Originally Posted by deepsinker
My problems are very similar. Once I go for the a (especially the second) breath, I lose all focus and struggle. In addition, I have a difficult time regaining my breath and experience extreme bloating. I'm beginning to wonder if I'm allergic to chlorine or some other chemical in the water. I am a very good athlete and am indeed frustrated with my lack of progress when I see so many others "get it". Any thoughts?
Many people do have inefficient breathing. Some do even on land. What you seem to be experiencing is the final-breathe syndrome--inhaling and holding onto air like you will never get another breath. Well, it might be a little more subtle than that. Simply, you not exhaling as much as you need to. (Sound familiar?) That little bit of remaining air continues to build until you have nothing but stale air.
Keep in mind that the need to breathe is controlled by CO2, not O2. Without CO2 you would pass out and die before your body had a clue that you were low on O2. In the same way, excess CO2 will make you feel more desperate to breathe.
Try this: Lie on your bed and relax. Notice the movement of your belly as you breathe. Allow the belly to remain soft as it moves. Now focus on the belly falling as you exhale. Try exhaling a little more than usual without building too much tension. Then just relax and let the air flow back in on it's own. I guess this is just the opposite of taking a deep breath then letting it rush out as you relax.
When you swim, try taking in a smaller amount of air so you won't over-inflate. Then work on getting rid of the excess CO2 by exhaling more. Ultimately you will relax into balanced breathing. (Or you will sink to the bottom and die. But let's think positive!)