Total Immersion Forums  

Go Back   Total Immersion Forums > O2 in H20: Breathing Skills
FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 08-21-2009
Glenn Glenn is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 4
Glenn
Default One side better than the other (& intro)

Hello everyone!

My name is Glenn and I'm a swimmer from Toronto, Canada. I really enjoy reading the posts on the Total Immersion forums and I wanted to introduce myself and get some feedback.

A little history: I never really learned how to swim properly when I was a kid. It was only 10 years ago that I joined an adult learn-to-swim class. Even after that class, I was frustrated, so I decided to find some instruction. I was wandering in a Chapters bookstore when I found "Total Immersion" on the shelf. It was unlike anything I ever read about swim training and I was so engrossed that I read the whole thing in the store! (Yes, I did buy it.)

I went back to the pool and did the drills. They worked. I got better and, eventually, I could do a 25m length of the pool in 12-13 strokes. But I had too much difficulty breathing. As soon as I turned for a breath, I would lose all my balance and coordination and end up swallowing as much water as air. I got frustrated and stopped swimming.

Fast foward to 2009...

I've been a runner for a long time and I've done many races at many distances (from 5K to marathons). But I wanted a new challenge. Many of my running friends had made the jump to triathlons and tris had always intrigued me. But, like many runners, the idea of swimming 400+ metres was intimidating. Not only was the distance intimidating, but the fact that it was in open water!

However, I decided to jump back into the pool and give it another try. I knew I had to have a plan, so I decided to give myself 12 weeks before my first beginners triathlon (400m swim, 10K bike, 2.5K run). My plan was to swim at least twice a week. And I'd try to get some outdoor swim experience.

Well, things have worked out well so far. I've done two beginner triathlons (swims of 375m and 400m). My final triathlon is coming up and it's a 750m swim.

One of the breathing breakthroughs for me was to develop the ability to relax and be balanced in the water. Even though TI had improved my "buoyancy", it still felt awkward to just be there in the water. But, slowly, I developed the ability to be relaxed in the water _any time I wanted_, even when I wasn't moving. (You ever swim in a crowded public pool and someone just stops in front of you? Like they stand up? I was able to stop my stroke and just sit there, floating and balanced, waiting for them to move out of the way before continuing my stroke.)

Now I'm able to work on my breathing without fear of struggle. I might be doing a drill and become unbalanced, but I'm always able to relax and start again.

So here's my current issue: I find that breathing to my left side (right arm outstretched, body turning to left) is much easier than breathing to my right. When I breathe to my left I feel like my body is turning as one unit to the air. My outstretched right arm feels weightless. And my legs are relatively still as I take the breath.

Breathing to my right feels more unnatural. I feel like I have to lift my head. My right arm isn't as "weightless". And my legs flail a little.

(FYI, when I focus on training my technique, I don't do more than 50m repeats with plenty of yoga breaths in between.)

The first question I ask myself is: What am I doing correctly with my left side breathing that I can transfer to the right?

Then on every repeat, I try to focus on one thought. For example:
* Don't lift your head to get air, rotate your whole body
* Feel buoyant in the water; let it raise you up
* Keep your body streamlined and near the surface
* Exhale and inhale fully and don't rush

Anyway, this is just some of the stuff I've been working on. With less than two weeks left before my final triathlon of the season, I'm confident that I'll finish the 750m swim.

My goal is to finish it without struggling to re-catch my breath as I transition to my bike. In my last triathlon, I exerted way too much effort kicking and pulling. The water was crowded and people were splashing all about me. I needed to slow things down and concentrate on relaxing, breathing deeply and maintaining a smooth, steady (but not necessarily fast) stroke.

Thanks for reading this far. And thanks to Terry and the TI crew for helping me become a better swimmer. I'm looking forward to posting here. Of course, I'll let everyone know how the final triathlon turns out.

Cheers,
Glenn in Toronto
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 08-22-2009
splashingpat splashingpat is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 589
splashingpat
Default thanks tri....

your story is what they need to hear!
from an swim instructor that
is challenged by tri's!

when being a fish do Not stand up...
is this what I was suppose to get?
I have my challenges? and teaching tri's to swim, is just one of 'em!

now that's an intro!
thanks for the post!
splash'n'pat&post'n'

Last edited by splashingpat : 01-31-2010 at 04:37 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 08-22-2009
naj naj is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: San Francisco, CA
Posts: 624
naj
Default

Glenn congratulations on your improvement! TI was a revelation for me too and continues to be each day I swim. With respect to your "weak-side" breathing, I had the same problem as you; I felt anxious to get a breath, head out of the water etc. But then I remembered something Terry demonstrates in the Easy Free DVD, the nodding drill.

Essentially what it is is this; you swim along and take your breath from your natural side (in your case the left) and as you return your head to the neutral position, turn your head slightly to the right not a lot just a bit, return your head to neutral again, and repeat the sequence only this time go a little further, return to neutral again, now as your doing this notice how near the surface you are and when increasing the angle of your head turn to the right take a breath :)

This drill - lie all the others - takes time but it does work. It will help you have a smooth and relaxed, unhurried opportunity to breathe from either side to maximize your air intake.

Keep Swimming,
Naji

Last edited by terry : 08-23-2009 at 01:14 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 08-26-2009
Glenn Glenn is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 4
Glenn
Default

Thanks for the welcome!

Naj, you wrote about the "nodding drill":
Quote:
Essentially what it is is this; you swim along and take your breath from your natural side (in your case the left) and as you return your head to the neutral position, turn your head slightly to the right not a lot just a bit, return your head to neutral again, and repeat the sequence only this time go a little further, return to neutral again, now as your doing this notice how near the surface you are and when increasing the angle of your head turn to the right take a breath :)
To clarify:
1. I take a breath to my left (natural side)
2. I return my head (and my whole body) to neutral
3. I turn my _head only_ a little bit to the right, not my entire body
4. Return my head to neutral

I continue this pattern, turning my head a little further each time.

Is that correct? :-) Also, could you explain the phrase "increasing the angle of your head"? Do you mean when it rotates to the right? Or actually lifting your head back?

Thanks again,
Glenn
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 08-26-2009
Nicodemus Nicodemus is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 50
Nicodemus
Default

Hi Glenn,
I would need to check my DVDs, but I think you might have slightly misunderstood Naj's description of the nodding drill.

The way you describe it sounds like after each breath on your left (good side) as you return your face to the water you would go past the straight down position and 'nod' to your right. The problem with this is that if you breathe on alternate strokes (ie every left stroke) you will go down the pool wagging your head left and right - which I am pretty sure is not the intention.

Instead, aim to breathe mostly on your right (weak) side all the way down the pool, if this is the side you are working on. But don't breathe on alternate strokes. Breathe every 4th or 6th (ie every 2nd or 3rd on the right side). Normally on the non-breath right-side strokes you would keep your nose pointing at the bottom of the pool. But here is the "nodding" part of the exercise: on those strokes now you turn your face to the right side as if you are going to take a breath - but you don't breathe. Also don't initially turn far enough to get air on your face. Just look at the side of the pool (underwater), or the underside of the lane-divider. This exercise gets you familiar with turning your head sideways without the temptation to reach up for air - because you are not actually seeking air on this stroke. Then on the stroke when you DO breathe, try to use exactly the same action, just go slightly further and take air with a sneaky breath that is just a tad more head rotation than the nods.

If you are struggling you can take a breath or two on the left, and return to nodding & breathing on the right.

The angle Naj mentions is the sideways rotation - NEVER NEVER NEVER lift your head back! (But you knew that really didn't you!)

The purpose of the exercise is to get the breath-stroke to keep the same form as your non-breath stroke - breaking the habit of reaching up for the air.

Last edited by Nicodemus : 08-26-2009 at 06:56 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 08-26-2009
Nicodemus Nicodemus is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 50
Nicodemus
Default

Hi again,

Some more thoughts from me....

I have had a similar experience working on my weak breathing side. 2-3 weeks ago I really nailed breathing on my right side & was able to go from swimming 1-2 lengths at a time to swimming a mile non-stop. Since then I have been working on my left side breathing. It is still not as natural as my right side, but I swam 1 mile this weekend alternating left-side & right-side lengths - so it is improving.

I did a similar thing to you: trying to analyse the differences between what was good on my right side, and different on my left side. I realised that on the right I seemed to just naturally come to where the air is; but on the left the air always seemed about 1-2 inches further from my face. Very frustrating.

One of the things I noticed was my left kick was weaker. When I sorted this out, my stroke got stronger on that side, which gave me a more positive rotation, spear & glide. I think all of these aspects contribute - so the breathing issue could actually be a symptom of an apparently unrelated weakness in some other aspect of your stroke.

I spent a LOT of time doing Fish, Skate, Superman drills, rotating to my left, watching the the lane-divider, then rotating to sweet-spot. In all of these things I kept finding the air seemed further away on the left than the right. Then I noticed my hips were sinking slightly when I turned sideways to my left, but not to my right. It was like my core muscles collapsed slightly and my 'torpedo' body-line got bent in the middle.

So then I started working on pressing my buoy. Eventually I noticed I was cocking my head slightly when breathing/rotating to my left. It's a bit hard to describe but the effect is that your chin and/or ear move towards your (breath-side) shoulder. It was only about 1-2 inches, but it was enough to affect my whole body. Focusing on that, I seem to glide higher and flatter now when I breathe left - and the air is right there!

The feeling is the exact opposite of the common advice to look slightly behind as you breathe. Instead I imagine gently pressing the back of my head onto a pillow on the shoulder of my spearing arm. This means my mouth comes to air, not my forehead or eyes. I think before I was leading with my eyes/forehead - which are not what you breathe with!

I had to do a lot of experimenting to find this. And we are all different. So just keep trying thing out. Also you can learn a lot by deliberately doing things 'wrong' - you get to feel what is happening in your own body.

The irony is that the more you 'reach' for the air with your head, the further away it gets because you mess up your whole position in the water. So you have to identify the sub-conscious reaching that you are still doing. Then systematically eliminate it, and eventually the air will come to you.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 08-28-2009
Mike from NS Mike from NS is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 551
Mike from NS
Default

Is there any correlation to a person's "handedness" and their side for easier breathing? I am strongly right handed and breathing to my left side with right arm outstretched is easily achieved. Breathing to the right is really difficult for me. I'm sure my difficulty comes from a poor position, extent of roll etc. Keeping the left arm out stretched (and patient) for a glide while grabbing air from the right takes more focus than taking air from the left side does.

Any comments?
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 08-28-2009
CoachEricDeSanto CoachEricDeSanto is offline
TI Coach
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 384
CoachEricDeSanto
Default

Glenn,
Just a couple details to add to what others have said. I really like the suggestions to analyze your good side and find differences on you bad side. Here at TI, we tend to believe that the most important things happen at the core. So I would start with your torso and work out towards your limbs. Perhaps the following list of things to investigate:
1. do your hips and shoulders rotate the same on both sides. (Note, if you got your book from a book store you probably have the blue and yellow book which really emphasizes stacking the shoulders. Remember that we have backed off that to a flatter stroke now. One of the problems with stacking the shoulders it that it puts the face deeper in the water.
2. Are your hips at the same level of balance on both sides.
3. Does your head turn at the same point in the stroke on both sides. It is very common to breathe later on the bad side.
4. Do you lift your head on the off side more.
5. Now move out to the limbs and look for differences.

We find that often, we feel differences in the limbs, but they are caused by differences in the core movement. Just like runners often find that knee, hip and back injuries are caused by problems in the foot. It is easier to feel changes in the limbs, but we want to correct them at the source.

One last hint, I really like doing small repeats for this. I swim just enough strokes to do one breath on each side (for me that is 5) then roll to sweet spot to analyze what I did, then I roll back and continue. I find the improvement happens much faster if I don't force myself to do too many.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 08-28-2009
Mike from NS Mike from NS is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 551
Mike from NS
Default Thanks Pat!

Quote:
Originally Posted by splashingpat View Post
......some things never change, but if it's does....let us know about em!
What has changed greatly in the past week or two is my comfort level. And what has brought this about has been following Nicodemus's "bobbing" and "taking things slowly" .. suggestions. (These suggestions have been made before - but this time they really clicked for me!) I have become more used to the environment through bobbing while stretched out on my back so to submerge my head (nose up) as deeply as I can while fluttering down the lane. It probably looks strange but the relaxed and comfortable feelings gained through this are remarkable. It has helped me to feel when to bubble out and when to inhale. My breath control has increased through slowly bubbling out. It has helped to learn how to trust the water for support as well. Practising Nod & Swim has done great things too. I can get a breath to each side but after that or sometimes one more to the left I fall apart and go to sweet spot to regain composure. (Not exhaling enough maybe...) It is the breath to the right that usually kills my sequence. Anyway things are changing!

Sure, I can see what I have to do to fix things but that takes practise and then more practise to ingrain the correct movements and remove the ones that don't work.

I was just curious as to people's thoughts of what part "handedness" might play in the ease to breathe to one side or the other. I have to focus and practise to overcome any effect handedness may have.

The sad aspect of today is that the outdoor pool is now closed for the year - the lifeguards go back to university next week. What a great bunch of kids they had this year at the pool! -- and the salt water is down to 15C (~60F). Bill brought no warm water last Sunday, as hurricanes usually do. Maybe the predicted tropical storm (Danny) for the weekend will bring some warm water this time.

I'm not video quality yet Pat. Must protect what pride I may have left for now!
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 08-29-2009
CoachEricDeSanto CoachEricDeSanto is offline
TI Coach
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 384
CoachEricDeSanto
Default

I have not seen any connection to handedness and preferred breathing side.
Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are Off
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT. The time now is 07:30 PM.


Powered by vBulletin®
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.