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  #21  
Old 05-02-2011
speckle speckle is offline
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Hi, sorry to hear you're having difficulties.

I'm brand new to TI but I would definitely look first at body tension as a possible cause of breathing struggle. I used to play underwater hockey and at first I could hardly stay under for any time at all. I always felt that I was short of air and would be gasping when I came to the surface. Of course, at the bottom of the pool you can hear your own heartbeat quite clearly. I realised that my heart was always thumping (almost as though 'we're not supposed to be down here!'). So I began to focus on slowing my heart rate by relaxing my body and allowing myself to be easily supported by the water. If my pulse quickened, it alerted me to tension, and I would consciously relax once again. The difference was amazing - I could stay underwater for much, much longer, and I got a lot more enjoyment out of the game.

The by-product was that I stopped seeing water as an enemy that stopped me breathing and learnt that it would support me just fine, no need to be scared or struggle against it. Now I try to keep the same relaxed body, slow heart when I swim.

Perhaps it would be helpful to wear earplugs in one or both ears for a few sessions while drilling SG etc, so that you can hear your heart/breath and use it as a feedback on how relaxed you are in the water. I guess it's a cheap thing to try anyway!

Good luck :)

Last edited by speckle : 05-02-2011 at 07:12 PM.
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  #22  
Old 05-02-2011
cynthiam cynthiam is offline
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I wasn't going to bother posting a "me too" entry to this thread, but speckle's post caught my eye. I really think for me tension is the biggest contributor to my getting winded after only 50m or so (sometimes 25m!).

My form isn't perfect by any means, but it's not terrible either. I do tend to swim a little too fast/with too much effort (another contributing factor) but get somewhat winded even when swimming slowly.

I focus on relaxation in just about every swim session, but yesterday I really paid attention to where and when the tension happens. I was surprised at how quickly it returns after relaxing it away. I felt my body "scrunch", especially in the neck and shoulder area (an area of persistent tightness for me) but also in my low back. The low back tension comes mostly when I'm skating on my weaker side. It seems to be a compensation for less efficient neural communication on that side.

I came up with a few focal points for myself and will use them at the beginning of my swims and whenever else necessary. One that made me laugh and helped me relax was, "float your vertebrae apart". I imagined my spine comfortably relaxing open, lengthening from top of head to tailbone. This helped move my shoulders down from around my neck, and my low back from tilting to a more neutral and lenghtened position.

This focal point accomplishes several things for me: relaxation, more room to breathe (not scrunched up around the throat), spinal alignment, riding higher in the water, lengthening my stroke. It also helps relax my arms & legs. I just have to be careful not to overreach when my spearing hand enters the water.

The other reason I think tension is the main culprit is that I see other swimmers going lap after lap, and their form is less efficient than mine. One guy I shared a lane with was doing 46 strokes per 25m (really, I counted), continually churning with arms & legs, yet was not at all winded or exhausted after 25 or so laps. He was sort of stout, with a large belly, and it was an effort for him to climb the rungs in & out of the pool. When I asked him later about his endurance, he said "it's all about being relaxed".
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  #23  
Old 05-03-2011
RobM77 RobM77 is offline
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Wow - what a great response. Thanks for everyone who's taken the time to post. It's very comforting to hear that other people are having this breathing problem too, although it deepens the mystery somewhat. Furthermore, my TI coach said that she has a pupil who swims almost perfectly but can't manage more than a length due to a breathing problem...

I have improved since starting TI. My stroke feels smoother, more relaxed, and according to my friends, looks much better too. Quantitive measures are tricky, but I've measured distance and speed. Distance wise, since I started learning TI a year ago my endurance has doubled - that is to say it's gone from 25 metres to 50, which although the absolute distance is dissapointing, the increase itself is impressive. As for speed, I know that's the last thing TI is about, but out of interest I've timed myself now and then just to see if that's improved, and sure enough, my speed has also increased: I've gone from a best time of around 19 seconds over 25 metres (pre TI) down to about 16 seconds. Given that I'm probably no stronger now than I was when I started, that speed increase probably indicates a dramatic reduction in drag and a technique improvement (which is the aim of TI: decrease drag and improve technique), which is great.

Incidentally, my endurance when swimming absolutely flat out (25m in 16s) is no different to when I swim normally (25m in ~25s) or even as slow as I can manage (25m in 30s). All result in me tiring at about 50 metres post TI, and 25 metres pre-TI last February. My endurance seems purely breath limited, and doesn't seem related to my physical exertion at all, which is never being stretched due to the breathing issue (give me a snorkel and I'd probably do 100 lengths!).

I can't help but wonder if the breathing issues that I have are down to the way my lungs work. I often see runners chatting or drinking whilst they're running, but even though I can do a 90 minute half marathon (a reasonable club time), I find chatting, drinking, blowing my nose etc extremely difficult, even if running slowly. To investigate this, I plan to have a full fitness test soon to check my lung capacity, efficiency, fitness level etc. Like the poster on the previous page, I'm fine in other sports, but I find that when I'm running, cycling etc my mouth is open the whole time and I'm breathing in and out extremely quickly. I hope everything's normal, but it's an avenue that I should (reluctantly) look down.

Tension's been mentioned a few times, and this interests me greatly. Even though I love swimming and snorkeling because I enjoy being under the water so much, I'm far from relaxed above and around water and have a very long standing fear of water that goes back to childhood. I feel totally relaxed and at home in the water when swimming, but maybe something subconcious is happening? Obviously swimming 5 times a week for a year hasn't improved things, so maybe I need to attempt that contradiction in terms which is to conciously try and relax.

So, my next steps are:

a) to try and relax more when swimming
b) try that fitness test to investigate the science behind my lungs and power etc.

I'll update this thread with any progress that I make!

thanks again.
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  #24  
Old 05-03-2011
Lawrence Lawrence is offline
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You're probably holding your breath at one or more points during the stroke cycle, instead of spending the entire time breathing either in or out. This may sound overly simple but is usually the issue. Relaxation is important but breath holding undoes everything else.
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  #25  
Old 05-03-2011
RobM77 RobM77 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lawrence View Post
You're probably holding your breath at one or more points during the stroke cycle, instead of spending the entire time breathing either in or out. This may sound overly simple but is usually the issue. Relaxation is important but breath holding undoes everything else.
Thanks. I'm definitely not holding my breath. My coach teaches in an endless pool and films me with two underwater cameras, and watches my breathing the whole time (we often tweak it).
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  #26  
Old 05-03-2011
speckle speckle is offline
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Hello again,

The shortness of breath thing was on my mind today at the pool and I noticed a few things that seemed to have an effect - on me at least...

1/ too much kicking!
For me the cause was arm too high on recovery. This was making my legs sink so I felt the need to kick harder. I was surprised how high in the air my arm was ('omg what is it doing up there!'). Lots of going along with my fingers trailing in the water to try and bring it down.

2/ getting the wrong breathing interval.
I normally breathe every 3 strokes. I thought I'd see what happened if I breathed every 2 instead. It was awful! I felt like I was hyperventilating - the breathing was too hurried. Then I tried every 4, which turned out to be quite comfortable.

It seems counter-intuitive that breathing less often would make you feel less out of breath, but maybe give it a try?!

Last edited by speckle : 05-03-2011 at 04:16 PM.
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  #27  
Old 05-03-2011
RobM77 RobM77 is offline
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Thanks Speckle.

1) This is an interesting subject. I've noticed in most of the Terry/Shinji demo videos that they barely kick at all; usually just once a stroke to propel them through the twist. My coach tells me not to worry about how many kicks I do per stroke, but I did actually start experimenting with this over Christmas. Initially my legs were like an electric motor that just got switched on when I swum, and I couldn't slow down or speed the rhythm up, but then I tried doing two lengths without kicking at all, which seemed to break that set rhythmic connection with my arms and ever since then I've been able to vary my kick frequency and try different things. I had hoped it would solve my problem (as legs suck a lot of power for the oomph they provide), but it doesn't seem to make much different.

2) Again, this is something where I've been taught one thing but curiosity has got me trying a few variations. I like the feeling of swimming without breathing; one can stay streamlined for much longer and it feels more inherently right. I've been taught to breath every stroke, but have tried everything from once a length to ever 3 or 4 strokes, or standard billateral breathing. Billateral is actually my preference, but my coach says that the benefits of breathing every stroke outweigh the streamlining advantages of breathing less often. Again, I haven't noticed much difference to my endurance by messing about with the breathing. That has surprised me, seeing as all I want to do is breath in and out like I do when I'm running or cycling.

Thanks for your thoughts.
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  #28  
Old 05-03-2011
steve0732 steve0732 is offline
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Default My experiment

After reading these threads and having no problem with continuous back stroking vs. freestyle, I tried an experiment. I ran yesterday at my slowest pace and breathed only every 10 steps. The sensation was just like in the pool. After 3 breathes it became the only thought in my mind and at about 5 breathes panic set in. I did not push it, but never made it past 6 sets of controlled breathing.

I am thinking when your body is used to regular breathing it becomes hard to hold your breath without your brain starting to slowly scream, "I need air". Plus each of my breathes was deep and perfect while running. No short breathes or having to make sure to take as much as I could with eath breath.
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  #29  
Old 05-03-2011
RobM77 RobM77 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steve0732 View Post
After reading these threads and having no problem with continuous back stroking vs. freestyle, I tried an experiment. I ran yesterday at my slowest pace and breathed only every 10 steps. The sensation was just like in the pool. After 3 breathes it became the only thought in my mind and at about 5 breathes panic set in. I did not push it, but never made it past 6 sets of controlled breathing.

I am thinking when your body is used to regular breathing it becomes hard to hold your breath without your brain starting to slowly scream, "I need air". Plus each of my breathes was deep and perfect while running. No short breathes or having to make sure to take as much as I could with eath breath.
I think I may have mentioned this earlier, but I tried this as well and I couldn't run for more than a few seconds using a swimming breathing pattern. I even failed at walking using a swimming breathing pattern, and bear in mind that I walk 4 miles a day and go on long hikes at weekends, so to fail at walking is unheard of for me. By swimming breathing pattern, I mean the exhalation lasts longer than the inhalation, and you can't breathe as often as may be natural.

I'm getting increasingly convinced that whilst poor swimming technique may cause people to get out of breath, more persistent problems like I've described for myself point towards a more fundamental and perhaps even anatomically based inability. What would help prove this hunch and be very interesting indeed is if a capable swimmer from this forum (one who can swim several hundred metres front crawl without stopping) could try walking for a few minutes following a swimming breathing pattern and see how they get on.
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  #30  
Old 05-03-2011
efdoucette efdoucette is offline
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RobM77
Your on to something. During my walk today I was conscience of my breathing and realized that with normal breathing, inhale is longer than the exhale. Can't do that swimming freestyle. Also noticed that some breaths were deeper, some longer, some shorted. The in / out seemed to need to balance itself.
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