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  #1  
Old 07-31-2012
gbjj gbjj is offline
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gbjj
Default Freestyle Woes..

Progress has been very slow for me, I have the TI book, however, I feel as though it's not the same as the DVD's. At this point after a few months I'm still unable to swim steady for as long as I would like. I struggle with gasping for air. I can barely make 2 lengths of the pool without stopping for a rest. It's not that I'm in bad shape, I do Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and can can wrestle for non-stop forever...which is extreme cardio... this is clearly ( at least to me) an issue of breathing and effeciency...

Latest Discovery:

Keeping my recovering arm tucked by my side as I pull. When I first did this it was a miracle, I almost spun myself over. It made the roll absolutley effortless. I started working on this today in conjuction with ensuring when I would reach out I would not reach towards the center of my body line.

I am discovering that keeping my elbow close to my side it almost spins me over like a barrell. It's imperitive that my leading hand has to be out in front of my shoulder away from the centerline...

Does anyone have any tips or drills for working on this....
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  #2  
Old 07-31-2012
tomoy tomoy is offline
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My first recommendation when hearing about people gasping to do a lap, is to force yourself to slow down.

Standing at the edge of the pool, you can probably inhale for 1s and exhale for 3s, over and over, for 2 minutes. Next, sink into the water for those 3s, stand up to inhale, then exhale underwater for 3s and repeat. Next, float face down doing the same thing. You should still be able to do it almost continuously. As long as the water isn't short circuiting your nervous system.

The big step is to do that in Superman Glide. If you find you can't keep the relaxed breathing pattern, ask yourself what's getting tight/flexed that would force the demand for more oxygen.

The same goes for underwater switch, etc. As you add each piece of the stroke, it shouldn't be taking much more energy.

In my experience most people who have a hard time with the struggle for air are kicking furiously when they really need to work on just floating balanced in the water. So that's a lot of SG and Skate work.

Good luck!
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  #3  
Old 08-01-2012
tony0000 tony0000 is offline
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Gbjj,

I hear what you're saying. I also get winded after a lap even though I'm in reasonably good cardio shape. I, of course, don't know whether we have the same issues. My issue is that I can't "just float" in the water as tomoy suggests. (BTW, thanks for your thoughts tomoy!) Even though I try to maximize the time my arms are in front, my legs still sink. A constant flutter kick would keep them up, but not a two-beat kick. So I have to pull forcefully to create hydraulic lift for the legs. But given bilateral breathing and stroke rate of around 1.5s, I'm not getting enough air to support my excursion.

My approach is to experiment with a swim snorkel to try to determine whether I need to cut down on my oxygen use through a more relaxed swim or try to increase my oxygen intake through better breathing technique. You might want to try this (if this makes sense).

Tony
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  #4  
Old 08-01-2012
tomoy tomoy is offline
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Hi Tony - 2 quick questions.

How many inches below the water is your lead hand in Skate position?
How much are you rotating?

Even though you may be a sinker, try not to think of it as a black and white thing, i.e. some sink, others don't. It's more often a question of how quickly vs how slowly as one inhales and exhales, and there are things you can do sink less quickly. Being flat in the water, both horizontally and laterally, gives you greater surface area for the water to support, so that's something to focus on.

Spear lower to balance front with back. Rotate less to balance right with left. I don't know what other issues you may be facing which pull you down, but that's a starting point.

p.s. I wouldn't be above breathing on the same side one way down the pool, then the other side on the way back. Gotta get enough air. And until you can conserve energy, it's a fact. Gotta breathe!

Last edited by tomoy : 08-01-2012 at 08:45 AM. Reason: breathing bit
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  #5  
Old 08-01-2012
gbjj gbjj is offline
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Well, this morning's workout was a little better so to speak, I worked on the Superman glide for a few minutes before swimming and doing the breathing excercises. It seemed to help or at least make me more aware of relaxing.

My Focus this morning was on my underwater turns, keeping elbow close. I had several instances where my underwater turns where effortless, it seemed like perfection, but still struggled greatly with my breathing.

Today I ended up quite a lot just breathing on one side all the way up and down the pool almost every stroke, it caused me to lose a lot of my focus on form.

What seems to really help me immensly at this point (and ingrain in my mind the need to keep 1 arm out in front at all times) is to never retrieve my arm until my returning arm is next to it. I work on this quite a lot and it really slows my stroke rate down ( Keeps it at about 13 from one end to the other ). This is the 1 excercise I have been very consistent about using since I first started learning TI. I Always have 1 arm out in front of me, Reach and as soon as both hands are together in front of me then retrieve 1 arm.

I have a friend who has been swimming for a while, I watch him swim ( he typically knocks out 1-2 miles) a lot and he seems to never rest, however; he seems so innefficient and his stroke rate is so high ( and he swims with a snorkle, I refuse to use the snorkle, it's a matter of principle at this point lol, I will learn!!). Mine is half as much as his and I make it from one end of the pool to the other in less time than him, I know I'm on the right track, but sustainability is my issue.. I'm really looking forward to getting past this small sticking point. All I am really looking for at this point in my journey is to be able to swim for 30-45 minutes without resting.

at this point I'm going to order the perpetual motion in 10 easy steps DVD so I can have quality instruction and a great reference point to be able to work from.

.... I'll have much more to say on this but for now... I struggle greatly, but still manage to get a good workout in every morning and I enjoy the heck out of it as well...
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  #6  
Old 08-01-2012
tony0000 tony0000 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomoy View Post
Hi Tony - 2 quick questions.

How many inches below the water is your lead hand in Skate position?
How much are you rotating?

Even though you may be a sinker, try not to think of it as a black and white thing, i.e. some sink, others don't. It's more often a question of how quickly vs how slowly as one inhales and exhales, and there are things you can do sink less quickly. Being flat in the water, both horizontally and laterally, gives you greater surface area for the water to support, so that's something to focus on.

Spear lower to balance front with back. Rotate less to balance right with left. I don't know what other issues you may be facing which pull you down, but that's a starting point.

p.s. I wouldn't be above breathing on the same side one way down the pool, then the other side on the way back. Gotta get enough air. And until you can conserve energy, it's a fact. Gotta breathe!

Thanks for your suggestions (and encouragement), Tomoy! Today's swim went much better. To answer your questions:

When I swim, my lead hand is about 10 inches below the water. I'm not sure how much I am rotating, but I try not to rotate more than necessary. For example, when I breathe to my right I try to keep my left lead hand stationary in its target point, and to resist the temptation to drop it. But likely room for improvement here in practice.

Also, when swimming today I kept in mind your suggestions about trying to keep flat to avoid sinking and breathing on one side, alternating lengths. Very helpful. I'm now swimming at a 1.3 stroke tempo and and covering 25y in 17-18 strokes. I'm stopping briefly at the end of a lap, but feeling that the stress on my body is tolerable, and that aerobic and anaerobic systems are about equally stressed (as it should be).

Hopefully someday I'll get back to bilateral breathing. If nothing else, it makes it easier to keep the stroke symmetric. But I guess I can always try breathing 6, then 5, then 4, then 3, etc. times before alternating.

Tony
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  #7  
Old 09-21-2012
gbjj gbjj is offline
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Update:

I did purchase the freestyle DVD, initially I thought, hmmm.. only 10 lessons, I can get through these quite quickly. On the contrary, I found that once I started working on them I found it quite enjoyable just slowly drilling them over and over... I've had the DVD for a while now and have not even finished watching the whole thing.. great stuff.

As for my Swimming, I am now quite comfortable swimming indefinetly, and I have no idea when the transition happened. Yesterday I recorded a 2000 Meter swim at 29 minutes and felt really great, nice pace. Then did drills and sprints for another 15 minutes after that...

I do find that I breath every time to the right, and it's very awkward at this point to breathe to the left... so I work on that.... and currently I'm up to the point of working on the switch drill and integrating that with my wide recovery..
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  #8  
Old 09-21-2012
jenson1a jenson1a is offline
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Default Somethings Wrong

As an avid reader of this forum, I find that there are many useful solutions that both coaches and reader post--about many things. However, it seems that the most common complaint (or problem) is the breathing. Many fit people tell how they can't even swim one length without becoming breathless. Some say you don't exhale enough while others say you might be exhaling too much, you aren't fit enough, you aren't relaxed enough, you aren't balanced enough, etc, etc etc.

When I first started TI, I only had the book as a reference to go by. To me, it seemed that the most important thing was your spl. If it was high, you weren't efficient. I got so use to counting strokes, that even when I was watching other swimmers, I counted their strokes also. If I saw that I wasn't going to make the spl I wanted, I tensed up, kicked harder, and pulled harder, and you got it, I was totally out of breath.

Just yesterday I saw a post by Terry (and if I don't have this right, correct me), that in the beginning it is more important to develop a relaxed stroke. So when I went to the pool, that was the first thing I tried--had to really focus on NOT counting spl. What a difference that made.

Now maybe the lack of ease isn't anyone else's problem, but there seems to be something very wrong with the process that so many people experience breathlessness-especially when these people can be new to swimming as well as those that have been swimming many years.

Not sure where I am going with this, but I guess I wish I had gotten the dvd (Easy Freestyle) first and just worked on each lesson diligently. I have read from many of you posters that TI is a journey and I guess I have taken many wrong turns.

Having a TI coach would also have been a great benefit in the early stages.

Maybe the newer dvds have a better approach, if not, maybe the problem of breathlessness s/b addressed in a better manner.

Sorry for the long post--but do any others feel that there might be a better way to approach this?

Sherry
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  #9  
Old 09-21-2012
Mike from NS Mike from NS is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jenson1a View Post
Sorry for the long post--but do any others feel that there might be a better way to approach this?

Sherry
Sherry,

I thought the most important ability to have was the ability to relax. Learning to swim as an adult is difficult enough and learning to relax was almost impossible. One ability seems to feed the others. In order to relax I needed confidence driven knowledge to be able to survive a swim session. It has taken many years to gain this and now I have learned the value of being relaxed. Breathing has become so much easier. Through bobbing, the nod & swim drill and learning what exactly a "bite of air" is, my breathing has greatly improved. Still needs more improvement, but the difference over the past year has brought enjoyment to my swimming. So ... my approach in gaining the confidence to learn to relax was to play in the water more. For example: I go to the deep end (12 ft ) and push myself to the bottom. I sit on a flutter board and scull the pool length - feeling delicate balance. I stand in 5 feet and jump up to "dive" back down. And I jump in feet first from the deck. (My diving in from the deck is a work in progress.) Simple play time to get used to the environment and learn what happens as the result of various actions. Also diving to the bottom to retrieve coins or anything else is good play time (as is swimming along the bottom). You're focused on the retrieval but are learning skills at the same time .... and learning that you can do these things builds confidence - and thus relaxation. I think we gain much more from the drills if in this illusive relaxed state. Once relaxed, balance and breathing become so much easier.

Mike
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  #10  
Old 09-22-2012
CoachGaryF CoachGaryF is offline
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Tony,
A fit person who gets fatigued after a length or two generally has one or more of these problems:

1. Not breathing often enough. Breathing every 3rd or 4th stroke just won't fuel your body sufficiently, particularly if you are swimming at tempos of 1:30 or slower. If you're not breathing every other stroke (same side every time) give it a try and see if more air has you feeling less spent. (Breathing every two strokes at a 1:30 tempo equals 23 breaths per minute; breathing every 3rd stroke at that tempo brings your rate of respiration down to 15 breaths per minute. Not a lot of air to work with.)

2. You are working too hard somewhere and burning through your fuel too rapidly. Kicking is the primary culprit here. Sounds like you feel you have no choice but to kick more to stay up. You even mention pulling harder to help you stay up. You shouldn't have to do either of those things.

Problem 1 is simple: experiment with breathing more frequently.

Problem 2 could have several solutions. Here is where I'd look for answers:

Are you balanced in the water? Sounds like the answer is no, because you're using your kick and "hydraulic lift" to compensate to stay balanced. Perhaps an adjustment in head position or lead arm position will fix it. But I don't think so. You're probably already attentive to these two possible solutions, since EVERYONE who practices TI is aware of them. Maybe we can assume you've experimented with head and arm position, and they've not provided an answer.

Here's my suspicion: your recovery arm (the part of the stroke from exit in the back to entry in the front) is in the air too long. Even when swimming at easy speeds you need to have a rhythmic and quick exit move that swings cleanly and without hesitation to front. Many swimmers carry their arm forward at a uniform, slow speed. Others break the rhythm of the recovery, so that instead of one fluid move it feels like a series of moves (lift, bring forward, drop in.) Your arm should move fastest just after the exit phase, swing smoothly forward, then slow down a bit as it drops to the surface prior to entry. Try this as an exercise to see what I mean:

Kick lightly (with fins if necessary) in a skating position. Swing your trailing arm through the air and all the way forward until it's resting on the surface next to the other arm, a la superman glide. Repeat that movement, with slow swings at first and then progressively faster swings. On the slow swings you will sink. At a certain swing speed you will eliminate nearly all sinking. That's because the amount of time your arm is in the air is so small that there literally is no time for it to affect your balance. It will be less than a full second, I think. Maybe 7 tenths of a second.

This strikes me as a possible chain of events: Your recovery takes too long, causing you to sink. When you sink, you compensate with more kicks and harder pulls. When you kick more and pull harder you consume more fuel. When you consume more fuel, you feel desperate for air. When you feel desperate for air, you stop swimming. When you stop swimming you end up in a roadside ditch. (No wait, that's one of those DirectTV ads!)

The affect of recovery speed on balance is not often discussed. But given that most TI swimmers chug along at slow tempos (1:30 and slower, which puts you at greater risk for an inappropriately slow recovery), and that an extra tenth or two during the recovery phase is all it takes to make you sink (despite doing everything else right), this may be an issue worth examining.

Gary
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