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Old 02-03-2015
Arthur Arthur is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2015
Posts: 2
Default Can't roll to breath

Just a bit about myself. I'm 56 and just stated taking swimming lessons. I was almost drown as a child and have never been able to get in deep water. But I love the water. I've been taking private swim lessons for 3 weeks now(1 hour a week). I can tread water for about 1 minute now and can go about 1/3rd of the way down the pool. I keep getting told to roll to one side to get a breath but just can't get there. Ether I can't roll or I sink like a rock. My coach has tried everything but can't come up with anything that works for me. Anyone else had this problem? If so what did you do that helped overcome this issue Sorry for the long post.
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Old 02-04-2015
CoachStuartMcDougal's Avatar
CoachStuartMcDougal CoachStuartMcDougal is offline
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 1,353

Hi Arthur,

Your story and experience is very common. Sadly I suspect you will not progress much with traditional lessons since they probably teach you to kick and pull for both stability and to breathe. This will prove to be frustrating for all new and novice swimmers. In order to breathe easy, building a solid platform is priority.

Your best start is with the recent release of TI's Ultra Efficient Freestyle Bundle. This will set you down the best path to continuous improvement. See the TI Store: Ultra Efficient Freestyle Bundle

Enjoy your journey!

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Old 02-04-2015
Arthur Arthur is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2015
Posts: 2

Thanks I'll look into it.
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Old 02-13-2015
novaswimmer novaswimmer is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 228

Are you able to float on your back with some light flutter kicking, arms at side and be able to breathe and not panic?

If not, perhaps you just need some time to get over the panic issue -- fear. This comes with slow practice in shallow water....probably 2 to 3 times a week if you can.

I know TI doesn't really start with the back float, but they do teach 'sweet spot' (a variant), however that's even scarier than back float for the fearful swimmer.

The fearful swimmer often needs a different, more sensitive approach, IMO.

Another issue may be your body density is higher than others, but that's mere speculation. Some say 'just roll to side and grab air' but for us more dense individuals, that puts you still an inch under the water surface!

But I think it all comes down to proper balance and feeling more relaxed in the water. TI drills can really help with that, but it WILL TAKE TIME, so don't get discouraged.

Last edited by novaswimmer : 02-13-2015 at 01:01 AM.
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Old 02-15-2015
sclim sclim is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 1,499

@Arthur: I'm going to be 67 in 2 weeks. In mid 2012 I retired and decided I would learn to swim properly and would compete in triathlon. I was a really bad swimmer. I discovered TI and things really started to improve. It turns out that I truly am a real sinker -- I can lie on the bottom of the pool, so the breathing problem is technically a huge challenge for me because I swim so low, actually below the surface of the water, so it's a long way to the air. Nevertheless, the key for me was the very first step in Total Immersion -- to learn to trust the water and lie face down in the shallow pool until that trust develops that the water will support you. My advice is to leave the breathing part until the very end -- it will not happen until you trust the water, which again will not happen till you progress through all the drills, developing, then challenging that trust. If you actually sign on to the TI method, which is my advice, (as is the advice of the other commenters, not surprisingly, I guess) the approach won't address the breathing until the trust and sense of balance in the water has been fully addressed, which takes time.

Despite my high body density, which provides a huge challenge to teaching me to swim by any method you could choose, the TI method has been the key, and in retrospect I can't imagine any other method being able to teach me to overcome my innate distrust of the water and concentrate on balance, smoothness and economy, which is where I am right now. Breathing is merely a subset, a specific problem in the context of the latter elements, which are the keys to TI, and really, as I see it now, to any rational approach to swimming for humans.

Just coincidentally, I just watched a very illuminating video that coach Stuart (posting above) refereed to on the Yoga and Head/Spine Position thread on the Freestyle section which pertains to your problem and to the point of all us TI enthusiasts.

Just watch -- it's amazing how the legs go down as soon as the head goes up!

The connection may not be obvious to you immediately, because as far as you know, the problem is just breathing, but the video reaches further back than that, and addresses the problem of balance, which you may not be aware of as a problem in the first place, until your attempts to breathe tip your overall balance so far off the ideal that you notice the results. But almost certainly, your underlying balance is poor (as is the case for most nervous novice swimmers), because your number one priority, instinctively, is not to obtain balance (what's that???), but to get in position for that next huge gasp of air. It certainly was the case for me, although I didn't know it at the time.

Last edited by sclim : 02-15-2015 at 11:33 PM.
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