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  #1  
Old 06-27-2015
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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Default Breathing Patterns for Open Water

I've been training mostly open water in preparation for a 10-mile swim next month, and have been experimenting with breathing patterns to help with pacing. My more comfortable breathing side is to the right, but I can breathe pretty well to either side.

So, here's what's been working for me:

1) breathe every 2nd stroke to the right for 8 strokes (4 breaths), then switch sides to breathe to the left for 8 strokes (4 breaths). For the transition from side to side, I breathe once to each side (2 breaths in a row). This pattern seems to work well, encourages a longer stroke and slower tempo. Very sustainable.

2) breathe every 2nd stroke for 6 strokes (3 breaths), then switch sides by taking three strokes before breathing to the other side. Repeat. Seems to give a slightly faster tempo.

3) Alternate breathing every 3rd stroke and then every second stroke (so you end up taking two breaths to one side, then two breaths to the other). This gives me the fastest tempo of the patterns, and more symmetry and (perhaps) less rotation--which is good in my case, I think.

I've mostly been switching up between pattern #1 and pattern #3. Today I did about 2.5 miles--the second half I did much more of pattern #3, and got a negative split by over two minutes. So it seems like pattern #3 is faster for me. I'll probably alternate the two on race day, with a "race" pattern followed by periods of a "rest" pattern.

Anyone here done similar experiments with open water breathing patterns? Any ideas for me to try out?

Thanks!
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  #2  
Old 06-28-2015
Mariedut Mariedut is offline
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Default Breathing

After a DNF halfway in a 10 km swim due to hypothermia in the 11 degree water, I tried to work out why it happened because I was not feeling the cold and was actually enjoying the swim a lot when I suddenly was dead tired and just wanted to turn on my back and drift for a while. (Not thinking straight any more?)

One of the causes might be not breathing enough and getting enough oxygen. I breath occasionally to the left (on every 3) and then to the right on every 4 strokes- more frequently the latter pattern. I take about 56 strokes per minute so have a long slow stroke.

Another mistake I made was to speed up my stroke rate thinking I could increase my metabolism and stay warm in the extreme cold conditions. This apparently might alsohave been a mistake
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  #3  
Old 06-30-2015
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mariedut View Post
After a DNF halfway in a 10 km swim due to hypothermia in the 11 degree water, I tried to work out why it happened because I was not feeling the cold and was actually enjoying the swim a lot when I suddenly was dead tired and just wanted to turn on my back and drift for a while. (Not thinking straight any more?)

One of the causes might be not breathing enough and getting enough oxygen. I breath occasionally to the left (on every 3) and then to the right on every 4 strokes- more frequently the latter pattern. I take about 56 strokes per minute so have a long slow stroke.

Another mistake I made was to speed up my stroke rate thinking I could increase my metabolism and stay warm in the extreme cold conditions. This apparently might alsohave been a mistake
Thanks for the reply--nice to hear from someone who has done some distance swims in open water. My stroke rate is probably a touch slower than yours--maybe low 50s per minute.

The water is forecast to be in the low 70s F so I'm hoping cold won't be a big problem for me. We'll see in a few weeks, I guess!
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  #4  
Old 06-30-2015
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CoachStuartMcDougal CoachStuartMcDougal is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mariedut View Post
After a DNF halfway in a 10 km swim due to hypothermia in the 11 degree water, I tried to work out why it happened because I was not feeling the cold and was actually enjoying the swim a lot when I suddenly was dead tired and just wanted to turn on my back and drift for a while. (Not thinking straight any more?)

One of the causes might be not breathing enough and getting enough oxygen. I breath occasionally to the left (on every 3) and then to the right on every 4 strokes- more frequently the latter pattern. I take about 56 strokes per minute so have a long slow stroke.

Another mistake I made was to speed up my stroke rate thinking I could increase my metabolism and stay warm in the extreme cold conditions. This apparently might also have been a mistake
Hi Mariedut,

That was a life saving move you made getting out when suddenly fatigued set in, although you felt very good up until that point. We are really unaware of when we go hypothermic. There was a young swimmer (36 yo) crossing EC a couple of years ago, 14 hours in the water and just a mile from the French shoreline. Which really means another 4-5 miles with lateral ebb. She rolled on to her back to recover for a few minutes, then rolled back face down and collapsed. They could not revive her. The Med Examiner reported respiratory failure due to exposure (hypothermia).

A couple of years ago, swimming a 10k in SF Bay, they pulled a swimmer out just after an hour (he was wearing a wetsuit). I heard he was swimming in circles. Support crew asked him what he was sighting on, he wasn't sure but noted the Golden Gate Bridge - which was in the opposite direction our destination. Oakland Bay Bridge was the finish. He felt fine and didn't want to get out. His body temp 94 degs, hypothermic.

In any case, very good move getting out when sensing sudden change, especially in 11 deg (52f) water.

Stuart
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  #5  
Old 01-31-2018
CoachBillGreentree CoachBillGreentree is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mariedut View Post
After a DNF halfway in a 10 km swim due to hypothermia in the 11 degree water, I tried to work out why it happened because I was not feeling the cold and was actually enjoying the swim a lot when I suddenly was dead tired and just wanted to turn on my back and drift for a while. (Not thinking straight any more?)

One of the causes might be not breathing enough and getting enough oxygen. I breath occasionally to the left (on every 3) and then to the right on every 4 strokes- more frequently the latter pattern. I take about 56 strokes per minute so have a long slow stroke.

Another mistake I made was to speed up my stroke rate thinking I could increase my metabolism and stay warm in the extreme cold conditions. This apparently might alsohave been a mistake

11C water is cold (That's 51 in the USA, Belize and Palau). So the Neoprene Sandwich swim cap might be something to consider doing for such swims if you haven't done so a already:

1. Put a latex (or silicone) swim cap on pulling the front down as far on your forehead as possible. Minimize exposed flesh to the cold water.

2. Put a neoprene cap on over that. Again pull it down as far on your forehead as you can.

3. Put your race cap (or another latex cap), on over the neoprene cap. Again pull it down over your forehead as much as you can.

This makes a huge difference in how your body reacts to the cold. Your body will not have to expend so much energy protecting your head and can use more of that energy keep your toes and fingers warmer.

My last cold water swim was in Lake Coeur d'Alene at the Ironman 70.3. Water temps were about 55 F/13 C. I had a great swim for me and when I pulled my cap off ... my hair was dry. Yes really. Yes it was cold. And yes the water takes your breath away at first and yes my fingers were cold pulling the wet suit off. But it was worse for others.

BTW, that neoprene cap sandwich technique came to me via Emilio DeSoto, founder and owner of DeSoto Sport. I'm just not that clever.

Other than that I don't do much different in cold water (well besides ensuring the wetsuit fits properly). Same breathing rate, same everything. I tend to breathe more to my right than left if I'm not focusing, so I just let myself do that during races barring reasons to breathe other way (Sun in your eyes, breaking waves etc).

Aloha.

Last edited by CoachBillGreentree : 01-31-2018 at 07:13 PM.
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  #6  
Old 01-31-2018
WFEGb WFEGb is offline
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Hello,

just a remark. In a conversation Terry once told me, in cold water (he swam 20' in 7°C water....) earplugs (and doubled swim caps as Bill wrote) are very important and helpful...

Best regards,
Werner
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  #7  
Old 02-09-2018
thaddeus.ward@gmail.com
 
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I am not (yet) and open water swimmer but am constantly experimenting with breathing rhythms. I have found it a great way to remain conscious of my whole stroke. I, however, have never been aware of any impact on my cadence. That will be something new to pay attention too.
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  #8  
Old 06-30-2015
s.sciame s.sciame is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Pamperin View Post

Today I did about 2.5 miles--the second half I did much more of pattern #3, and got a negative split by over two minutes. So it seems like pattern #3 is faster for me. I'll probably alternate the two on race day, with a "race" pattern followed by periods of a "rest" pattern.

Anyone here done similar experiments with open water breathing patterns? Any ideas for me to try out?

Thanks!
Hi Tom! Those 2.5 miles were in open water? Are you sure that the negative split was a matter of breathing and not better navigation/trajectory? If so, that's great! #3 seems a good compromise between symmetry and getting enough air. However, personally I'm not very comfortable with this pattern because the breathing rhythm changes too often for me.
Recently in the pool I'm doing fine with breathing every 2 strokes (switching side every 25m) except right after the pushoff, where I breathe every 4 to imprint good rhythm and form for the rest of the length. In open water this pattern could be translated into breathing every 2 strokes for a while (say 10 strokes) then doing 4 or 5 strokes to maintain good rhythm and form and again breathe every 2 for other 10 strokes. Does it make sense?

Salvo
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  #9  
Old 07-02-2015
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by s.sciame View Post
Hi Tom! Those 2.5 miles were in open water? Are you sure that the negative split was a matter of breathing and not better navigation/trajectory? If so, that's great! #3 seems a good compromise between symmetry and getting enough air.
Salvo,

I think the breathing was the major factor--it's a straight line out-and-back course I swim, right near shore, so navigation is simple enough. The #3 pattern does give me a faster tempo, so I suppose that's it, mainly.

Tom
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  #10  
Old 07-05-2015
Talvi Talvi is offline
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Tom

Playing with alternate patterns of breathing like you describe is something I've never tried. Your "broken" patterns sound really interesting, but I'm struggling to understand your #3 pattern. Would you explain again?

Dumb question but was there any wind the day of your swim?


p.s
re hyperthermi, that's my deal breaker for OW. I'm a "nonresponder". Today in 18', and after just 400m, my temp was down below 34'. The problem is that I feel fine when this is happening, no shivering on exit, just a sometimes quite subtle loss of co-ordination. Really irritating, espeially today as I found I can now swm comfortably in 6 m/sec winds and that it's really fun!
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