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  #11  
Old 09-16-2011
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Originally Posted by russparker22 View Post

One other thing I noticed is that my lead hand was really pushing downward as I roll to breathe. So I focused on trying to keep it on its track or at least more in in front of me.

Happy to have comments or suggestions. Russell
Yes, I feel your pain. This is a problem, which when you overcome, will make a large difference. You should be able to roll to air without relying on the lead arm assisting the breath. This has taken me months to realize, and I now can do one side and will work on the other as soon as I can get back to the pool. It is going to be an exciting fall and winter.
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  #12  
Old 09-17-2011
CoachCari CoachCari is offline
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Hi Russ,

I've been coaching TI swimmers for about 12 years (and grew up with it-- Terry's my father), although I'm not very active on the forum. I noticed your post and thought I'd respond with some feedback. The previous posters have already pointed out many useful considerations to take into account, particularly the fact that the breathing does not come naturally in the initial stages. That said, if a new student is having difficulty with the breathing (as almost all do!), I spend a good amount of time with them on just breathing and nothing else, until the breathing feels comfortable. After all, you can't do anything well if you can't get a good breath! It's possible that you may also be expending a lot of energy if you are not balanced, but it sounds like you are getting winded partially because of less-than-ideal breathing technique.

For the following, you can go to the pool or simply use a clear mixing bowl and fill it with warm water-- it allows you to practice breathing without the necessity of a pool and some people find they are less self-conscious when they can practice this sitting at home. A good starting point is to take a plastic mirror (shaving mirrors work well-- just try to get a non-breakable one) and hold it underwater so that you can see what you're doing with your mouth and nose as you breathe. If you're using the clear glass bowl, put the mirror on the table under the bowl-- then you can see yourself when you lower your face in (goggles needed!). Many folks will instinctively exhale underwater with their mouth mostly closed-- imagine if you exhaled that way normally (out of the water)! Very uncomfortable, right?

So, take a look and notice where you see the bubbles coming from-- Mouth? Nose? Both? What's the volume? A slow, steady stream is ideal for easy-moderate pace swimming (more forceful exhales are usually necessary when swimming fast). Exhale the last 10-20% of air at the end, as your face is exiting the water. Is your mouth closed or mostly closed? I recommend allowing the mouth to hang open and that should relax tension in the mouth, face, and throat, in particular. Think about being completely slack-jawed, as if letting all tension melt from your face.

Don't attempt to do anything other than breathe and see how that looks in the mirror or how it simply feels. Conversely, you can close your eyes and block out other stimuli, so that you can simply tune into the nuances of what you feel when you breathe. If you're used to a more closed-mouth exhale, it often feels strange to feel the water on your palate, although you won't be swallowing any since you're exhaling. Most folks seem to have an aversion to feeling water in their mouth and on their tongue as they're swimming, but it usually produces a more relaxed breath.

The trick with breathing in swimming is to simulate a "natural breath" as much as possible-- meaning, you inhale through your mouth and you exhale from your mouth (and nose too, but less so). The nose exhale is primarily useful only for the transition of the face rolling into the water and back out of the water, to keep water from going up your nose. After the face has rolled in, then I allow my mouth to hang open again while I stroke. In most cases, swimmers cannot exhale for as long or as comfortably when they are mostly exhaling just from their nose.

With that in mind, I also find it helpful to have swimmers take a minute or so to practice some relaxed breaths with their face out of the water (just standing or sitting on a step). Take a relaxed, comfortable inhale and slowly exhale. Do this several times-- there is a clear reason that breathing is used as a universal relaxation technique in all forms of meditation. You'll notice that the air "wants" to come out; you don't have to push it out, you just simply let it come out, right? After practicing this several times (as a sort of "warm-up"), you want to try to simulate this feeling when you practice exhaling underwater. Again, take a comfortable inhale, then lower your face into the water and try exhaling with your mouth hanging open, as I described earlier. You can still use the mirror if it helps-- some folks find the visual feedback to be useful.

Take a lot of time experimenting with this and exploring the nuances of breathing underwater before you move on to further practice with dynamic stroke mechanics. All of that will be much easier if you can breathe more comfortably! If you find that you can breathe comfortably after trying this, try maintaining a comfortable exhale with simply floating or doing Superman glide.

If you can do that, but still keep getting winded with more advanced drills, you'll want to first check your breathing in the advanced drills and see if you're using the same techniques you practiced earlier. Adding in more complex poses/movements will often take your focus away from the breathing and your exhale may have changed, since it is your secondary focus. If you still find that you're getting winded, most likely you are expending a lot of energy and will benefit more from spending a good amount of time on balance drills or short sets of slow switches, alternating with a long, restful breath in Sweet Spot.

That's the best I've got, at least for "coaching" at a distance, but I hope you find some of this helpful-- let us know how it goes!

Good luck,
Cari Laughlin

Last edited by CoachCari : 09-17-2011 at 01:36 AM.
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  #13  
Old 09-17-2011
CoachBobM CoachBobM is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by russparker22 View Post
Went and swam during my lunch. I was determined to do more than 50 Yds. Just as before, my heart rate quickly shot up and I was winded, even though I was trying to go very slow. So, I decided to roll to sweet spot every time I needed a breath and swam around 300 yds without stopping. (I actually lost count.)
Since you're apparently comfortable rolling to your sweet spot to breathe, you might try the following:

1) Try to shorten the time you spend in your sweet spot: Make sure you've exhaled each time when you reach your sweet spot, then take in a quick breath, roll from your sweet spot to your skate position (i.e., from nose up to nose down), and then continue swimming.

2) Once that feels comfortable, see whether you can take your breath without rolling all the way to your sweet spot. If you succeed, just roll back to your skate position and continue swimming. Keep experimenting to see how much you can reduce the roll while still getting a full breath in.

Quote:
I noticed I have very "active" legs and tried to quiet them down. I really can't do this toe flick stuff, at least not yet. Having my legs more "together" seemed to help with balance too. Am I on the right track here? I also have very inflexible feet from running I suppose.
You might benefit from doing vertical kicking. Go to the deep end of the pool, fold your arms across your chest, and keep your head above the water by kicking. Kick from your hips and ankles rather than from your knees. You can transition from this to horizontal kicking by starting vertical kicking and then letting yourself "fall back" onto your back while still kicking.

Once you're comfortable with vertical kicking, you can try adding quarter turns, first in one direction and then in the other, to get a feel for how your kick integrates with your body roll.


Bob
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  #14  
Old 09-17-2011
Alex-SG Alex-SG is offline
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RussParker,
Have you tried this?
http://www.totalimmersion.net/forum/...ead.php?t=2602

ALEX
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  #15  
Old 09-17-2011
wisswim wisswim is offline
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Since you are very athletic it is not your aerobic capacity that is the problem.

I will bet that you are either holding tension in your chest or you are breathing too forcefully.

Many swimmers are trying to "hold their form" or "reach for a long line" and they are holding their chest stiffly and not letting their ribs expand and contract without tension.

Many runners get into a forceful and frequent breathing pattern. That can be just fine when you are running, but in swimming you are forced to keep breathing at a slower rate.

Your breathing should be at a pace and effort and sense of ease the same way as if you were taking a moderate walk.

One of the best ways to retrain yourself is to make breathing your "regulator" -- swim with a very relaxed breathing effort making sure your ribs are moving freely in and out. If you feel you have to breathe any harder, stop IMMEDIATELY. If that is 10 yards, fine. Stand up, or "drownproof" (DON'T tread water), and then start again. The trick is to NOT get into the old bad habit of frequent and/or forceful breathing. Keep this going for a whole pool session, 10 or 20, or 35 yards at a time.

Do this for a few weeks and I will bet you will see a difference. The distance will come but first you need relaxed breathing.

I know Leah Nyikes, a TI coach in Ohio, incorporates the "yogic breathing" AKA drownproofing in her workouts between reps. I will bet also if you do the drownproofing technique for 15 or 20 minutes at a time you will gain some insight into relaxed breathing in the water.
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Last edited by wisswim : 09-17-2011 at 03:46 PM.
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  #16  
Old 09-17-2011
wisswim wisswim is offline
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Also, some people make a distinction between "chest breathing" and "diaphragmatic breathing." I think many people don't understand what is really going on there.

Your diaphragm is actually attached to the last few ribs and the area of the abdomen just below that. You will be using your diaphragm if you are allowing your lower ribs and your upper abdominal area to move freely.

If you hold your chest rigid while you move your tummy in and out you won't be using your diaphragm. Also, if you hold your abdominal muscles rigid and just move your upper rib cage you won't be using your diaphragm either.

As I said, allow your lower ribs and the upper abdominal area to move freely and your breathing will improve tremendously.
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  #17  
Old 09-19-2011
RobM77 RobM77 is offline
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I had the exact same problem. I couldn't swim more than 25 metres, so I learnt TI from an excellent coach who worked wonders on my stroke, and that increased my endurance to 50 metres. All the while I could cycle and run in reasonably competitive times without a problem.

What I did was just keep swimming for day after day, week after week and month after month. After a while I started to notice that when running and cycling I was breathing less often, and gradually my swimming endurance improved. I then started to swim much slower, and the ability to swim 800 metres just arrived, literally overnight. I'm now trying to get the speed back, which I think will take longer.

So, I'd say 1) Get stroke right, 2) improve swimming fitness (different to running or cycling etc) and 3) slow down until you hit the endurance mark. That worked for me anyway :-)
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  #18  
Old 09-19-2011
wanted-66 wanted-66 is offline
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I'm very new too. Was a happy paddler and 'floater'....! A friend started me learning to swim about 10 weeks ago (not TI) and I found TI on youtube and was fascinated.
I have the DVD etc, been thinking the TI way for about 6 weeks.
I can now swim 1 1/2 lengths of a 25m pool in one go. One thing I have found to help with breathing is to slow stroke rate right down, kick just a little, and breath very 'consciously'. Turn body and then head (just a bit) to breathe very carefully in 2 definite stages. Somehow doing this makes me much more relaxed and less breathless. I'm trying to forget speed and concentrate on technique. Every lap I choose some tiny bit to work on.
Using video for feedback is really helpful too.
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  #19  
Old 09-19-2011
WFEGb WFEGb is offline
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Hi Russparker22,

think you realized, you're not alone with breathing problems, so feel encouraged by all these posts. (Myself just managed 1000m non stop freestyle first time three weeks ago..... and sooooo happy about...)

My tip: Read RonM77's whole thread in the Freestyle forum "Getting out of breath". It could be "your thread" as it has been "mine".

First conjecture: Especially swimmers in a general good physical condition get into some bad mood about their freestyle some time before they master their longer continues distance. Only few succeed expanding their distances uniformly.
Terry wrote anywhere: All pieces will fall together in a right way (or similar). (And this often seems happen unexpectedly.... WFEGb)

Hypothesis: In all that wonderful TI-drills we get an exactly feeling what's right and what's wrong and can make corrections mm for mm. Breathing is an other story you'll get it or not and realize it after 10-20-30 strokes...

Second conjecture: The stroke you're swimming when you first have done your longer distance is not the stroke you'll judge as your best felt.

Proof with n=1: I'm still not able to swim "my" 1000m with "my best" felt stroke in bilateral breathing.

(Not only) my 2cts: Give yourself the opportunity and swim some lengths without concentrating on any drill. Just swim freestyle. (Six Week Beginner Freestyle Stroke Efficiency Program)

Third conjecture: Everyone has his own 1-2mm anywhere missing in his stroke.

Proof with n=1: Till last week I had to inhale on my right side on every second stroke for swimming a longer distance. It was not too easy to find out where I moved asymmetrical. It's been my left elbow not recovering in an as wide circle backward as my right. Concentrating on this and some gymnastic allowed now swimming 50m right and then 50m left breathing.

Second(third) tip: Get the O2toH2O-DVD with many tips on breathing.

Stay tuned, you'll make it!
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  #20  
Old 09-19-2011
RobM77 RobM77 is offline
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That thread I started has indeed received a huge amount of responses. It may be interesting to note that I posted the same problem on another forum and received even more responses, almost all of which were based around questions regarding my technique, so that's definitely the first port of call if we trust their experience (which I do). I actually met with a coach from that forum (who generously came and swam with me at my local pool) and she said there was nothing wrong with my stroke at all, but did suggest breathing out through my mouth and nose, rather than just my nose. This got me up from 50 metres to 80 metres and made me relax a lot more. Ultimately though, it was persistance that got me there. I've put "slowing down" last in my post above, because I initially found it impossible to slow down below 1m/s because my breaths were too infrequent. I couldn't slow down till I'd been swimming regularly over a year. It was the persistant swimming which seems to have got my body used to exercising whilst breathing less often and allowed me access to slow swimming at practical SPLs, which has now given me a max endurance of about 800 metres. It's still all air related though - I can do 50 metres in 32/33 seconds if I actually use my muscles properly in a sprint and just breathe a handful of times. I'm down to double that with breaths every stroke do my 800 metres, and with billateral only about 150-200 metres before I get exhausted!
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