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  #1  
Old 05-05-2011
steve0732 steve0732 is offline
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steve0732
Default Sinking during lesson 3 breathing drills

Everything was going great in practice for lessons 1 & 2 then I get to the drilll starting in SG in moulding my hands to my thighs. I twist over on my back for the first part bubbling slowly from my nose and kicking gently and unlike the video where as Terry turns his face clears the water mine does not. So I am thinking I will rise to the surface breathe and then turn to face the side of the pool. No such luck as the next thing that happens is that my rear end and feet touch the bottom and then my back and head.

I then remembered that I am a sinker. W/O full lungs I begin sinking.

So do I kick harder for more momentum or do I hold my breath keeping me in the correct position until I am off my back. This lets me fill my lungs keeping me afloat and able to turn off my stomach and back, but it does not match the breathing part well.

In skate position or full stroke my speed is higher and I don't sink.
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Old 05-06-2011
grandall grandall is offline
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Hi Steve,
When first starting do the same drill I had the same problem.
What I found to help me was I improved my ankle flexilbility and my balance.
Fins might help you in this drill also
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  #3  
Old 05-06-2011
steve0732 steve0732 is offline
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Thanks George. The faster I go, even a little keeps me closer to the top. I am going to look to find a kicking drill I watched the other day from a TI instructor.
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  #4  
Old 05-11-2011
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MatHudson MatHudson is offline
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Default Balance Will Help Breathing

Hey Steve,

To isolate the breathing skill itself in the interrupted breathing position, I would say it's ok to add a little kick, or use zoomer fins, for now. I did it for years with no ill-effect, though I was dedicated to drilling without fins as much. But there is more below the surface of this sinking/breathing challenge.

There are two details I notice in the description you gave:

1) Sinking
2) Sinking unevenly

Sinking may be due, in part, to body composition, but there are ways to work with the water and minimal velocity to overcome that. I say 'minimum velocity' because many of us are sinkers, and it is true, that we will not be able to keep our face at the surface without some lift.

The first thing I suggest correcting is the 'sinking unevenly'. This is a Balance issue. Once this is addressed, it will make the solution for breathing at low velocity much easier. If we are going to sink, let us, at least, sink evenly.

Fore-Aft Balance is a matter of equalizing the weight of the head + lead arm with the hips and legs, over the pivot of the floating chest. The key to this is to create a rigid connection between the front and the back- a rigid board- along the spine, from tip of the head to the achilles heal. This requires internal core muscles that we are not commonly in touch with, and therefore are often left tragically under-developed. Once these are activated, each person, according to body composition and proportions, can adjust their head and lead arm position/depth, and press the shoulders a bit deeper to Balance Fore-Aft over the chest. This takes practice and time to wake up and condition those internal muscles. But when they come into play they take over for the wobbly arms and legs. For a swimmer aspiring to swim distance without exhaustion it's worth taking hours and hours to achieve.

I am a sinker, as are many of my adult male students. I will lay down in Skate position beside them, and while their hips and legs immediately begin to sink, I will lay there in a Balanced position, evenly submerged. Obviously it has nothing to do with stroke power. The difference is that I am able to hold my body like a board, using my core muscles (lower abs, lower and mid-back and especially the hidden stabilizers inside along the spine). Through practice I can immediately place my head and lead arm in perfect position so I don't need to move appendages to hold Fore-Aft or Rotational Balance. Now, I will start to sink too when I am not full of air, but when I do I sink evenly. So I use the most gentle kick, a toe flick even, to give me a little propulsion. Just that slightest kick though creates just enough movement and just enough lift from the water to keep me at the surface.

I suggest this Balance correction as a first step. Then the second step may be a lot easier- to develop the timing and sensitivity to the water's play on the body, with the rhythm of inhale/exhale to come up for breath comfortably while holding a lazer line. I am balanced, but I still require some minimal velocity to keep a small face out while doing interrupted breathing, as demonstrated in Lesson 3. Just as a wing gets lift as it moves through the air, our bodies in balanced position can access some lift as we move through the water.

Here's a peaceful way to test your body's buoyancy and the effect of breathing upon it: Find a shallow, calm place in the water. Prepare to lay down in back-float position, and place a kickboard under your heals (or you can set your heals on the lane line if your lane is empty). Lay back gently and spread your arms out as stabilizers, and tilt your forehead back so that the smallest face is above the surface of the water. You will need to make your body as flat as possible by holding the core firm with the lower abs, lower and mid-back and internal stabilizing muscles along the spine. You will make your body a board from tip of your head to your ankles.

Now gently exhale and inhale, exploring how much is necessary to lower your face (remember the neck is fixed to the body- no bending) just under the surface and come back up to just break the surface. Practice clearing the nose as you break the surface and bubbling gently as you submerge again. This will give some feedback for working with your breath and buoyancy. [I love doing this as an after-practice meditative posture.]

A side note- I regularly swim 60 to 120 minutes continuously in open-water. In order to do this without exhaustion, I am turning off all muscles that can be turned off, and powering most of my stroke from the core-rotation, using the the smaller shoulder muscles for periodic sprints and the finale. Much of my arms and shoulders are getting some rest at some point in each stroke. However, my abs and core muscles do not rest. Because of noticing more of my students struggling to hold their hips up while I do not, I have become more conscious now of the fact that my core-stabilizing muscles stay firm the entire swim. I keep a lazer line down my spine and this is only possible with strong internal stability. Every 40 minutes or so I will do a couple little dolphin waves with my body just to turn off the back muscles for a second and let them stretch. When I get done with a swim, before coming out of the sea, I will often curl up in a little ball for a few seconds just to stretch my lower back- it is not uncomfortably tight, but it is apparent my back and abs and internal muscles were working full time. Subsequently, I find that I don't need to do crunches anymore to keep good tone in my abs- it happens naturally from swimming from the core.

Hope there is some helpful nuggets in here somewhere...
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- Mat Hudson

Certified Total Immersion Instructor
Mediterra International Swimming

Email me at: mat@mediterraswim.com
Check out my TI training blog: smoothstrokes.wordpress.com
And our company website: www.mediterraswim.com
And our TI description in Turkish: www.titurkiye.com

Last edited by MatHudson : 05-13-2011 at 01:45 PM.
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  #5  
Old 05-11-2011
steve0732 steve0732 is offline
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Default Mat Thanks for Sharing

Balance is something to work on.

So here are my questions:

1) In the drill with your hands moulded to your hips, how do you balance? If I put my head and shoulders lower then I won't make it up for air anyway. That is why I wanted to work on my kicking. When I kick sometimes I go nowhere.

I stopped that drill and work mostly in the skate position. My hand is in the proper position and it is much easier to rolll to air.

2) In the superman glide do I lower my arms more? It frustrates me that Shingi can have his arms part way out of the water and his glutes also are a little out of the water and his head to. Yet he still almost does not sink. I would need my arms at 4 o'clock and my head submerged to sink evenly.

3) In your test for sinking with your feet fixed on the lane or kick board how do you bubble through your nose? Each time I start to bubble I sink and once I start sinking there is no getting back to the surface. Should I use my arms to stay near the surface?

I am going to read your post at least one more time and then try it out.

Thanks again,

Steve
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  #6  
Old 05-12-2011
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MatHudson MatHudson is offline
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Quote:
Balance is something to work on.

So here are my questions:

1) In the drill with your hands moulded to your hips, how do you balance? If I put my head and shoulders lower then I won't make it up for air anyway. That is why I wanted to work on my kicking. When I kick sometimes I go nowhere.

I stopped that drill and work mostly in the skate position. My hand is in the proper position and it is much easier to rolll to air.
Fish Position drill is useful because it removes the arms from helping the rotation. You are right that it totally shifts the center of gravity and buoyancy back so that you are much heavier in the rear. Fish Position drill is a tool to help with balance, not a rule, not an essential drill. I would recommend moving on to Skate so that you are working with your arms in more swimming-like position. You can always come back to Fish to test and refine skills.

When we add kicking, we have to be careful to do gentle kicking so that it does not cover up the balance problem we are trying to work on. In Fish Position, whether rolling off the stomach or off the back to Sweet Spot, we are trying to tap into those core muscles to do the turning and the holding in position. We'll use a flick of the opposite foot to push off the water, but it is the core muscles turning the body. Again, even I need some gentle kicking to do these and I have pretty good balance and form. But when stationary I am a sinker too.

You can see one of my examples...

http://youtu.be/EbFSDY-MM1U

Quote:
2) In the superman glide do I lower my arms more? It frustrates me that Shingi can have his arms part way out of the water and his glutes also are a little out of the water and his head to. Yet he still almost does not sink. I would need my arms at 4 o'clock and my head submerged to sink evenly.
Yes, you're arms will hit a lower target in this slow Skate drill. With more velocity the lead arm can rest more shallow. When I am nearly stationary in Skate Position, I have a gentle kick, and my arm is pointing at nearly 2 o'clock. It doesn't look hydrodynamic from the side, because it is working to create balance only.

http://youtu.be/jomHwWcrqXo

Again, when we add some velocity the water will provide some natural lift along our body line and help us rise. The lead arm can spear to a bit higher target. When I am working on 100m sprints my arm is spearing straight ahead under the water and turning to high elbow immediately for the catch since the tempo is so high. The back of my head is out of the water, much of my shoulder and my hips are clearing the water. Depending on pace, I adjust lead arm depth precisely according to pace- from 2:30 at slow, to 12:30 at fast. (Of course the timing then of the catch and recovery arm adjusts with tempo- there is no glide at high tempo.)

It would be helpful to have a sense of pace in those Shinji videos. Speed is not his primary objective although it is the natural result of smooth technique. However, pace data would give us some reference point to get an idea of how much his velocity is helping his lift.

Quote:
3) In your test for sinking with your feet fixed on the lane or kick board how do you bubble through your nose? Each time I start to bubble I sink and once I start sinking there is no getting back to the surface. Should I use my arms to stay near the surface?
This is part of the test- to see what really is going to happen to your body when the sinking legs are neutralized for a moment. I have to concentrate very well on the rigidity of my body to hold this and be able to rise back up to the surface using breath alone. I have to feel my body resting at the surface like I would try to lay my body on a pond of thin ice. I am not suggesting that you should be able to do this, but that it is a test of what kind of buoyancy you have to work with in your body. It helps measure how much air you can inhale/exhale before the face must go below the surface. And it helps develop patience to let the body be brought up by the water to the surface rather than bend the neck to reach it. Or it could develop patience for just holding breath under the surface :)

It is very possible, that even when balance is achieved, you are a swimmer who needs some velocity in order to get enough lift to stay even at the surface from breathing- like me. This is quite ok. We just want to get to the skill level where the kicking is giving only propulsion and not balance.

And so, this is where zoomer fins can be very helpful for slow drill work. So you can focus on the sequence and timing of the arms and rotations and head movements rather than breathing.
__________________
- Mat Hudson

Certified Total Immersion Instructor
Mediterra International Swimming

Email me at: mat@mediterraswim.com
Check out my TI training blog: smoothstrokes.wordpress.com
And our company website: www.mediterraswim.com
And our TI description in Turkish: www.titurkiye.com
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  #7  
Old 05-12-2011
steve0732 steve0732 is offline
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Default Test results

I tried to stay very rigid in SG tensing legs, back and shoulders. I was able to sink a little less, but not much. I was very rigid. My hands and arms would leave the water and I would rotate around the axis of my lungs.

In the drill on floating I could stay relaxed and flat above the water even if I put my feet on the edge of the pool (higher) once enough breath was out that I began to sink recovery was not possible. I was relaxed because sinking is not new and I just float down.

I will refocus here and see how much air it takes to drop it is some, but I did not focus on how much. Plus now I will stop exhaling and see if I do rise or at least stay at the same level.

Thanks for your videos. I watched all 15 on you tube!
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Old 05-12-2011
duanespears duanespears is offline
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Hello Matt,

I'm new to the forum as well as TI swimming. This is just a note to tell you I appreciate your comments and I will be returning often to pick up pointers. I just learning to swim at 67 years old and was afraid to put my head under water, but the TI drills has solved that problem for me.

Thanks again for your comments.

Duane Spears
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  #9  
Old 05-13-2011
steve0732 steve0732 is offline
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Mat,

Many thanks here also. I went back to the pool for a second time today and tried the floating drill (feet on lane marker) and realized I could let out a fair amount of breath w/o sinking. I can do the fish drill if I really stay long and keep the laser not bending to the weight of my legs.

I am going to spend 90% of my time on switches until they are really refined. There are enough parts that seem to move I can't get them all at once sometimes. I finished with switches and breathing.

Your help is really appreciated.
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  #10  
Old 05-13-2011
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MatHudson MatHudson is offline
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Default Hang (Evenly) In There

Thank you, Duane!

Hey Steve,

I am so glad that you are finding some connection and discovering some skills in the ideas I presented. It is particularly to your benefit that you have persistence. The core rigidity is a both a neuro-muscular control and a strength issue- so first we must discover these muscles in our body, then it takes a great deal of precise repetition to wake them up and refine their strength and control. So I am pleased to hear that you tried the 'backfloat' drill and failed to achieve the results at first, but then returned to it and was willing to experiment some more.

At first, it is easiest to describe the sensation of a 'rigid core', and keeping the body, along the spine, rigid like a board. This is true in a rough sense. But in time you will fine tune this board so that it has customized flex-points in it to suit your balance and streamline and power-transfer. At first however, with any new neuro-muscular skill we are wobbly or overly stiff- like comparing a cat on a fence to a turtle trying to do the same. The turtle is rigid alright, but not applying flexibility in the best places.

There is also the concept of LONG spine, in this rigid body sensation. While just standing on the deck with your two feet straight on the ground, arms at your side, try to lengthen your neck (make yourself taller in a way), from lower back to the top of your spine at the skull. When in the water, this same kind of lengthening will have the effect of flattening your body out and making it lay more parallel to the surface of the water (versus letting drag-inducing vortexes form behind the neck and the curve of the lower spine urging the hips down). This is why we also encourage looking straight down at the bottom instead of tilting a little to get a glimpse forward- it flattens the neck-spine connection.

Another deck drill is to stand facing a wall, with toes touching it. Raise one arm up with the palm of the hand flat against the wall (your arm is on it's 'track' as in the Skate drill), the other at your side. Now slide that palm up the wall, on it's 'track', as far as you can reach- rotating your torso, keeping the spine in perfect alignment (you may keep the feet flat or pivot up the heals up off the floor). Your head will remain looking straight at the same spot on the wall- as if you are in Skate position. You can experiment then by seeing what happens to your spine alignment, and your sense of stability when you try to twist your neck or spine to get a little more reach. This drill is helpful for getting a feel for what a long body line, along a straight, stable spine should feel like. This could even be a part of a nice morning stretch, to help imprint this sensation.

By invitation, I spent 2 hours in the pool last night observing my Turkish swim coach friend's 15 swimmers, all around 9-12 yrs old. While all were working just as hard, stroking away madly, the most remarkable difference between the best swimmers in the lane and the worst was how straight and long they kept their spine. A few of the boys, in their eagerness to get a big stroke were contorting their spine like a gecko climbing the wall and going so slow because of it. The girl at the front was stroking with less power but clearly the leader- she had a rotation and reach that was pivoting along this nice, straight spine so that all her modest power was transferred effectively through her body and into the cutting of the water in front of her, like a sea kayak. She seemed more relaxed than any of the others because of it.

This 'kayak' alignment and motion was beautiful, and fast, and thankfully it is a learnable skill that any of us 'common' swimmers can master.

I look forward to more reports from you, failures and successes. It's all good learning- for both of us.
__________________
- Mat Hudson

Certified Total Immersion Instructor
Mediterra International Swimming

Email me at: mat@mediterraswim.com
Check out my TI training blog: smoothstrokes.wordpress.com
And our company website: www.mediterraswim.com
And our TI description in Turkish: www.titurkiye.com

Last edited by MatHudson : 05-13-2011 at 01:48 PM.
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