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  #1  
Old 08-08-2011
TheFrog TheFrog is offline
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TheFrog
Default Trying to improve breathing technique.

Greetings, friendly Total Immersion folks!

Biking and running: piece of cake. Doing either soon after a swim: it isn't pretty. Running, especially, is unpleasant upon jumping out of the drink.

I've no real difficulty breathing to either side. I can get to air semi-reliably when I need it. It is quite clear to me that my technique needs work, though. I have two issues that may be related. I think I've figured out one, but I'm not sure about the other.

Issue one is a tendency to gasp for air. The window for getting that precious, life-giving air isn't very long and it has proven very difficult to convince my brain that I don't necessarily need to take a huge gulp of air when my mouth breaks the surface. This may be the reason I've been having a hard time going over about fifty meters without pausing for a few seconds to catch my breath.

I could deal with issue one if it weren't for issue number two. At the end of my last swim, I think I had more air in my digestive system than I could possibly get into my lungs. On could, I suppose, argue that it helps with buoyancy, but it isn't so good on the first leg of a very hilly Olympic triathlon.

This morning, while moving things around in the house, I did some dry-land experimentation with aquatic style breathing and think I've come up with a plan of attack for dealing with it. I shall have a better idea when I jump into either a pool or a lake tomorrow.

I'm hoping that dealing with issue one resolves issue two, but I won't know until I've done more experimentation. In the meantime, do you friendly folks have any suggestions on things to try while working on improving my breathing skills?
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  #2  
Old 08-09-2011
Zoner Zoner is offline
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Frog,
Six months ago, I couldn't move halfway down the lane. I decided to really study the TI technique very closely and also viewed all other videos, like you have, that were available on youtube. I struggled like everyone in the beginning with the breathing. But day after day in the pool working on body position finally gave me the tools to breathe through slight body roll and keeping one goggle in the water. Swimming "tall" in the water rewally helped get all the parts working together.

In the short time I've studied and practiced the drills, I can't imagine a person getting too much air. Perhaps your issue is you're not exhaling every bit of air out before you inhale. If you don't, you'll slowly build up CO2 and go into oxygen debt. But if you're doing Oly tris however, you must be doing something right. But you mention running after the swim. Are you speaking of running to T1? Is your HR recovering normally?

I'd like to hear what other experienced swimmers have to say about your problem.
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  #3  
Old 08-09-2011
dshen dshen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheFrog View Post
Issue one is a tendency to gasp for air. The window for getting that precious, life-giving air isn't very long and it has proven very difficult to convince my brain that I don't necessarily need to take a huge gulp of air when my mouth breaks the surface. This may be the reason I've been having a hard time going over about fifty meters without pausing for a few seconds to catch my breath.

I could deal with issue one if it weren't for issue number two. At the end of my last swim, I think I had more air in my digestive system than I could possibly get into my lungs. On could, I suppose, argue that it helps with buoyancy, but it isn't so good on the first leg of a very hilly Olympic triathlon.
re: issue 1

i think that continuing to practice TI will make you more comfortable and relaxed in the water which should help you to not become so agitated in the water that you waste energy and air while swimming.

i would continue to work on swimming with maximum relaxation, so least effort for maximum result. or, how can you swim fast while using virtually no energy?

to help with that end, can you post some swim videos?

re: issue 2.

it is conceivable that in your attempt to swallow lots of air, that some of it made it into your stomach. but are you sure it's not water that's gone down into your stomach?

potentially the more relaxed you become, the more even and natural your breathing will become and then you will also have less going somewhere else besides your lungs...
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  #4  
Old 08-10-2011
tommy2000 tommy2000 is offline
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Like many others, I've struggled with breathing over the YEARS! I've concentrated on better swimming all around this year because I've signed up to do triathlons. Prior years of swimming was just in general enjoying being in the water, but feeling my "fate" was just to be a 25 to 50 yard swimmer.

This year, I spent some time with a swim coach which helped to refine my overall stroke. Breathing though was still an issue. However, over the past month, I feel like I've finally "got it" when it comes to breathing. I'm increasing my distances regularly, and have fewer and fewer bad breathing days.

What helped me was three main things:

1) I start every swim session doing bobs in the cadence I usually breath swimming (breath in 1 sec, out 3), and the amounts that I want to inhale (a nice relaxed but quick inhalation that's NOT trying to fill my lungs to capacity) and relaxed exhale.

I do this before, and after every set of laps that I'm swimming. Helps a lot

2) Practice really laying tall in the water, just feeling relaxed having the support of the water. That in turn helps me have a tension-free rotation.

3) Kicking a lot less. I now do a 4 beat kick, and am working on a two beat. You'll use a lot less oxygen with less kicking.

Good luck!

Tom
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  #5  
Old 08-15-2011
CoachBillL CoachBillL is offline
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Default Working on breathing

One of my students swallowed so much air that he'd end up lying on the pool deck with a distended abdomen -- very unpleasant. I had the same problem after long swims when I started to work on bilateral breathing because my timing was off on the "wrong" side. Your two problems -- gasping and swallowing air -- are the same, really: not feeling you have enough time to breathe properly. Practice Terry's two approaches to breathing: breathe in "sweet spot" a lot and very gradually increase the cadence and decrease the number of breaths you take. This allows you to practice staying balanced and breathing in a leisurely way. (See the O2in H2O dvd.) Also try the "nodding" technique: from nose down, take a "not-breath" and then another, a little closer to the air; then breathe. I find the "Skate-breathe-skate" drill very useful also, because it allows you to practice taking just one good breath at a time. Drills are essential for working on this -- if you only do whole-stroke practice it's going to take a lot longer to get anywhere!
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Old 08-22-2011
tab tab is offline
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I find I can skate on one side very easily but the other is in need of work.

Where in the scheme of things does burping come into play, is it a sign of too much air or holding air in? I read something on the forum a while back, but can't place it. I find I am unsure of my self for the first half hour and usually I get the burps then all is better as I relax more.
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  #7  
Old 08-22-2011
terry terry is offline
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'Swallowing' Air (instead of just inhaling it) I think this tends to come from over-breathing, feeling you need to FILL your lungs, instead of getting - and exhaling - just enough. Also focus on an active exhale and passive inhale. And finally, make your air exchange continuous. No pauses or breath-holdings, not even for an instant.

Having enough Time. When people report feeling rushed to breathe, I counsel them to breathe at the earliest possible instant in the freestyle stroke cycle. It's very easy to breathe a bit too later - impossible to breathe too early.
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  #8  
Old 08-30-2011
TheFrog TheFrog is offline
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Thanks for the tips! Over the weekend, I participated in my last triathlon of the season, so I've plenty of time to play with technique before I attempt to race again. In his first sentence, CoachBillL managed to describe me after a swim quite well. At my last race, it wasn't as much of a problem, but that was only because I ended up doing most of it in backstroke mode. Not an ideal way to swim in an Olympic tri, but it got me there. Amusingly enough, it was the fastest 1.5K swim I've done in a triathlon this season by a good 15 minutes.

Once the results of a minor bike mishap heal a bit (the pedal refused to let go of my foot at an inopportune moment a quarter of the way through the bike leg of my last tri), it is going to be time to do a LOT of drilling. I'm also going to learn breaststroke just for the sake of being a better overall swimmer. Since breathing is built in to every stroke of breaststroke, I may be able to find a comfortable rhythm that I can translate into freestyle.

I'll let you know how my experiments go when I've had a bit of time to play with my breathing technique. I may even throw in some video if I can find the charger for my waterproof video camera!
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  #9  
Old 10-17-2011
TheFrog TheFrog is offline
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Default I think I've got it (finally).

Greetings, friendly Total Immersion folks!

After much browsing of the forums, a lot of pool time, and a lot of thought, I've figured out sustainable breathing. There were actually a fair number of things going on that were getting in the way.

One of the issues was that my balance was just a bit off. My thought process ran along the lines of, "if my balance is good, I should be able to take as much time as I could possibly need to take a breath." Slowing down and taking a bit more time to breathe helped a bit, but it wasn't exactly a breakthrough.

The biggest problem turned out to be highly counter-intuitive. One would think that in order to feel less out of breath, the solution would be to breathe more often. It got to the point where I was trying to breathe every other stroke. Even then, I wasn't able to swim for more than about 50 meters without taking a few minutes to catch my breath. It seems rather backwards, but the solution was to breathe much less frequently. This was where I made my breakthrough.

Instead of every other stroke or every third stroke, my sweet spot seems to be about every five to seven strokes. My breathing while swimming now strongly resembles how I breathe while singing. I wouldn't exactly call it "a quick gulp of air" or even necessarily "just enough", but it is a lot more comfortable and I can sing all day. :)

In the process, I figured out how to swim while staying VERY relaxed. I'd not really noticed while I was desperately trying to get enough air, but I was accumulating a lot of tension in my chest. I may have never noticed if I hadn't dramatically slowed down my breathing rate. It has taken time and a lot of practice, but I think I've banished that tension. It comes back occasionally, but now that I'm aware of what it feels like, I can make minor adjustments to my breathing pattern (a process that frequently involves humming Broadway showtunes while swimming) and git rid of the tension fairly quickly.

I'm not sure how far I can go with my newly found sustainable breathing, but it is FAR longer than 50 meters. At the moment, I've gone as far as half a mile without stopping for an air break, but I felt like I could keep it up for a lot longer. (The only reason I stopped was that I've not figured out the fine art of turning in a pool and managed to hit the wall in an uncomfortable fashion.)

Thanks for all your help while I figured out my breathing issues. Don't know if my experiences will help anyone else with their breathing difficulties, but I thought I'd post an update.
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  #10  
Old 11-07-2011
wisswim wisswim is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by terry View Post
'Swallowing' Air (instead of just inhaling it) I think this tends to come from over-breathing, feeling you need to FILL your lungs, instead of getting - and exhaling - just enough. Also focus on an active exhale and passive inhale. And finally, make your air exchange continuous. No pauses or breath-holdings, not even for an instant.

Having enough Time. When people report feeling rushed to breathe, I counsel them to breathe at the earliest possible instant in the freestyle stroke cycle. It's very easy to breathe a bit too later - impossible to breathe too early.
As your arm recovers, it goes from down on your side, to your elbow being at its highest point. That movement of the arm also "opens up your ribcage" and you can try to feel as if that ribcage-opening is drawing air in passively. You open up your chest in the recovery phase (hand leaving the water to elbow straight up) and not really from the spearing phase.

Over-breathing giant gulps of air is unnecessary and tension producing. You need small bites of air, and breathe every 2 armstrokes (or every 1 on the first 2 strokes of every length)
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