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  #11  
Old 06-17-2013
StuartK StuartK is offline
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Talvi, I went for a walk and was trying to imitate your 'swimming breathing' and only got breathless when I held my breath regularly for a second or two. I wonder therefore if you are doing what I did, up to a few weeks ago, and you are holding your breath at some stage of the cycle or breathing out in a staccato fashion? If you think about it, to your sub-conscious, laying face down in the water and not breathing even for a short time is not normal and must create anxiety, especially when you don't respond immediately and get yourself out of that situation.
So try swimming slowly and start breathing out, in a slow steady stream, the moment your face returns to the water, no holding your breath. Just like you breathe on dry land in-out no pause a steady flow. Not original I know, the DVD and the coaches all say breathe out slowly and steadily underwater, trickle breathing, but easily overlooked, and I got in the habit of breathing out staccato fashion with each arm stroke.
Let us know if it helps, it worked for me, and distance is building.
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  #12  
Old 06-17-2013
Mike from NS Mike from NS is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dgk2009 View Post
In my experience with swimming all the drilling and practice,which I agree is part of it,will get you no where untill you are at ease in the water,I know because going on 4 years of struggle this is still my problem,but inch by inch I make small improvements,for some it comes fast,for others not so much,many in my place would have given up long ago,but I keep moving forward because one day the water will become my friend,and on that day I will rejoice,even if it takes my whole life,hang in there,it will come.
"At ease in the water", I think says it all. Trying to secure this ease is why I spend some of my swim time just playing. I go to the bottom (12ft deep) generally feet first ; but recently I swim down and touch my head on the bottom. One lady noted she saw this and asked if it was some sort of breath control drill. I told her that it was my way of convincing my self that I could just get there and survive the trip. It helps me become more at ease in the water. At other times I may just jump in vertically with legs together together and sink to sitting on the bottom ..... again just playing to become more comfortable and at ease. All else will follow --- I hope. I hope that the ease will cause breathing to just happen without a lot of timed thought; and to breath naturally, as Stuart says.

Now the regular pool has shut down for maintenance and the outdoor pool will open for the summer before the regular one re-opens. Bring on the warm weather !!!
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  #13  
Old 06-18-2013
WFEGb WFEGb is offline
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Hello Talvi,

first let me invite you and become the third donkey. (Maybe we're only two, because Swimust isn't one anymore...) That will help you sooner or later!

Maybe all coaches will get angry, but I'm still convinced, even TI has not resolved the breathing problem in general. Every one has to have the patience to focus here there anywhere or to focus not to focus on anything and give himself the individual time to let the pieces of the puzzle fall together. Swimust's donkey rules will help. But I never found a program of drills for 10, 16, 20, 50 or so weeks guaranteed to get your breathing puzzle to swim in an aerobic state. And that is the breakthrough.

(Some readers will get bored, wrote it sometimes here. But Cooper in the early 1970ies gave a program for jogging. Started by a 12min-test, gave a program for 10,12, or 16 weeks and after that time guaranteed to jogg a mile in 12min... It's quite boring if you're not a passionated jogger, but it works.) He also stated a similar program for swimming. This definetely does not work for freestyle. Here I'd wish TI (w)could log in...

Talvi, you're not alone. And be assured, if you got that fixed you'll soon find another very interesting Problem to be fixed in your swim.

Go on, stay with us and best regards,
Werner

PS: My matra: There's a long thread here "Getting out of breath", maybe you'll find some helpful hints even beside Terry's O2toH2O-DVD.
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  #14  
Old 06-18-2013
swimust swimust is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WFEGb View Post
Hello Talvi,

first let me invite you and become the third donkey. (Maybe we're only two, because Swimust isn't one anymore....
I am back... ;)
Found new insights about the "toe flick" by a routine donkey work while searching for something else...
I am a totally and fully pledged donkey :)
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Last edited by swimust : 06-18-2013 at 09:36 AM.
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  #15  
Old 06-18-2013
Talvi Talvi is offline
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Default Breakthrough!!

First thanks to you all for your encouragement, suggestions, and tips, but even more for your care/concern. That was really lovely to come and find. And thanks Charles for your kind offer too. I'd read Rhoda's reply, but the others all arrived after I'd logged off so I've only just read them. And yes Stuart, I was really a very depressed manatee yesterday. But I've had a breakthrough. Yaaay ! :)

Yesterday I got in, swam 250m with no breathlessness at all, and continued to merilly swim 150-250m sets continuously for about 80 mins. That probably doesn't sound like such a big deal but it is a step-change for me. The only thing that broke it into sets was feeling my physical tiredness making my movements exponentially sloppy. But even then I only paused momentarily. It was addictive. I just HAD to start swimming again. It felt like the best way to relax and get my breath, so how weird is that !?!??! I took only one real break, early on, after about 500m total when I just sat on the bench for 3 or 4 mins, feeling a bit shell shocked and, well, trying to figure out how I felt!

What changed was a focus on ... NOT-breathing! Which may take some explanation!

Brief version ...

The psychological issue in the breathing/breathlessness problem is to do with the functioning of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The key for me was finding a way to trust that (rather amazing) ANS to do what it does brilliantly about 17,000 times a day, that is when I don't think I know better, butt in, and right royally screw things up ! Instead of concerning myself with taking a breath I learned instead how to allow the breath to enter. I decided to put all my trust in my ANS, and let "it" determine how big or how small each breath in or out would be, whenever, however. After all, our ANS is perfectly well aware of when breathing is possible as well as how much and when. It's just hard to trust in it while underwater. It's like going to sleep at night, a little leap of faith, and something we learn best when small, but unless we've got a medical condition, adults don't suffocate in their pillows at night, much less hyperventilate or foget to breathe, so there really is no problem!

So this is the long story, which may help explain wtf I'm rambling on about :)

I had intended to go to the pool yesterday, but it really did feel hopeless. I was on the verge of giving up. Of course I'd go on swimming as I always have, from time to time, but this seemed like it was one thing I was going to have to let go. Maybe that was the life lesson it had for me. I knew it was only psychological, but so what.

During the morning I'd read a blog post about the "pee shiver" that made me laugh, and the author's maverick idea about the role of the ANS in it got me thinking. Not something for the pool, but it did make me think about long summer saunas in the forest lakes here, swimming/floating around between visits, the relaxation and feeling of the water, the pleasure of that coldness and the lazy purposelessness of moving through it. Ten years ago that was the genesis of the first step-change in my swimming. What a contrast that feeling was to now, when I found myself struggling with the sheer futility of going to the pool again ! Just considering the prospect I could feel that breathlessnes in me. I lay down on the bed, frustrated, and aware of the tension in my "solar plexus". It's where chronic asthmatics develop a deep pit (not that my own asthma was anything more than a childhood thing).

A year ago I'd started experimenting with a meditation using my heartbeat as the focus. I had chosen that as I felt I knew the problems the more normal breathing focus would give rise to. But now I focused on just that, on my breathing, with the very centre of that focus on my solar plexus. Almost immediately, the problems began to grow. I / my breathing became confused and erratic. I couldn't decide whether breathing more deeply or more shallowly, more rapidly or more slowly improved things. The more I tried the worse it seemed to get and, wose still, after a while I felt I couldn't stop. I was lying flat in my back, as relaxed as could be and having problems breathing. Oddly it didn't occur to me to give up. There was a sense of panic. I had to fix this now, to relax, to get a natural rythm back. There was nowhere to go, It was as if I had taken over control of something that I shouldn't have and now couldn't give it back. And then the blindingly obvious hit me:- my body, or that bit of my ANS that manages my breathing knew what to do. I had obliged it to take a back seat, and now like a worker, interrupted by a supercilously arrogant and ignorant boss, it was standing back, waiting, as if to say: "Ok hotshot, you know best, go for it!".

If you've even been in that situation you'll know the only way out is to eat humble pie, to step aside, watch and learn. Workers are incredibly forgiving of management idiocy. So that's what I did, and, d'Oh!, it worked.

The detail is a bit hard to describe. I had to take a back seat, continuously holding back from trying, focusing on relaxing, and letting go, seeking to match and support what my ANS was trying. It was like having two left feet and learning to dance with a gracious, patient and very talented partner. When I finally looked at my watch it was some 90mins later, and I'd learned something.

Even so, I went to the pool, on auto-pilot. I didn't and don't really know how or why I got out the door. My mood, on the bus was a vacant grey and that continued into the showers. It seemed like every week for the last year or more I've excitedly thought "Ahah,THAT's IT!", only to find myself in the pool exploring yet another interesting avenue that led nowhere far.

Thinking again about sauna, I decided that's where I'd start. Why bother to hurry? It was going to be another disappointment. So I just sat there in the pool's sauna, for 15 mins or so, until I was heated through but not beginning to tire. Then I dragged myself off to the pool.

It did feel good, dropping into the water, and I started, as normal, pushing gently off from the wall and enjoying that sense of lying on top of the water. This time though, as I had decided I just let breaths come and go, centreing all my effort on relaxing my solar plexus and accepting what happened. I let my ANS do its thing, trusted it, and, astonishingly (?!), it worked.

So that's it :) Now I just hope I don't lose it! It was great finally to be able to play with technique, breathing to one side or another, mixing things up, during laps even, slowing down, speeding up, lengthening stroke or shortening it. It was as if I had a built in snorkel ! So Stuart, my dear fellow manatee wannabe, I offer this idea of dryland practice breathing, focusing on your solar plexus, learning to feel for and trustingly follow wherever your ANS leads. It really worked for me, and has joined up a lot of the dots, those briefer flashes in practice where something seemed to click for a while.

I hope this tome helps, and thanks again for all your kind support. It is sincerely appreciated. My apologies for the length of this, but I hope you'll indulge me. This has been such a great thing for me I am grinning, 24 hrs later, and looking forward to a few days celebrating Juhannus by and in the forest lakes :)
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A psychological disorder is: "Any personal construction which is used repeatedly in spite of consistent invalidation."
~ George Kelly

"The water is your friend.....you don't have to fight with water, just share the same spirit as the water, and it will help you move."
~ Aleksandr Popov
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  #16  
Old 06-18-2013
Talvi Talvi is offline
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Default ..... and some more specific thanks

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhoda View Post
Have you posted in the O2 forum?
I probably should have Rhoda but it seemed "more" than about a breathing technique at the time.
Quote:
Originally Posted by StuartK View Post
As you say it's breathing that appears to be the main cause of the problem, provided you can get air then the swimming style is immaterial.
I did find that the case Stuart. Playing with technique became just that: playing. It became a game, a diversion in the water, something for fun rather than survival.
Quote:
Originally Posted by dgk2009 View Post
it,will get you no where untill you are at ease in the water
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richardsk View Post
Enjoy the process and forget the goal.
Sooooooooooooo true ! And something I knew but could not get to.
Quote:
Originally Posted by andyinnorway View Post
the first couple of times you swim 400m straight it can feel like a lung buster, but once you've done it, the mile comes very quickly.
I'm trying NOT to get too excited by all this, but maybe a mile is actually a realistic "goal" now ! I can't believe I'm going to be able to repeat yesterday, but in a sense I don't care. I feel like I've found the door.
Quote:
Originally Posted by tomoy View Post
Try not to compare yourself to others .. But as best you can, ask what feels good, what feels bad, better, worse? ... I had a very hard time breaking a mile at any reasonable pace. ..Only after advice from a coach here did I try breathing every 2-strokes vs. my every 3
Easier said than done i find. Drives me crazy when a lady gets in and I find myself peacocking ! I stumbled across that 4 stroke/3 stroke thing yesterday. It was such a shock I had to switch back to 2 stroke ! Gently gently catchee monkee !
Quote:
Originally Posted by nicka View Post
i am stuffed after the first 100 meters but i find that the tiredness after that does not get much worse .. to swim over a reef or some sand with fish swimming around makes it so enjoyable and relaxing and will allow you to go on and on. My furthest swim to date is 3.2 Km open water only stopping cause i got hungry
Lovely post Nick, and wise advice imo. I've noticed the "wall" thing in running, after about a kilometre or so, and the suddenly my ANS flips into the right gear and I can run myself into the ground. I do open water swimming here, but the lakes are full of silt. Maybe a holiday is called for :) Did you eat a packed lunch, like a sea otter ?! :D
Quote:
Originally Posted by StuartK View Post
to your sub-conscious, laying face down in the water and not breathing even for a short time is not normal and must create anxiety ... start breathing out, in a slow steady stream, the moment your face returns to the water,
This is exactly along the lines of what I've been exploring Stuart :) I think the problem is over-control, or trying to take control at all. Even before yesterday I'd found that when I got really tired breathing started to work better. As I was too tired to control it it started coming in and out naturally. This was such an odd feeling that at moments I actually began to worry that I might take a breath underwater! (I think this is something that's actually really hard to do) BTW one other thing I discovered yesterday is that deliberately turning your head down into the water after a breath is much better than allowing it to be turned with the body. I know that's the advice but I think it helps with this breathing stuff as it is a declaration of your confidence in breathing. It seems to work, for me anyway, to negate the anxiety.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike from NS View Post
"At ease in the water", I think says it all. Trying to secure this ease is why I spend some of my swim time just playing.
Playing is the original and remains best way to learn I think.
Quote:
Originally Posted by WFEGb View Post
you're not alone. .. Go on, stay with us and best regards
Thanks :) and for the invitation Werner!!
__________________
A psychological disorder is: "Any personal construction which is used repeatedly in spite of consistent invalidation."
~ George Kelly

"The water is your friend.....you don't have to fight with water, just share the same spirit as the water, and it will help you move."
~ Aleksandr Popov

Last edited by Talvi : 07-29-2013 at 07:01 PM.
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  #17  
Old 06-18-2013
swimust swimust is offline
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@ Talvi,
Its great to see someone beating his breathing issues. It must be hard and its a bigger achievement than shaving few seconds of a personal best time.
Its easy for those who don't have this issue, so they don't know what the person with difficulties is going through.

It must be very hard to conquer such thing. Well done !!
We all have issues and no one was born a dolphin.
Swimmers just pretend that they are dolphins. Don't believe them! :)

P.S. - don't get too excited or you will lose it. You know what I mean... just be calm and patient until it "sinks in".
I am also going through changes and when they happen, they just happen. We cant control the timing of our learning process.
Here is a nice link below to cheer you up from someone who is swimming better than us :)
The Path
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Last edited by swimust : 06-18-2013 at 04:18 PM.
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  #18  
Old 06-20-2013
Talvi Talvi is offline
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Default 1 x 500m

So, fwiw, yesterday I completed my first straight 500m! Even though the relaxation focus wasn't as good as on Monday I was still able to come back to it and "recover". In a pool so not open water, but I didn't cheat :D

It didn't take too long either and my SPL seems (when I take it and manage to keep counting!) to be 18. The stroke itself is still like a drunken marionette but now there's a hope of improvement in that, and I can try things out in a continuous set rather than just in a part of a 25m lap.

p.s I learned something from your comment Swimust. Thanks for your support but going to the pool it was like having a nagging albatross around my neck: "You're going to fail! You're going to fail! You know you're going to fail!". I knew why you said it, and I "knew" the truth of that observation on development and change, but it was an "ear worm". The lesson in this cut deep. I hadn't realised before that the same sort of cautionary advice that I have often given to my daughters has that effect on them too. I'd simply interpreted their sulky resaction as some "teen sulkiness". D'Oh!!
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A psychological disorder is: "Any personal construction which is used repeatedly in spite of consistent invalidation."
~ George Kelly

"The water is your friend.....you don't have to fight with water, just share the same spirit as the water, and it will help you move."
~ Aleksandr Popov
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  #19  
Old 06-20-2013
swimust swimust is offline
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@ Talvi,
In my humble nocoach opinion, Mastering breathing is not a light issue like learning to use some muscle or changing a timing. That's why I think that you should not rush it and just do "baby steps". Just let it be until you are comfortable with it. Better be careful than do it wrong or losing it. It has nothing to do with you. Its just how it is.
I may be wrong and you already master it well enough :)
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  #20  
Old 06-20-2013
StuartK StuartK is offline
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Talvi, you leave me splashing in your wake! I'd just done 400 non-stop and I thought I was doing well - now you've raised the bar to 500 :) have some pity!
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