Do you mean 50 yards instead of 50 feet? Are you alternating sides when you breathe?
In any case, can you identify more precisely why you are stopping at 50? Is it that you are #1) physically tired (muscles)? Or are you #2) unable to reach oxygen? Or are you #3) just getting winded and feeling 'panicked'?
For #1), you might just need to get in 'swim shape'. More time in water practicing. How often a week do you swim? and for how long?
For #2), That's a form/balance issue. Have you practiced all the TI drills?
For #3) If it's the last one, then you are not getting enough oxygen to sustain your level of exertion. Or, to look at it another way, you may be exerting too much for your current oxygen intake volume and/or frequency.
This can be alleviated by:
1) Breathing more frequently (you simply need more oxygen). I usually breathe every other stroke (on 2s). That's the only way I can sustain my stroke. I tried breathing on 3s, but I can't sustain that for more than a lap or two. Then I tried 2, 2, 3. Sometimes that works. See what works for you. I don't have a very large lung capacity, so I soon run out of air. And you have to breathe often enough so that you never come close to the feeling of panic, because it can sneak up on you.
2) Exhaling more completely and continously (while under water, of course) to eliminate the bad CO2 building up. Exhaling slowly, continuously and 'naturally' (not forced) contributes to a more relaxed feeling.
3) Less exertion. Over-exertion can be caused by (some of these overlap): too much drag, trying to swim too fast/work too hard, too much tension (turn off the muscles that you don't need), poor balance, too-busy legs, legs out of synch with rest of stroke/rotation, inefficient stroke, poor streamline, lack of flexibility in neck, ankles, etc., head too high or looking forward, legs too low, recovery arm working too hard or not in the right position, stroking arm pushing downward at beginning of stroke, ...and so on and so on. You'll have to figure out where the problem is.
4) All of the above.
So, I don't know if this will help you at all. I just overcame major breathing issue about 2-3 years ago. I'm finally at a point where I can sustain freestyle for up to a mile or so, if all the planets are lined up. I swim very slowly -- not breaking any speed records! It helps if I can get a lane to myself and I'm not stressed about running into someone or vice versa. Also helps if I know I don't have to be somewhere in a set amount of time. All that stress can contribute to psychiatric barriers to relaxation.
If you can post a video, the experts here would probably be able to nail the issue pretty quickly.
Last edited by novaswimmer : 09-04-2018 at 12:47 PM.