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Old 03-14-2009
Grant Grant is offline
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Default Retaining O2 or getting rid of CO2

Would like to hear what comes up regarding this subject. By far the most widely accepted approach is gently and steadily exhaling once the face is under water. It is theorized that this gets rid of the CO2 most efficently. When the mouth comes out of the water the air is completly exhaled. This is followed by the inhalation.
I have come across people who again theorize that it is best to hold the breath when the face is under water as this keeps the most O2 available for the system. Then blow out forcefully and completely just before coming to the surface and making the inhalation.
This latter approach seems to be best used in sprint situations.
Has anyone any good scientific info that would support either approach?
I know people who swim the Fly taking a breath every three strokes and others that swim Free taking a breath every six strokes. They train at this and are sucessful.
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Old 03-14-2009
Jamwhite Jamwhite is offline
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I have no scientific data, but I found your post throught provoking. I realized that I do both.

I can easily swim a relaxed 25y of freestyle or breaststroke with no breath, but this is only possible because I hold my breath the majority of the time, and slowly release it before I get to the end. For me, releasing the breath actually relaxes the tension that holding it builds up. I imagine, based on your description, that I am holding onto my oxygen and start releasing it once enough of it has been converted to CO2.

I use this same technique nearly every length because I nearly always flipturn and do 3-5 dolphin kicks out of the turn. Usually after the first dolphin, I will start to exhale.

As a rule, from experience, I would never exhale forcefully before breathing because it causes me to really tense up. I only do this if I start to panic and need air immediately (or sometimes when I try to breath water). But on that same note, exhaling immediately seems like a waste of good oxygen, because once I finish exhaling, I MUST breath. It is extremely uncomfortable to remain exhaled.

Thank you for thought provoking thread.
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Old 03-14-2009
shuumai shuumai is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamwhite View Post
I imagine, based on your description, that I am holding onto my oxygen and start releasing it once enough of it has been converted to CO2.
I makes total sense that it would take time for O2 to be absorbed and CO2 to be expelled. I'm a good test case because my system doesn't seem to exchange air efficiently. A 25-yard shooter is just possible for me with fins. I find that if I release too much air early, I can't make it. If I relax and hold my breathe mostly until I'm in the last third or quarter of the length, it works better. So, I would agree with a combination of short, at least partial, breath holding followed by a regulated release is good. A crescendo, basically.

If you're sprinting, I guess all that has to happen much faster, so it might seem like simple breath holding and air blasting.
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Old 03-14-2009
gogglesnoseplugs gogglesnoseplugs is offline
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I have come to learn that when I hold my breath and only exhale just as I am getting my next breath, I feel more exhausted therefore cannot swim as long. I recognize that you pointed out that this is common for sprinting, but I used to do it all the time because of the lack of comfort in the water.

It has taken time and practice to get comfortable with constant exhalation, and in my personal opinion, it is the better of the two strategies for sake of energy. I truly believe that I was accumulating CO2 rather than replenishing 02 by holding my breath. Now that I continuously exhale, I feel I am totally replenishing my 02. I do not find swimming so exhausting in that regard, even though there are other personal issues I am facing.
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Old 03-15-2009
Grant Grant is offline
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[quote=Jamwhite;2213]
As a rule, from experience, I would never exhale forcefully before breathing because it causes me to really tense up. I only do this if I start to panic and need air immediately (or sometimes when I try to breath water). But on that same note, exhaling immediately seems like a waste of good oxygen, because once I finish exhaling, I MUST breath. It is extremely uncomfortable to remain exhaled.

I know the feeling (panic). Mostly I swim breathing every 2nd stroke but when I do play with for example every 6 strokes I trained myself to not get so O2 depleted that the panic arises. As mentioned by others as well the gradual exhaling has a relaxing effect which of course is beneficial.

Speaking only in regards to sprinting and using the breathing every six strokes pattern perhaps for the first part of the swim one could hold the breath and forcefully exhale (relaxing all the while) right before the head surfaces. Then as O2 debt increases begin the exhale earlier in the sequence, say starting the 5th stroke or whatever allows an efficient level of both gases (O2 and CO2).

I would imagine that a training effect would occur that may allow one to hold the breath comfortably and forcefully exhaling at the very end for longer and longer.

Am going to play with this this week at 50 and 100m distances and see what happens.

I say all this with the full knowledge that M. Phelp's coach says if breathing causes a slow down work on eleminating the errors that causes slowdown :o)

Thanks for the replies from all of you.
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Old 03-15-2009
shuumai shuumai is offline
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Here is a GoSwim video. Freestyle - Exhale Slowly: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZ9qgYvjRW0

Again, I see three possibilities. 1, hold the breath and exhale forcefully at the end. 2, steadily increase the rate at which the air is released. 3, release the air at the same rate the entire time. It seems that the middle option, steadily increasing the rate at which the air is released, makes the most sense.

Earlier I assumed that sprinting involved breathing every stroke cycle. I guess that's a lower level of sprinting since it actually involves breathing. hehe

I think Phelp's breathes every stroke cycle in all strokes, but he goes 100, 200, and 400 metres. (The other day, I was very happy just surviving sets of 100 yard repeats, breathing every cycle.)
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Old 03-15-2009
naj naj is offline
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When I was at the Open Water Swim yesterday, TI coach Leslie Thomas talked about taking six strokes before rolling to breathe. I've never done it before but now I'm wondering if slowly exhaling and saving more O2 for two more strokes might not be such a bad idea. I'll give it a go tomorrow when I go for my 2nd OW swim.
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  #8  
Old 08-10-2009
Nicodemus Nicodemus is offline
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Default The science

The biology is -
we only use a quarter of the oxygen we breathe. We inhale air with 20% O2, and exhale 15% O2 & 5% CO2.

The urge to breathe is triggered by the increased CO2 in the body - NOT be the diminishing oxygen. Exhaling gently reduces the CO2 levels slightly - so this is the way to increase the length of your breathing cycle - holding your breath is the worst thing you can do!

Another argument to support breath-holding is that (supposedly) it helps buoyancy. Personally I think this is a red herring. If you have good balance you don't need to hold your breath to stay afloat.
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