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  #1  
Old 06-16-2011
kevemoh kevemoh is offline
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kevemoh
Default Eureka ! Breathing mystery solved.

To all those reading this who are struggling to breathe comfortably, I have something to say to you. I was that struggler; a reasonably fit 47 year old who was left hypoxic and exhausted after a lousy two lengths. Iíd read everything on the subject, watched everything, tried everything (apart from what finally worked - obviously!) and battled for over 6 months to discover the answer to this most frustrating of puzzles.

Thatís my good news. But now the not so good news. Unfortunately, I donít have the simple tip that will cure your particular issue, but what I do have is the message that the mystery is solvable. I can also share some of my own experiences and if it helps just one of you to have the joy and satisfaction my solution has given me, then my time writing this will have been well spent.

I know that breathing (during freestyle!) is a complex issue but for sake of simplicity, I will break it down into two categories.

How often?
Every 2, every 3, every 4, 5, 6 or more?
I can swim a full relaxed length exhaling gently through the nose so surely any breathing pattern I decided to chose would be manageable? . . . . WRONG.
Well, Right and Wrong. Right, if all I ever wanted to swim was one length but wrong, if I wanted to swim any further! So, it was back to trying every combination in between.
I can stand in the shallow end as recommended and simulate the breathing motion for a variety of patterns quite comfortably for a reasonable length of time, but somehow when I tried to incorporate those patterns into swimming whole stroke, it was never quite as comfortable !
I have to say at this point that Iím aware that there are many other balance and stroke mechanics issues that come into play which affect breathing comfort, which is why I believe every swimmer will have their own unique solution.
Itís a huge game of trial and error but believe me, there will be one that suits you.

Although the purists advocate bilateral breathing (alternate sides, every third stroke) most TI coaches seem to prefer breathing every two, changing the side to which you breathe on odd and even laps. This is the pattern I settled on. TI coaches know best! It is so important to try to synchronise your breathing during whole stroke to that which you would use in a normal relaxed state.
I know every two should work but I still found it impossible to do comfortably for more than 3 - 4 lengths. I watched with envy at other people doing length after length, (including people I considered to have serious technique issues), so why couldnít I do it? What were they doing that I wasnít? Itís only breathing in and out, Iíve been doing it all my life! I can do it easily in breaststroke, it canít be that difficult surely??
So if it wasnít the frequency, what else could it be? . . . which leads me on to the second category.

How much?
There are many threads and varying advice on how much to exhale and how much to inhale - from exhaling forcefully to empty your lungs completely to slow trickling in order to leave a base amount of air in your lungs which just needs topped up.
So I set out on another trial and error mission. The method which finally worked for me was the slow trickle leaving enough air that, should I miss a breath, I wouldnít panic. I was surprised how little I had to expel and how little I then had to inhale when I went for breath. Gone was the panic for air and the huge gulp I needed when I got there and the shuddering, spluttering halt I came to if I couldnít make that breath for some reason.

One of the habits I had gotten into, which I think contributed to my difficulties, was that I used to continue my exhalation when my mouth came to air. I wasnít even aware I was doing it until it was pointed out to me. Itís possibly my subconscious way of guaranteeing no water would go up my nose. Try focusing on this when you are simulating your breathing pattern standing in the shallow end. Do nothing except inhale when your mouth breaks the water for air. I find my breathing easiest when I can do this although it still challenges me.
My habit had effectively reduced the time I had given myself to inhale, causing me to gulp for air, resulting in me not getting the amount I needed, a build up of wind and general discomfort and lack of faith in the process, leading to tension and a quick and steep downward spiral into technique hell.
Familiar story anyone??

The other discovery I had was that I needed to keep my head much lower while breathing. I realised this in particular when I viewed the link below that Coach Kris sent me in another post I had made. His head is so deep.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-vNJL3W5ZM

This reinforced other advice I had read, summarised very well in the link below, concerning zero head lift, red dot / laser beam and Ďriskyí head position while breathing.
http://www.h2oustonswims.org/Blurbs/...us-RedDot.html

So there you have it. Donít get me wrong, I donít for a moment think that I am now a great swimmer. There are so many other points of technique I need to improve on, but this was the single biggest challenge I had. It still takes me a while to find my breathing nirvana each time I go to the pool but I know it will become second nature eventually. I have experienced it and have since covered 600m with only mild discomfort in places, but it was with a smile on my face. Patient, mindful practice eventually provided the solution and it has given me the confidence to solve whatever else I need to in order to become the swimmer I hope to be. I know I can do it . . . and so can you.

Credit yourself with the intelligence and resourcefulness to figure it out. Youíre on this forum so thatís sufficient evidence of both requirements already!

The very best of luck to you in solving your own personal swimming mysteries.
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  #2  
Old 06-22-2011
collinsdc collinsdc is offline
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Kevemoh, I offer my heartfelt congratulations to you. You must be floating on air with your recent achievements, well done. It always restores my faith in TI when I read success stories.

Your experience on solving your breathing issues is probably one of the most comprehensive I have read yet, it is inspiring & perhaps there is hope for me after all!

I am stuck on the breathing plateau & have been for a while now. Recently I made some progess by getting beyond my threshold of 50m but I am still experimenting & tweaking to find that "aha" moment when it all registers.

Thanks for sharing your insights & best of luck with further progress.

Denis.
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  #3  
Old 07-05-2011
kevemoh kevemoh is offline
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kevemoh
Default Eureka update !

Hi Denis,
Many thanks for your comments. You sound very much like you are on the same plateau I was, where the breathing issue dominates your every waking moment . . . at least it did mine!! When every time you go for a swim session you are filled with optimism that this will be the one where everything clicks, where at last you can move on to doing the sets and intervals that you hear others talk/write about and focus on other elements of your stroke and see what difference tweaks make to your 200m/400m times etc etc.

To be honest, Iím still not at that point. Although I found a way to breathe comfortably, I wasnít happy with the stroke technique I was using to achieve it. I was over rotating and the pause in my timing to get my lungful of air wasnít conducive to a balanced, rhythmical stroke. So while Iím not back to square one as such, I am still working on comfortable breathing.
Going back to the drills has helped, transitioning from skating through to switches. I have felt what comfortable breathing feels like and I am far more confident of achieving it to my satisfaction than I was before.

I would say to you and all those who are less than satisfied with their breathing, STAY POSITIVE.
I know from personal experience that it can be incredibly frustrating and it definitely dragged me down into some dark times of disillusionment and pessimism. However the joy of solving will more than make up for those times I can assure you.

What I would also say might be stating the obvious, but if what youíre doing now isnít having the results you desire then you must try something different. I donít believe that going to the pool and reinforcing the struggle will ever provide the solution. Youíve got to ask yourself . . . what is going to change? What do I have to do differently to correct this? If you donít at least have some ideas, you need to explore this forum and every source of information available on the subject.
However I have found that the best source is a TI coach who can give you immediate and insightful feedback on the nuances of every drill which will provide the foundation for a relaxed, comfortable and efficient stroke.

Best of luck.

PS. I stay over at the Silver Springs a couple of times a year (from the Mourne county to the Rebel county!) and make good use of the pool . . . . even though the hike up to it is a workout in itself !!
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  #4  
Old 07-05-2011
gladtobedifferent gladtobedifferent is offline
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gladtobedifferent
Default Hooray

I read these posts earlier today and focused on doing what my coach said. Get in, swim slowly and keep going - dont try and go faster, dont rush or gasp for air - be relaxed.

I thought, I can run for an hour I can bike for an hour - so why cant I swim for 15 minutes.

Til today, using TI, the furtherest I had gone in one go was 4 lengths of a 25m pool.

So in I got, relaxed, nothing to worry about at 920pm at night, no rush - and started to swim - no focus on 2 beat kick, breathing every 2, and not worrying......I saw from the clock in the pool that i had done about 10 mintues and thought keep going for another 4 and see where we have got to.

18 lengths !!! I was not out of breath, I was relaxed and felt I could have kept going.......(with I had !!). Yipee.

So the proof will be going to the pool tomorrow lunch time and seeing how it goes.
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  #5  
Old 07-06-2011
kevemoh kevemoh is offline
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kevemoh
Default Hooray, Yippee, Eureka, Aha

Fantastic news gladtobedifferent, congratulations.
Letís see if we can make this thread a chorus of Hoorays, Yippees, Eurekas & Ahas.
A place where all those who have had a breakthrough in their breathing can express their joy and give hope and tips to those who still have the experience to look forward to.
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  #6  
Old 07-06-2011
gladtobedifferent gladtobedifferent is offline
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gladtobedifferent
Default A pause in the 'hoorays'!!

Ok so got in today and did 15 lengths according to my watch (i finished where i started so must have been 16!!) in 10.35 mins. strokes per length were 32 versus 34 of yesterday. I was more tired than yesterday but still not exhausted. Focused on keeping a long line

oK - So the issues - can hold a patient hand when breathing to my left but it all goes very wrong when I breathe to the right. I think I might be lifting my head. My lead hand drops, I cant keep it ahead of me while the recovery arm comes round ready to spear.

After my laps I tried to practise full stroke slowly breathing to the right and my hand was dropping all the time, became unbalanced - feels horrible. So when doing my laps i generally keep my breathing to the left all the time as confidence goes out the window if i dont.

I spent some time trying to analyse what was wrong, but could not find a correction that would work so got out the pool. The only thing that came close was if I picked up the speed, the arm then didnt drop as quickly . I also tried getting my breath earlier , which resulted in mouthfuls of water !! I then did balance and rotations on back to practise and that all works fine, its just in full stroke that it all goes wrong.

My neck is feeling a bit stiff from only breathing to the left. So keen to get this resolved. Also, for any distance (400 is a long way for me), i find it better if I can breathe every 2 when I need to (most of the time) and would like to do one length to one side and the other side to the other.

Help please - by the way my stroke rate I think is really slow as I am focusing on a) distance b) technique. For 25 m i do about 20-22 strokes in around 40 seconds.

thanks
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  #7  
Old 07-06-2011
Mike from NS Mike from NS is offline
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Mike from NS
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Breathing is my greatest mountain to conquer and like you "gladtobedifferent" breathing to my left is very easy ... no problem keeping the right arm out-stretched. Breathing to my right side is a different animal. It is a mental focus that keeps the left arm outstretched during the breath. The early arm movements are a give-a-way sign of balance issues that must be sorted out.

My latest theory on why I have difficulties breathing to my right ties into realizing I have less flexibility in turning my head to the right than to the left. Not much of a difference, but for me it is easier to look over my left shoulder than over the right. Also, if laying on my stomach, it is the right side of my face that is down. There is too much neck strain to lay with the left side down.

Any similarities here with you? If so maybe we need some land based neck stretching exercises.

All this being said ....... today I followed the shoulder with my chin to the air. It worked quite well but I likely was over-rotating and probably lifting the head more than is desirable.

Mike
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  #8  
Old 07-07-2011
gladtobedifferent gladtobedifferent is offline
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Default question

Not sure what the below means in your post ?

I followed the shoulder with my chin to the air


Does this mean that you rotate your head and not rotate yourself to get air ?

Re balance - went back to doing skate drills and breathing, and that worked to both sides. So when going slowly and not doing full stroke it is fine. It just all goes wrong in full stroke. My coach said I have good balance.

I think I am lifting my head and pushing down on the water as I do this. Think the flexibility issue you mentioned may not be helping, so need to find a way to breath on the right without lifting - which if I do skate and rotate a long way round works fine.

Still no nearer finding how to resolve.

suggestions ?
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  #9  
Old 07-07-2011
efdoucette efdoucette is offline
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efdoucette
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevemoh View Post
Fantastic news gladtobedifferent, congratulations.
Letís see if we can make this thread a chorus of Hoorays, Yippees, Eurekas & Ahas.
A place where all those who have had a breakthrough in their breathing can express their joy and give hope and tips to those who still have the experience to look forward to.
I really like this thread.

I haven't had that breakthrough yet but am feeling more confident that it will come. I'm sensing a general theme; relax, go slow, breath to one side, no gasping, head down, push on.

Thanks all
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  #10  
Old 07-07-2011
Mike from NS Mike from NS is offline
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Mike from NS
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gladtobedifferent View Post
Not sure what the below means in your post ?

I followed the shoulder with my chin to the air


suggestions ?


If I have this right ... Terry once explained ... to breathe ... roll just enough (shoulder out of water) then turn your head a bit further to air..... ie roll the torso then turn head a bit further. Go thorough the Nod & Swim drill to feel this.

Following the shoulder with the chin is another way I've heard the explaniation .... as you roll imagine a string attaching the chin to the shoulder ... as the shoulder turns .... the chin follows. Also try keeping the head in line and as if laying on a pillow as you roll .... ie inline with the spine.

Hope that's clearer.

Mike
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