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  #1  
Old 08-22-2012
tony0000 tony0000 is offline
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tony0000
Default Tempo for Bilateral Breathing?

When I swim the standard front crawl, I have no trouble breathing bilaterally. When I swim TI, my stroke temp is slower. Stroke/1.25s feels about the best for me. Thus, when I swim bilaterally, I am breathing only once every 3.75s. I find this creates an oxygen deficit that catches up with me after 50m or 100m. Is this typical, or should I be able to breathe bilaterally at 1.25, perhaps through greater relaxation of my arms and legs? My other option, I guess, would be to increase my stroke rate, but that seems to defeat the point of TI.

Thanks,

Tony

Last edited by tony0000 : 08-22-2012 at 11:29 PM.
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  #2  
Old 08-22-2012
westyswoods westyswoods is offline
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Default Bi lateral

Not an uncommon result of bilateral breathing. You may want to try different patterns, two right/two left or two-one-two. Combinations are quite variable while maintaining bilateral breathing.

Swim Silent and Be Well
Westy
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  #3  
Old 08-22-2012
CoachDavidShen CoachDavidShen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tony0000 View Post
When I swim the standard front crawl, I have no trouble breathing bilaterally. When I swim TI, my stroke temp is slower. Stroke/1.25s feels about the best for me. Thus, when I swim bilaterally, I am breathing only once every 3.75s. I find this creates an oxygen deficit that catches up with me after 50m or 100m. Is this typical, or should I be able to breathe bilaterally at 1.25, perhaps through greater relaxation of my arms and legs? My other option, I guess, would be to increase my stroke rate, but that seems to defeat the point of TI.

Thanks,

Tony
My question to you would be, why would swimming TI mean a slower tempo? And why do you feel you are not swimming TI if you increase your tempo?

Today when we train, we use the TT to challenge our nervous system to maintain form at faster and faster tempos. The nervous system is usually our first focus, and our energy system (aerobic, anaerobic, strength) second because our form tends to fall apart when we attempt a tempo that is beyond the point that our body is capable of maintaining proper form.

To attain your bilateral breathing at a faster than 1.2s tempo, you should practice and continually challenge your nervous system by swimming a lot at that tempo and also faster tempos for shorter distances while varying the rest interval. Varying the tempo by as little as .01s can mean the difference between maintaining bilateral breathing or not. Gradually increase the distances you swim at a faster tempo to imprint adaptation over time and distance. Do not let form waver no matter what.

Also you should figure out how to relax enough such that you don't use up so much oxygen that you need to take a breath more than once every 3 strokes. But as you train this, you are also increasing your body's energy system capacity to maintain work at higher tempos as well....
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  #4  
Old 08-23-2012
tony0000 tony0000 is offline
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Originally Posted by CoachDavidShen View Post
My question to you would be, why would swimming TI mean a slower tempo? And why do you feel you are not swimming TI if you increase your tempo?

Today when we train, we use the TT to challenge our nervous system to maintain form at faster and faster tempos. The nervous system is usually our first focus, and our energy system (aerobic, anaerobic, strength) second because our form tends to fall apart when we attempt a tempo that is beyond the point that our body is capable of maintaining proper form.

To attain your bilateral breathing at a faster than 1.2s tempo, you should practice and continually challenge your nervous system by swimming a lot at that tempo and also faster tempos for shorter distances while varying the rest interval. Varying the tempo by as little as .01s can mean the difference between maintaining bilateral breathing or not. Gradually increase the distances you swim at a faster tempo to imprint adaptation over time and distance. Do not let form waver no matter what.

Also you should figure out how to relax enough such that you don't use up so much oxygen that you need to take a breath more than once every 3 strokes. But as you train this, you are also increasing your body's energy system capacity to maintain work at higher tempos as well....
Thanks for your response. Am I correct that you recommend working toward a faster tempo so that when I breathe bilaterally, my breaths are not so far apart? I have to admit that I had assumed that using TI entailed a relatively low stroke tempo. This assumption was based on watching such videos as the iconic Shinji video (Stroke/2.3s). It was also based on the idea that the potential advantage from low drag achieved by TI is only realized through a glide phase during arm recovery; a high tempo reduces the distinctive glide phase of TI. Am I mistaken? Does it make sense to be swimming TI at, say, stroke/1sec? Is this what more advanced TI swimmers do? (Are there any videos I can watch?) Or do they generally manage to breathe bilaterally at a slower tempo? Another way of asking this is: About what is the stroke tempo (or tempo range) for a good TI swimmer swimming a long distance breathing bilaterally?
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  #5  
Old 08-23-2012
CoachDavidShen CoachDavidShen is offline
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Originally Posted by tony0000 View Post
Thanks for your response. Am I correct that you recommend working toward a faster tempo so that when I breathe bilaterally, my breaths are not so far apart?
I am not recommending you swim at faster tempo specifically for that result. Swimming at faster tempos while maintaining form and efficiency is a goal you should be challenging yourself with while trying to improve swimming. You may find that faster tempos may increase your metabolic requirements and then make you need to breathe more than every 3rd stroke. But as fitness, skill, nervous system adaptation and ability to relax increases, i think you will find that you may be able to maintain a breath every 3rd stroke given time.

As an example, I generally swim breathing every 4th stroke and try to maintain that at tempos less than 1 sec. It is an interesting combination of factors that enable to maintain that over long distances - Often I can maintain it for many lengths, and then I have to sneak an extra breath or two in there before going back to every 4. But it is a challenge to my swimming to be able to do that and so I practice it.

The reason I do it is because I can maintain better form that way as breathing interrupts my form and efficiency. HOWEVER, having said that, I sometimes practice maintaining efficiency while breathing more (ie. every 2nd stroke) - i have not mastered similar efficiency between the two yet, but this is yet another challenge in swimming improvement. This is something that Terry has advocated in the past because often in OW races, we do our best to remain calm but it is hard when there are other people out there thrashing in the water and then there are waves sloshing you around too. To be calm enough out there and breathe every 4th stroke is tough!

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Originally Posted by tony0000 View Post
I have to admit that I had assumed that using TI entailed a relatively low stroke tempo. This assumption was based on watching such videos as the iconic Shinji video (Stroke/2.3s).
We demonstrate our skill at maintaining balance and streamline by training at really slow tempos. Someone in the forums once asked Shinji what his tempo was in one of his videos and he said 1.6s - not sure what the 2.3s video but I doubt it was really that - if you have ever tried to swim at even 2s tempo, you would agree that it is really hard.

But no TI is not exclusively all about swimming at slow tempos. Just because a lot of us train at slow tempos for a particular purpose in fine tuning our stroke doesn't mean that TI is about slow tempos at all. Certainly slow tempos may be experienced by those with less fitness, or those whose goals are not to be the next OW or masters champion.

Slow tempo swimming REALLY challenges your balance, focus, and control. Messy habits that are hidden in faster tempo situations are accentuated in slow tempo situations. So take some workouts and swim REALLY SLOW and you'll see what I mean.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tony0000 View Post
It was also based on the idea that the potential advantage from low drag achieved by TI is only realized through a glide phase during arm recovery; a high tempo reduces the distinctive glide phase of TI. Am I mistaken?
There is always a glide phase in swimming. This is when your stroking arm has finished its stroke and has exitted the water and recovering forward.

Low drag is not only during the glide phase - we train to minimize drag through the entire stroke not just in one phase. This is our balance (to stop discomfort and butt dragging) and streamline (create a sleek, straight vessel that doesn't fishtail around) training.

A high tempo will reduce the total time you stay in the glide/recovery phase. But your goal is to see how much acceleration you can achieve before this phase, such that your velocity during this phase is maximal at any tempo - and then drag reduction means you decelerate less while you recover.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tony0000 View Post
Does it make sense to be swimming TI at, say, stroke/1sec?
Of course - once adaptation occurs at any tempo, you will find that you can still execute the complete form elements of swimming - everything just moves faster. This is why we practice gradually increasing our tempo, backing off, then reapproaching our target tempos with varying increments as well as rest intervals and lengths to slowly allow our bodies and nervous system to adapt.

For example, even at fast tempos, you will perceive a moment in time when you are gliding during arm recovery. Time can slow in your perception when you have adapted to a fast tempo - I often can feel that I am executing each part of the TI stroke completely and feel like I have all the time in the world to complete them, even at <1.0s. I think if you practice this, you will experience these moments where <1.0s feel very relaxed in your body and brain but to an outside observer, they are seeing you move REALLY fast.


Quote:
Originally Posted by tony0000 View Post
Is this what more advanced TI swimmers do? (Are there any videos I can watch?)
I think the model swimmer for us is Sun Yang. Check him out here in this Youtube video. He must be swimming at <.7s tempo (most Olympians are there) but his stroke efficiency is unreal. Read Terry's blog post about Sun Yang here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tony0000 View Post
Or do they generally manage to breathe bilaterally at a slower tempo? Another way of asking this is: About what is the stroke tempo (or tempo range) for a good TI swimmer swimming a long distance breathing bilaterally?
I have never met someone who said you had to breathe every stroke or bilateral for every 3rd, or like me who breathes every 4th. Everybody is different and their fitness and skill levels are different. Even the swim length can dictate breathing pattern - for a 100m sprint, maybe you'd want to breathe every 2nd stroke. for a 50m sprint, maybe you should try not breathing at all! If you look carefully at Sun Yang's video, you'll see in his turn at the wall, he breathes every stroke for 3 strokes as he comes off the wall to get more air in. Imagine the control it takes to breathe one side and then the other side, and then back for another breath! Amazing!!

As for what tempo you should target - people ask that all the time. I do not think you can say there is a tempo target for anyone. Everybody is different; different skill, different fitness levels, different goals. I used to think cruising was at 1.3s. But over time, I began working at faster tempos because I wanted to improve my skill at maintaining efficiency at those tempos. Now I feel 1.2s is too slow and cruising happens at 1.15s. Things change all the time as you train and improve. So cruising for me may not be cruising for you. Suffice to say, find the tempo that you can maintain for a mile or so, that you can maintain consistent, perfect form the whole time, and that is your current cruise tempo. Test for it by getting a TT and swimming long distances at various tempos and seeing what the result is.

It is my belief that you are only as good as what you train for and if you want to breathe bilaterally for a 2.4 mile ironman swim, I am sure you could train to make that happen at any tempo you train for.
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  #6  
Old 08-23-2012
tony0000 tony0000 is offline
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Thanks for your extensive and thoughtful reply. I had thought of myself as "good" swimmer I wanted to know how other "good" (or somewhat "better") swimmers breath and stroke. I now grasp your point that this question makes little sense because there is such a range of abilities, body types and fitness levels. (If you're sustaining <1/sec and breathing every 4 strokes (and I assume a reasonably low SPL), my hat off to you! I'd love to see the video.) I had fallen into the all too common mistake of assuming that I'm average or somewhat above average. Based on your advice, I'll simply try to keep pushing myself to achieve the stroke rate and breathing style I've set as a goal.

I also appreciate the link to the Sun Yang video. Excellent commentary. (The video, however, is not an example of a fast TI stroke since Sun Yang does not employ the patient hand/glide element that I consider essential to TI. Again, I encourage you to post an underwater video since visual modelling can be both inspirational and a highly effective means of learning.)

Finally, sorry about getting Shinji's tempo wrong. Math error plus lack of reality check!
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  #7  
Old 08-23-2012
CoachDavidShen CoachDavidShen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tony0000 View Post
Thanks for your extensive and thoughtful reply. I had thought of myself as "good" swimmer I wanted to know how other "good" (or somewhat "better") swimmers breath and stroke. I now grasp your point that this question makes little sense because there is such a range of abilities, body types and fitness levels. (If you're sustaining <1/sec and breathing every 4 strokes (and I assume a reasonably low SPL), my hat off to you! I'd love to see the video.)
What is reasonably low SPL? Lots of factors determine SPL. I am 5'7" so my SPL is naturally higher than others who are taller. As for data points, I am currently swimming about 16-19 SPL for 25y at about 1s tempo depending on the day. Is that good or bad? It's actually where I ended up and stopped stressing about SPL for a while because I needed to work on my left spear body driven propulsion aspects - Still, someday after I get to some level of improvement with my left side spear body propulsion, I'll go back to stressing about SPL again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tony0000 View Post
I had fallen into the all too common mistake of assuming that I'm average or somewhat above average. Based on your advice, I'll simply try to keep pushing myself to achieve the stroke rate and breathing style I've set as a goal.

I also appreciate the link to the Sun Yang video. Excellent commentary. (The video, however, is not an example of a fast TI stroke since Sun Yang does not employ the patient hand/glide element that I consider essential to TI. Again, I encourage you to post an underwater video since visual modelling can be both inspirational and a highly effective means of learning.)
I think we disagree on Sun Yang's video. Despite high tempo, he still exhibits a patient lead hand. Given the high tempo, such things are VERY hard to see - and freeze framing or frame by frame viewing on a web streamed Youtube video is hard to do.

In this video, you can see Coach Dave Cameron's stroke - at a slower tempo, you can see his patient lead hand very clearly.

Here are two other Shinji videos:

How To Swim Freestyle by Shinji Takeuchi - Acceleration

How To Swim Freestyle by Shinji Takeuchi - Recovery
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  #8  
Old 08-23-2012
dzhou01 dzhou01 is offline
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Tony,

Exertion level can be different at the same tempo. If you stretch harder or pull harder, you need more air. So try this: say at 1.25s, try to use effort as minimum as possible. After 100m, do you still feel out of breath?

DZ

Last edited by dzhou01 : 08-23-2012 at 06:40 PM.
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  #9  
Old 08-24-2012
tony0000 tony0000 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachDavidShen View Post
What is reasonably low SPL? Lots of factors determine SPL. I am 5'7" so my SPL is naturally higher than others who are taller. As for data points, I am currently swimming about 16-19 SPL for 25y at about 1s tempo depending on the day. Is that good or bad? It's actually where I ended up and stopped stressing about SPL for a while because I needed to work on my left spear body driven propulsion aspects - Still, someday after I get to some level of improvement with my left side spear body propulsion, I'll go back to stressing about SPL again.
Yes, you're right that height and other factors are relevant to SPL, and therefore SPL is an swimmer-relative as tempo and speed. I guess this is what is in the back of my mind: If one's SPL rises to about the SPL would one get swimming a standard crawl, and if one's tempo rises to about what one would swim when doing a standard crawl, and if the tempo is high enough so that amount of time the lead hand extends in the water after the recovery hand has exited the water (at the thigh) is negligible, isn't one swimming pretty close to doing a standard crawl? My questions in this thread have been implicitly based on the fact that I do not believe I am in shape to swim a standard crawl for a long (mile or two) distance. And I'm at an age where gains in stamina and strength do not come easily. So I've looked to TI to find a more suitable and sustainable speed/distance/energy trade-off for me (which hopefully will allow me to breath bilaterally since I like doing that). But I certainly applaud your efforts to improve along multiple dimensions simultaneously, rather than just finding your personal sweet spot.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachDavidShen View Post
I think we disagree on Sun Yang's video. Despite high tempo, he still exhibits a patient lead hand. Given the high tempo, such things are VERY hard to see - and freeze framing or frame by frame viewing on a web streamed Youtube video is hard to do.

In this video, you can see Coach Dave Cameron's stroke - at a slower tempo, you can see his patient lead hand very clearly.

Here are two other Shinji videos:

How To Swim Freestyle by Shinji Takeuchi - Acceleration

How To Swim Freestyle by Shinji Takeuchi - Recovery
I believe a frame-by-frame analysis of Sun Yang's stroke was done on the Swim Smooth site a while back (and discussed in this forum) that showed that his lead hand rested no more than a few 100th of a second. He certainly was not waiting until his recovery hand entered the water.
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  #10  
Old 08-24-2012
tony0000 tony0000 is offline
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DZ,

Your's is a good question. I often wonder why, if my balance is good and I'm not worried about SPL, I need expend any significant every or use much oxygen. I'll have to get back to you on this in the future. Right now I'm getting over a cold :(

Tony
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