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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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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
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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  #5  
Old 06-30-2015
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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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  #6  
Old 07-02-2015
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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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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  #7  
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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A psychological disorder is: "Any personal construction which is used repeatedly in spite of consistent invalidation."
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  #8  
Old 07-10-2015
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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Originally Posted by Talvi View Post
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?
Sure--this is still my favorite pattern now, nice faster tempo but enough air for my pace. (Hard to describe in words--so simple to do!)

I start from a streamline push, and pull first with my left arm without breathing. On my next stroke (right arm pull), I'll take my first breath (right side). Then I'll take 3 strokes (left, right, left) and breathe to the left on that third stroke. Then I'll take two more strokes (right, left) and breathe to the left on that second stroke. Then three more strokes (right, left, right) and breathe to the right on that third stroke.

In short, I do one stroke cycle of breathing every two strokes, and then one stroke cycle of breathing every three strokes--which automatically changes my breathing side. It works out to five strokes for every two breaths (those breaths are on the same side), then five strokes for the next two breaths (breathing to the opposite side).

I find sticking to this breathing pattern, I can get a pretty good estimate of my open water pace during pool sessions. It works out to about 16 SPL, and a 7:58 for 500m at race pace right now (maybe 27-28 minutes per mile in open water, I'm guessing. I think I may be able to sustain that for my 10 miler--we'll see in a couple of weeks!)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Talvi View Post
Dumb question but was there any wind the day of your swim?
Not that day--early morning, flat water.
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  #9  
Old 07-10-2015
Talvi Talvi is offline
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Thanks Tom. Perfectly explained

All the best for your 10 miler!
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A psychological disorder is: "Any personal construction which is used repeatedly in spite of consistent invalidation."
~ George Kelly

"The water is your friend.....you don't have to fight with water, just share the same spirit as the water, and it will help you move."
~ Aleksandr Popov
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  #10  
Old 08-01-2015
POLIDORI POLIDORI is offline
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One does not really know when novelties are gonna come to his life.
I read this post some days ago, but left it to have a second read later, as I thought I did not pay enough attention to catch up with all the information/new ideas given in it.

Then on Wednesday I went for a swim.
I usually swim in the sea, and because of the waves, I have to breath to my left for all the first part of my swim, then to my right all the way back.
This could be very well 750 m or 1.5 km each side (I have the possibility of coming ashore at those two distances, although lately I just rest floating faceup for a little while).

By doing so, I usually get up a little tight in my back and/or in my right shoulder, because or repetion of this same movement for so long. When this happens, I just change styles and swim breakstroke for a while.

I was so used to do this that I even do it while in the pool. All left... all right... and always breathing every two strokes. I was so sure I could not change that path...

Then on Wednesday I just began thinking about this post and realize that the sea was so calm that it was possible to breath to either side in any position, as there were almost no waves.

So I began experimenting and found out that breathing to either side whenever I needed was really a great experience. I just breath every three strokes, then every two, then every four and then in every try just to change and begin again. It gave me the possibility of enlarging strokes, align myself much better when not breathing for three, four or five strokes.
Also it was a good day to try that, as it was the first day of the season when I noticed an increased number of jelly fish, which I do not like anything to do with, although I know that I will hardly get rid of them for the whole summer and most likely I will have to use my anti-sting cream at least a couple of times, to say the less...

Thank very much for opening my mind...
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