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Old 05-09-2014
Will_in_NY Will_in_NY is offline
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Default If I exhale, I sink

Hi folks. This is my first posting.

I'm a middle-aged beginning swimmer. I read the TI book cover to cover, and am rereading it. I have watched and studied the Happy Laps and the Freestyle Made Easy videos. I took lessons in New Paltz. I'm practicing the basics about every other day at the local pool.

I'm still struggling.

I'll start off with breathing.

I'm having trouble just trying to find the sweet spot.

If I exhale while in sweet spot, I sink. I can float in sweet spot, with the water at the edge of my goggles and my mouth out of the water, only if I keep my lungs full, and I kick. If I exhale, I go under water. If I stop kicking, my feet eventually sink.

If I keep my lungs full, I can do a deadman float. If I exhale, I sink to the bottom of the pool, and can sit cross-legged down there.

I read the advice for "sinkers" on page 113. I think I can balance in the skate position. However, when I roll for air, and if I have exhaled at all, my mouth doesn't break the surface.

I do not have a swimming partner.

Any thoughts?
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  #2  
Old 05-09-2014
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CoachStuartMcDougal CoachStuartMcDougal is offline
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Hi Will,

Welcome to the forum! And Excellent post.

This is a common problem and I see it frequently. You are emptying your lungs too quickly too early causing you to sink. Many triathletes are told to immediatley empty lungs when face hits the water. You do want to exhale (slowly), but not empty too fast. Empty lungs when rolling to get breath and refill tank quickly.

Each swimmer needs to experirment with their body type on how much air in lungs is needed to maintain buoyancy. A good test is (in pool) is fill lungs (big deep breath) then hold knees to chest and bob face down at surface for a moment. Very slowly exhale until you start to sink. For me, just under 50% capacity, the ship's going down.

Here's a SwimVice video on this very subject that may be helpful too: SwimVice: Breathing and Buoyancy

Stuart
MindBodyAndSWIM
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Old 05-09-2014
Penguin Penguin is offline
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As Stuart said, it could be just be a matter of degree, and you may be getting ahead of yourself on the exhale. Most of us can stand or sit on the bottom if we exhale enough.

On the other hand, there are sinkers. In the sixties, I taught swimming at a scout camp on Long Island. Of the what must have been thousands of swimmers I came across, there was one true sinker. He could fill his lungs, go down to the bottom, and do push-ups on the sand. Despite that, he did not struggle in the water. He was a good swimmer, was actually one of our fellow waterfront counselors.

Back to your question. When I first tried them a couple of years ago, I had and still have to some extent, trouble breathing on those skate and/or spear drills. I'm sure I am not the only one. If you look at some of the TI videos, Easy Freestyle or O2 in H2O, (not sure which, maybe both) you may notice that in some of the demonstrations, Terry is almost on his back, his face to the sky. (Dolphins and whales get to breathe with their noses pointing straight up.)

In these demos, he is almost stationary in the water, making very little headway. In other demos, with the dynamics of forward motion and angular momentum to help (it is beyond me right now to explain just how) you see him not rolling nearly so far to breathe.

A good early sequence for you might be to roll up far ehough that you can take a couple of comfortable breaths, roll back down and do your switching and gliding. When you want air again, roll up on the other side or switch again and roll back up on the first side, and take a couple of breaths. You will likely find it works better on one side than the other.

Don't spend too much time on this all at once, but do come back to it again and again. It will get easier. You will find yourself not having to roll up as far and spending more time looking down at that black stripe.

Forward motion does help. Swim fins are often mentioned at this stage. If you are not getting enough drive out of your kick, they may be just the little extra you need to get this working.
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Old 05-12-2014
Will_in_NY Will_in_NY is offline
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Thank you for the advice, folks. I appreciate it. I read the messages (and other ones on the board), I watched the recommended video, and I took the advice to the pool.

At the pool today, I did that buoyancy test. As I knew, I'm not an automatic sinker. (I suspect I was when I was a child, but not now.) As with you, CoachStuartMcDougal, at about 50% or so of air expelled, I started to sink.

I practiced, among other things, gliding then rolling for air. The problem was that when I tried to breathe, I got inconsistent results. Sometimes I could take a few breaths. Other times, I'd exhale for the breath then my mouth would sink beneath the water, and not reemerge until I broke form to grab a breath any way I could.

I am going to have to develop a balance. If I try to breathe naturally, I tend to sink. If I try to keep from sinking, I tend to hold my breath and take shallow breaths.

I also read Nicodemus's thread about one length to one mile, before posting my first message. The problem is that, again, it seems to be those short, shallow breaths that keep my mouth out of the water. When I try to breathe naturally, I sink.

I know it can be done, for other people do it. It's just a matter of learning how to do so myself.
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Old 05-12-2014
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Hi Will,

The good news is you're not a "sinker". Reading your descriptions, most of the problem is position, balance, and timing. A good test to see if you are in correct position is do Superman to (good) Skate - then roll chin to shoulder and see if you get air. If you find only water and no air, position and balance are off.

Any one or combination of the following will prevent you from getting air in Skate: 1. lifting head, 2. tension in neck pushing head down, 3. over-rotation, shoulders are stacked, 4. recovery elbow is lifting above the surface (causes arched back and hips sink). We often refer to this as the "chicken wing". Make sure recovery arm (non skating arm) is molded to the front of body and not wrapped around outside of hip.

If you can, have someone take an above surface video (cam phone is fine) of at least 8-12 strokes and getting at least one breath in whole-stroke, breathing toward the the person filming. And another video of the Skate rolling chin to shoulder breath - and post here.

Stuart
MindBodyAndSWIM
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Old 05-13-2014
Will_in_NY Will_in_NY is offline
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Okay, I just tried Superman to skate to roll chin to shoulder, a bunch of times, earlier this evening.

If I held my breath until I rolled chin to shoulder, I got air.

If I exhaled at all first, such as to clear my mouth and nose of water before inhaling, I didn't consistently get air. Sometimes I got water. Sometimes my face never broke the surface.

If I tried to get a few breaths, my face would often sink below the surface when I exhaled.

1/ I caught myself lifting my head once. Otherwise, I don't think I was doing so.

2/ I don't think I was tensing my neck. I tried to relax it.

3/ I'm not sure that I understand what you mean by "over-rotation." Sometimes I turned my head. Other times I went to sweet spot, or even to flat on my back.

4/ I wasn't even attempting to raise my recovery arm in any of these breathing exercises. I kept my recovery arm by my side with my palm on my thigh.

I want to avoid what some call "stacked breathing:" breathing in without expelling stale air, to the point that one has lungs full of stale air yet breathless. But if I exhale very much, I sink and can't breathe.

Re video: I don't think the pool permits the filming of videos. I'll see if I can confirm this.

I'm not yet to the point of taking 8-12 strokes. I'm still working on the basics: finding sweet spot, superman, skate, skate switch, etc.

In the bigger picture, I can tell that I'm making progress in terms of developing skills, but actually having fun is still elusive. It's tiresome getting water up my nose into my sinuses, and down my throat to make me cough and gag, and struggling with all of these skills. Sigh.
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Old 06-17-2015
Cornelis Cornelis is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachStuartMcDougal View Post
Hi Will,

Welcome to the forum! And Excellent post.

This is a common problem and I see it frequently. You are emptying your lungs too quickly too early causing you to sink. Many triathletes are told to immediatley empty lungs when face hits the water. You do want to exhale (slowly), but not empty too fast. Empty lungs when rolling to get breath and refill tank quickly.

Each swimmer needs to experirment with their body type on how much air in lungs is needed to maintain buoyancy. A good test is (in pool) is fill lungs (big deep breath) then hold knees to chest and bob face down at surface for a moment. Very slowly exhale until you start to sink. For me, just under 50% capacity, the ship's going down.

Here's a SwimVice video on this very subject that may be helpful too: SwimVice: Breathing and Buoyancy

Stuart
MindBodyAndSWIM
Hi Stuart, thank you sooo much for your advice on not totally exhaling to maintain buoyancy. I was stuck on skate-to-air for a couple of weeks, always sinking or being just under the water level when I turned. Just reducing the exhalation from my nose sorted everything out...so happy...2 months till Budapest Half Ironman....going to be a close call to be ready!
Also big thanks to Will in NY for posting his questions! :-)
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Old 06-18-2015
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CoachStuartMcDougal CoachStuartMcDougal is offline
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That's great to hear Cornelis! It takes time to discover good breathing timing and a continuous exchange; really a very controlled exhale followed by a quick inhale to maintain buoyancy, getting enough o2. The wetsuit keeps you buoyant making up of position errors that make breathing difficult too (not sure if you are wearing a wetsuit in Budapest)

I just read a triathlon piece on breathing with a warning of having too much air in the lungs causing hips and legs to sink. This advice seems to be spreading throughout the triathlon world. Having more air in lungs does not make hips heavier, but rather errors in body position causing hips/legs to sink.

The primary position errors that cause hips/legs to sink are 1. lifting head, looking forward and 2. reaching high and flat with recovery arm in front of head. When weight is displaced above the lungs, the back end is going to sink -- that's Newton's 3rd law of motion and gravity in action, not too much air :-)

Good luck at IM Budapest, you will rock (and breathe well on) the swim, bike and run - have FUNNN!

Cheers!

Stuart
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Old 06-19-2015
jenson1a jenson1a is offline
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Coach Stuart

Regarding your statement: The primary position errors that cause hips/legs to sink are 1. lifting head, looking forward and 2. reaching high and flat with recovery arm in front of head. When weight is displaced above the lungs, the back end is going to sink -- that's Newton's 3rd law of motion and gravity in action, not too much air :-)

Isn't there a drill which says to push off in sg, then skate, and then lift recovery arm and position it overhead and see how far you can glide before rotating? I think this is a balance drill, but if it causes the hips and legs to sink, isn't that counter productive?

I have been doing this drill a lot and it probably has contributed to my pause at hand entry and also some hip/leg sinking.

Sherry
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Old 06-19-2015
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jenson1a View Post
Isn't there a drill which says to push off in sg, then skate, and then lift recovery arm and position it overhead and see how far you can glide before rotating? I think this is a balance drill, but if it causes the hips and legs to sink, isn't that counter productive?

I have been doing this drill a lot and it probably has contributed to my pause at hand entry and also some hip/leg sinking.
Hi Sherry,

I'm not sure of the drill by your description. You may be describing "zipper switch" which is not used any more due to creating a cramped recovery and instability as you note. The Swing Skate and Swing switch most of the recovery arm is in the water as a rehearsal for a fluid recovery and maintain lateral balance and weight as recovery arm moves to full forward position or "swing"

There is an "over-switch" exercise that involves a slight pause in full forward recovery position, but in whole stroke. This is not to feel an extra glide, but rather feel the weight of both arms in front of lungs that tip body forward to raise the hips - "swimming downhill" feeling.

Other than skate drill, there is no pause at hip with recovery arm to gain a longer glide. I refer to the pause at hip as a "Cardinal Sin" since 1. interrupts rhythm of a fluid stroke and its momentum, and 2. weight of recovery arm pausing at hip, stopping momentum, additional weight behind lungs, triggers over rotation elbow creep over torso - hips drop.

Hope that helps and/or makes sense.

Stuart
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