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  #11  
Old 11-05-2012
cs10 cs10 is offline
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The human body has so many primitive survival mechanisms hard wired into it , putting us into "fight or flight " mode, often unnecessarily. In extreme cases when we are tensing right up, gasping through our mouths and panicking madly we get a dump of chemicals into our bloodstream , losing our ability to reason or use fine motor skills but giving us one mad burst of energy to escape the proverbial sabre tooth tiger chasing us.
The solution,much easier said than done, is to keep any muscles we aren't using as relaxed as possible and consciously breathe as calmly as possible,through our nose, using our diaphram. Then our primitive nervous system gets the message "even though I dont really Like this situation I know I'll be alright", rather than " this is dangerous ,I have to defend against this", or even " abandon everything and run for your life".
Be conscious of your breathing and muscle tension in every day life. Maybe your swimming is trying to teach you something you need to learn.
Something like yoga is excellent, and excellent information on breathing can be found if you google :Mike White Optimal breathing.
Because of the unnatural demands modern life puts on our nervous systems many live their lives hovering just below kicking into fight or flight, ready for the slightest thing to tip the balance.
Every thing that ever happens to us is stored in our subconscious. Something as innocent as a worried mother telling us not to go near the water or we might drown, when we are 3 y/o is stored there and can temporarily turn a mature rational adult into a frightened 3y/o, when we are in that situation, and we unwittingly aid this with our panicky breath and tensed up bodies.
Because of the fact we must inhale through our mouth when swimming it is even more important to breathe super smoothly, with no jerky muscle movements.
Good luck, I hope you can see you fears as a chance to learn and grow
rather than a thing to be ashamed of.Maybe it wasn't just coincidence that brought you back to swimming and to T.I.
The secret is to work very gently but firmly into the resistance. There is a zen saying ; " Only when you enter the flames of resistance can you see their illusionary nature"
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  #12  
Old 11-05-2012
cs10 cs10 is offline
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cs10
Default The co2 myth

Quote:
Originally Posted by craig.arnold@gmail.com View Post
My guess is that you are not shedding enough CO2 when you swim, and particularly as flychick has said, you may not be exhaling by breathing out steadily when your face is in the water.

Different people have a different response to rising CO2, but for some it can really make panic set in. I am quite prone to this.

Submerging your face in cold water can cause all sorts of physiological reactions, and you may have a very strong psychological response to those physical changes. I think people vary in this more than natural swimmers realise. In scuba classes you see this. Strong swimmers don't have the same reactions in water as "normal" new scuba divers.

Humans have good reason to be terrified of deep water: we have almost no innate reflexes that will get us out of deep water if we have to swim more than a few meters, and if it's cold it's much worse.

I have done a bit of scuba diving and a fair bit of swimming and I am still prone to the response you have. I find it psychologically much easier to swim in shallow rather than deep water. It's the same sort of thing as walking along a 30cm wide plank on the ground, you could cover kilometres without ever falling off. Put that 30cm plank 50m in the air and most people could hardly take a step.

So how can you get over it? Well if I'm right, then you really need to learn how to breath comfortably first. Most people are natural one-side breathers, but maybe you are not naturally any sided in your breathing. The nod drills help a lot. Don't ever hold your breath. Breath only on one side if you have a moderate/slow stroke rate (but learn to vary which side you breathe on. I am a very strong right-side breather, but I am building up the number of lengths I breathe on the left side. You can for example always look to the lifeguard, so breathe right one way, then turn and breath left on the return lap.

Alternate lengths of backstroke with crawl if you breathe better in backstroke and build up your freestyle distance gradually. If you start getting breathless or panicking then stop for a while.

Another thing that helps me is swimming when the pool is relatively empty. If you are sharing a lane with other people there is extra stress because you will not usually be moving at the same pace.

At least in the pool you don't have to worry about imagining sharks! (I sometimes do this in the sea.)

Perhaps Suzanne could comment on the CO2 issue.
*****There are a lot of misconceptions about co2.It is regarded as an enemy to be expelled. In fact co2 is the important catylist in oxygenating the cells. The paradox of breathing is that minimalist breathing acually stores more co2 in the alveoli of the lungs allowing more oxygenation at a cellular level. The ideal level in the alveoli is 7-8%, not coincedentaly the same percentage an unborn baby gets in the womb. Most modern people have about 4% and people with serious diseases such as cancer about 2-3%.The present level of co2 in the atmosphere is only .03%(it was 3 to 4% when man first appeared on earth),so to have good health and fitness we must breathe correctly to raise the levels in our alveoli.
Try hyperventilating through the mouth for a minuite. You don't get oxygenated, you get dizzy and your nervous system gets on edge.You go from the parasympathetic nervous system(= harmony) to the sympathetic
( = fight or flight) . Heavy exercise gasping for breath doesn't get you "fit"
-it gets your body defending itself.If you force yourself on with sheer will power as a lot of top athletes do, the body finds a way to stop you ,such as chronic fatigue.How many athletes do you hear of with this and how many are hovering just below this point?

What a Godsend the whole concept of T.I. is !!!!!!!!
Till a few hundred years ago newborn babies worldwide were wrapped in swaddling clothes to prevent chest breathing habits,in some countries a thick blanket with a small hole was placed over the crib(increasing co2 levels.
Some sects of monks and some native people would teach children to run while holding a mouthful of water to prevent mouth breathing.
In modern Western birth practices, as soon as the baby leaves the womb with it's 8% co2, the umbilical cord is cut and it is turned upsidedown and slapped.The first breath is a terror filled gasping mouth breath.A lucky few happen on good breathing,most,unless they go out of their way to retrain their bodies carry on through life with sub optimal habits.
When we are swimming' because we must inhale through our mouth and have only a short period of time to do so, any bad breathing habits will be magnified.
In the ideal athletic movement our movement , breathing and alignment
are all in harmony and we are moving in time to our internal rhythms.We should BE BREATHED by the movement ,rather than breathing.T.I. freestyle lends itself perfectly to this. As the arm swings into the recovery, the intercostals stretch and this should initiate the inhale rather than sucking with the breathing muscles. A smooth breath while in alignment = a smooth movement. A smooth movement in alignment initiates the next smooth breath.
Try starting with a super slow stroke rate so you have plenty of time to do a nice smooth breath, then try to keep the breath smooth as you move to normal rate.Once you program this in you will realise that even at a fast rate you have more time to breathe than you would think.
At a high level there is so much going on internally in t.i.swimming,what you can see is only the tip of the iceburg. To quote the dancer,Gabrielle Roth "energy moves in waves, waves move in patterns, patterns move in rhythms, energy, waves patterns , rhythms ; that's all a human being is -nothing more."
In creating T.I. Terry may have created more than he realized.
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  #13  
Old 11-05-2012
craig.arnold@gmail.com craig.arnold@gmail.com is offline
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As far as I have always understood, and I would love to learn more, CO2 regulation is important when breathing in the water.

On land we have essentially no trouble regulating our CO2 level to keep it within VERY narrow bounds, regardless of our level of exertion.

In the water however, both in scuba gear and when swimming we have much more trouble. Having too low CO2 is if anything even more dangerous than too high CO2. Our breathing reflexes are controlled by CO2 levels, not O2 levels. In freediving shallow water blackout from lack of O2 is usually caused by hyperventilation driving down CO2 levels before the dive. You don't feel like you're in deep trouble from lack of O2, but you are because you have flushed so much CO2 that you can hold your breath for longer.

The aim is to manage to breathe easily and naturally so that CO2 levels can remain well regulated when swimming. Too low or too high levels of CO2 can both lead to panic.

Hyperventilation when swimming can be extremely dangerous:

"Medical researchers feel that many pool deaths, classified as drownings, are really the result of shallow-water blackout. Most occur in male adolescents and young adults attempting competitive endurance breath-holding, frequently on a dare."
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  #14  
Old 11-05-2012
timmct timmct is offline
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Default been there

Kargirwar, sorry for the long post but...been there done that. I'm an 'adult onset swimmer', somewhat older than you who had similar feelings. I had a 'traumatic experience' in the water when I was about 5-6 yrs old. During swimming lessons at the community pool, I wandered off to the edge of the 'drop off' and lost my footing. An alert life guard grabbed my arm and pulled me choking and sputtering from the water. From then on I had a subconscious fear of the 'deep end'. I could conquer it for short periods if I knew I could reach the side quickly if needed. But I could quickly become panicked inside if I felt anything was beyond my control.

Fast forward to today. I started learning TI about 5-6 months ago in a 4.5' deep pool. Not a problem. I could stop, put my feet on the bottom and 'recover' as needed. But I wanted to start using a different pool. And that pool has a deep end. So..... I had developed my skills to the 'spear switch' stage, rotating to air, etc. Not easily, but enough to move continuously for 1 length. So I decided to give it a try at the 'big pool'. Everything went well, until the drop off. I felt the same old tension and doubt, as I always did. And I stopped. Right at the ledge. I did that more times than I can ever admit. I even forced myself to make it across. And I made it. Not comfortable, I can tell you that. But I did it.

I had to stop and think: 'What is my major malfunction??' I can tread water, I can float, I can do a reasonable attempt at a back stroke/float....so what's my problem exactly?

I had to think it through for myself. I reminded myself that I was basically swimming in a small cube of water, slightly wider than my shoulders, slightly longer than me with extended arms, and not as tall/deep as me when standing...no matter how deep the pool was or what was below me. Visualize a 'continuous pool' that you see sometimes. I knew I could maintain my position or move through that cube with the skills I had right then at any time I wanted or needed to. So I tried it.

I took off on a lap and, as always, the place where I took my first breath, was over the dreaded ledge. I took my breath and pressed on, took a second breath and started feeling tense, doubtful that I could make it. So I rolled to my back and continued on gently to the end on my back, catching my breath and composure along the way. Now in the deep end, I pushed off from the edge and treaded water for a few minutes then rested at the edge again. When I felt somewhat relaxed, off I went to the shallow end. I rolled to my back if needed, or pressed on if I felt OK. Eventually, I felt better although from time to time my confidence waiverd for a second for whatever reason but now I can relax and maintain control. When I get tired I still have 'moments' when my confidence in my skills falters but I can recover now with my 'continuous pool' image.

You're not alone with this. It's a common fear. And you can and will figure it out. You may need to find an image that you can use to remind yourself of your skills and build your confidence in small stages. It won't happen in one session though.

Hope this helps!
Tim
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  #15  
Old 11-05-2012
borate borate is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kargirwar View Post

Has anyone experienced something similar ? What can I do to get rid of the fear ?
When I experienced the same my teacher's encouragement was...
"Don't worry about the depth. You will only need the top two feet of water." ^_^
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  #16  
Old 11-05-2012
kargirwar kargirwar is offline
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Initially I didn't realize there were two pages of replies! Wow you guys here are wonderful ! I never expected there would be so many thoughtful, patiently written and encouraging replies. I am glad I joined the forum !

@flychick - I think I am doing OK exhaling. I make a conscious attempt to exhale as I read somewhere that reduces the buoyancy and helps to bring legs to surface. I exhale through mouth and also keep eyes open all the time .I didn't get what you meant my "breath your color" . Could you explain ?

Looks like the problem is -
1. I am anxious about not getting enough air.
2. I am worried about getting water in mouth and not being able to breath.
3. I imagine that I will get into situation 1 and/or 2 and will not be able to swim to safety.

This may be because I never put conscious thought into breathing. It was always like - turn the head - somehow get the air in and keep going. It seems reasonable that if I practice breathing mindfully like other parts of TI then my anxiety about breathing might get reduced. OK, I will make breathing my focus for next couple of weeks and see what happens !

Last edited by kargirwar : 11-05-2012 at 04:01 PM.
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  #17  
Old 11-05-2012
kargirwar kargirwar is offline
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Wow , we are like twin souls in this :-). You wrote exactly what I go through every time I venture into the deep. And incidentally one day I too was pulled out of deep water by one friendly swimmer..

Quote:
Originally Posted by timmct View Post
Kargirwar, sorry for the long post but...been there done that. I'm an 'adult onset swimmer', somewhat older than you who had similar feelings. I had a 'traumatic experience' in the water when I was about 5-6 yrs old. During swimming lessons at the community pool, I wandered off to the edge of the 'drop off' and lost my footing. An alert life guard grabbed my arm and pulled me choking and sputtering from the water. From then on I had a subconscious fear of the 'deep end'. I could conquer it for short periods if I knew I could reach the side quickly if needed. But I could quickly become panicked inside if I felt anything was beyond my control.

Fast forward to today. I started learning TI about 5-6 months ago in a 4.5' deep pool. Not a problem. I could stop, put my feet on the bottom and 'recover' as needed. But I wanted to start using a different pool. And that pool has a deep end. So..... I had developed my skills to the 'spear switch' stage, rotating to air, etc. Not easily, but enough to move continuously for 1 length. So I decided to give it a try at the 'big pool'. Everything went well, until the drop off. I felt the same old tension and doubt, as I always did. And I stopped. Right at the ledge. I did that more times than I can ever admit. I even forced myself to make it across. And I made it. Not comfortable, I can tell you that. But I did it.

I had to stop and think: 'What is my major malfunction??' I can tread water, I can float, I can do a reasonable attempt at a back stroke/float....so what's my problem exactly?

I had to think it through for myself. I reminded myself that I was basically swimming in a small cube of water, slightly wider than my shoulders, slightly longer than me with extended arms, and not as tall/deep as me when standing...no matter how deep the pool was or what was below me. Visualize a 'continuous pool' that you see sometimes. I knew I could maintain my position or move through that cube with the skills I had right then at any time I wanted or needed to. So I tried it.

I took off on a lap and, as always, the place where I took my first breath, was over the dreaded ledge. I took my breath and pressed on, took a second breath and started feeling tense, doubtful that I could make it. So I rolled to my back and continued on gently to the end on my back, catching my breath and composure along the way. Now in the deep end, I pushed off from the edge and treaded water for a few minutes then rested at the edge again. When I felt somewhat relaxed, off I went to the shallow end. I rolled to my back if needed, or pressed on if I felt OK. Eventually, I felt better although from time to time my confidence waiverd for a second for whatever reason but now I can relax and maintain control. When I get tired I still have 'moments' when my confidence in my skills falters but I can recover now with my 'continuous pool' image.

You're not alone with this. It's a common fear. And you can and will figure it out. You may need to find an image that you can use to remind yourself of your skills and build your confidence in small stages. It won't happen in one session though.

Hope this helps!
Tim
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  #18  
Old 11-05-2012
flychick flychick is offline
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Dear Kargirwar,
I am happy to hear that you are narrowing down your field of focus - that is so important!
What do I mean by 'breathing the colour? Well, I ask the student to pick their favourite colour, or one that makes them feel relaxed and at ease. I then ask them to close their eyes and on the in breath, imagine that they are inhaling this colour. On the exhale, they imagine that they are exhaling the colour...rather like a meditation I guess!
I ask them to practise this on the pool deck (and at home) and then I have them in the water, floating on their back, supported if necessary, and we repeat the exercise until they are completely relaxed in the water.
The next step is to swim a little, perhaps using the stroke that you are currently most comfortable with, whilst continuing to visualise your colour as you breathe within the rhythm your stroke.
If things do start to fall apart, roll onto your back and focus on the colour as you breathe until you find that relaxed state once more. (You know that it is there because you've been there before!!) The idea is that the colour gives you an anchor for positive, rather than negative, associations with your aquatic breathing.
I think that I covered the not getting enough air issue before, but in this case, the counting exercise should help.
Do not worry if you get some water in your mouth. This is not uncommon when swimming front crawl - in fact it can be a sign that your head is correctly positioned when breathing! As you exhale it will dribble out of your mouth and rest assured that you will come to no harm. Even if you swallow it you will come to no harm.
I do understand that this is an issue for many people, and this is why I spend so much time on the most basic aquatic breathing exercises with my students, even those who can already swim. Your fears and worries will begin to disappear when you understand how all the pieces fit together, but IMHO each step must be learned and practised mindfully.
Let me know if you need any more clarification.
Warm regards,
Nicki

Last edited by flychick : 11-05-2012 at 04:47 PM.
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  #19  
Old 11-05-2012
Mike from NS Mike from NS is offline
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Kargirwar,

Some of what Tim said brought back to mind a couple of things that helped me gain confidence in the deep end. He started with "been there - done that". That is so true for many of us I think. It is amazing how similar the stories are. But two things that helped me and may help you as well ..... get in the water from the side ladder near the deep end wall and hang onto to it. Just float there and bob beneath the surface for a while. Once comfortable and still holding onto the ladder set a plan to let go and push yourself into a glide across the corner or directly to the end wall. Do this many times and watch your comfort level build each time. Once this is comfortable push from the wall to the ladder. These diagonal trips across the corner may be exciting as you will find a new freedom in the deep water. The second thing that eventually helped me was swimming the wall lane. I'd go as far as I felt comfortable then hang on the wall, and return to the shallow end -- to try again. Each time I did this I'd travel a bit further. Seeing the drop-off that Tim speaks of usually brought some added tension and a longer rest on the side wall. Eventually I traveled the 25M and wanted to tell the world !! Take it easy with little steps and just keep building on them. Soon enough you will be sharing your "how to" experiences with the next learning swimmer.
Mike
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  #20  
Old 11-06-2012
craig.arnold@gmail.com craig.arnold@gmail.com is offline
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Default Another possibility ...

One of the things that helps kids to get over their fear of going underwater is to actually practice it.

For example there are little sinking toys that can be let go and need to be retrieved. Lots of practice swimming down to the bottom of the pool and retrieving the items is a fun game that has the great side effect of making you much more comfortable in deeper water.

Remember the bottom is only going to be 5m deep at most - more likely only 3-4m, and that is really not very far to swim using the breaststroke. Swim down grab the item, exhale from your lungs and sit on the bottom for 5 seconds. Look around, relax, then push up to the surface.

It's actually quite fun, and you can do it for progressively deeper items. It works well to make you more comfortable at a given depth.
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