in the water and repeat the swim.
If your wife kneels in the pool and the water is around her chest, does she feel the water squeezing her chest? I doubt it and that is what makes me think this is more fear based. That, and also my own first open water swim when I had a panic attack. . . same sensation, I felt like my chest was being compressed.
For me, using fins while learning gave me confidence to progress. . .they were my security blanket, so to speak.