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  #1  
Old 06-16-2013
Talvi Talvi is offline
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Default Doomed - a heresy or a light at the end of the tunnel?

This comment, on one of Terry's blogs I found so demoralising. I wanted to share what emerged.
"Swimming 200 meters was so difficult and I got discouraged. .. I ordered your book and ... After a few weeks, I had a chance to swim at sea ... To my surprise, I could swim more than 1,000 meters without getting tired."
Why? Well I'd hoped for something like that too, not after a few weeks, but after a year, maybe to accomplish half of that say. Yet after hundreds of hours of study and practice I still have problems with making even 150m straight. My heart rate is generally below120bpm, my stroke is transformed, I've grasped the beginnings of the technical elements of TI: 2bk, one goggle under, patient lead, evf catch, hip drive rotation; but with no really significant impact. Today I watched a video of a newbie doing spear switch for the very first time. Not perfect perhaps, but breathing only every fourth stoke, he swam 25m looking as if he could go forever. Now if I could swim even like that I'd be content. Improvement would surely then be relatively easy.

At my pool I'd been admiring a middle aged woman's unhurried breastroke, when a young guy, a few strokes behind after her turn, got into the lane next to her and began his powerful and professional bobbing style. It took him ten lengths to catch her up, after which he stopped and got out. She continued! Last week a "rounded gent" in his late 50s, who alternates v slow sidestroke with breastroke, caught my attention. His breaststroke was incredible. He takes a stroke and face down simply glides forward. Just before he finally comes to a halt he raises his head, no bob, unhurriedly takes a breath and another stroke begins.

I posted here a survival drill. A form of the "Nicodemus bob" I thought. Doing it was "easy", but nonetheless I was rapidly out of breath. It seems to me a psychological thing, like the asthma I used to have when I was young, brought on by panic and creating a vicious circle of too much inhalation AND/OR too much exhalation that disrupts my natural reflexive autonomic breathing. I think it's the enforced pattern of breathing while swimming that causes me the problem, like the problem caused by trying to ignore an itch. I've found I can bring on the same breathless sensations simply by mimicking the breathing rythm of swimming while out walking.

For myself anyway it seems that technique comes second to finding a sense of relaxation (and pleasure) in immersion itself that can be extended. Up to now TI hasn't been the game changer I'd hoped. It's analysis of freestyle seems great, but there's a deeper aspects of mindfulness that swimming is demanding, and I am not making "head-way".

Just saying
.
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A psychological disorder is: "Any personal construction which is used repeatedly in spite of consistent invalidation."
~ George Kelly

"The water is your friend.....you don't have to fight with water, just share the same spirit as the water, and it will help you move."
~ Aleksandr Popov
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  #2  
Old 06-16-2013
Rhoda Rhoda is offline
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Have you posted in the O2 forum? If it's a breathing problem, you might get good advice there.
You could try breathing every stroke, or as often as you need to. Maybe use a snorkel for a few weeks to fade the memory of your breathing anxiety, then do that drill where you spear and immediately roll to breathe. If it's a mental block, just knowing that you can breathe any time you want to might help. Maybe try speeding up a bit, too. Going very slowly can sometimes lead to running out of air.
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  #3  
Old 06-16-2013
StuartK StuartK is offline
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Talvi, do I detect a depressed manatee? I took your advice regarding going a couple of steps backwards and think I maybe at last getting somewhere. As you say it's breathing that appears to be the main cause of the problem, provided you can get air then the swimming style is immaterial. I was watching a youngster about 7-8yrs his coach had left him to swim in one of the lanes so he could get his quarter mile badge, whilst she attended to others the other side of the pool so this kid !splashed and thrashed his way up and down the pool on his own for over dozen lengths after which the coach came back and told the lad to carry on as if he did another 12 lengths and he could get his half mile badge. So off he went no problem, bobbing about and weaving with a really ugly stroke, lifting his head well out of the water but breathing whenever he wanted end result - 12 more lengths coach says well done and kid not even panting, grins from ear to ear.
Ok if you've got the energy of an 8 year old but I'd of been worn out after about two lengths if I'd tried his style of swimming.
For the last couple of swims I've just been looking for the elusive relaxation, by swimming very slowly and rolling slowly to air even going over onto my back and steadying my breathing before rolling back to swim - relax, relax, slow, slow, no struggle.
I was hopeing for the mile, 64 lengths for my 64th birthday, then it was 65 by my 65th now it's 66 by my 66th I've got to get there soon or it will be too far to swim !
Hang in there, it will click (I hope).
Stuart.
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Old 06-16-2013
dgk2009 dgk2009 is offline
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In my experience with swimming all the drilling and practice,which I agree is part of it,will get you no where untill you are at ease in the water,I know because going on 4 years of struggle this is still my problem,but inch by inch I make small improvements,for some it comes fast,for others not so much,many in my place would have given up long ago,but I keep moving forward because one day the water will become my friend,and on that day I will rejoice,even if it takes my whole life,hang in there,it will come.
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Old 06-16-2013
Richardsk Richardsk is offline
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Enjoy the process and forget the goal.
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  #6  
Old 06-16-2013
CharlesCouturier CharlesCouturier is offline
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Talvi, I humbly believe that all you have to do, is to learn to swim as slow as you possibly can.

In itself this simple statement looks way too simplistic to be true, but it works.

What's difficult is to learn to slow down, with no fear of sinking down.

People try to learn to run, before they can walk.

If you need a hand on how to achieve this, just manifest your interest in this thread, and we'll begin the process. Ideally, you need a pace clock (stop watch), and if you had a Tempo Trainer, that'd be an awesome bonus.
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  #7  
Old 06-17-2013
Mike from NS Mike from NS is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dgk2009 View Post
In my experience with swimming all the drilling and practice,which I agree is part of it,will get you no where untill you are at ease in the water,I know because going on 4 years of struggle this is still my problem,but inch by inch I make small improvements,for some it comes fast,for others not so much,many in my place would have given up long ago,but I keep moving forward because one day the water will become my friend,and on that day I will rejoice,even if it takes my whole life,hang in there,it will come.
"At ease in the water", I think says it all. Trying to secure this ease is why I spend some of my swim time just playing. I go to the bottom (12ft deep) generally feet first ; but recently I swim down and touch my head on the bottom. One lady noted she saw this and asked if it was some sort of breath control drill. I told her that it was my way of convincing my self that I could just get there and survive the trip. It helps me become more at ease in the water. At other times I may just jump in vertically with legs together together and sink to sitting on the bottom ..... again just playing to become more comfortable and at ease. All else will follow --- I hope. I hope that the ease will cause breathing to just happen without a lot of timed thought; and to breath naturally, as Stuart says.

Now the regular pool has shut down for maintenance and the outdoor pool will open for the summer before the regular one re-opens. Bring on the warm weather !!!
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  #8  
Old 06-18-2013
WFEGb WFEGb is offline
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Hello Talvi,

first let me invite you and become the third donkey. (Maybe we're only two, because Swimust isn't one anymore...) That will help you sooner or later!

Maybe all coaches will get angry, but I'm still convinced, even TI has not resolved the breathing problem in general. Every one has to have the patience to focus here there anywhere or to focus not to focus on anything and give himself the individual time to let the pieces of the puzzle fall together. Swimust's donkey rules will help. But I never found a program of drills for 10, 16, 20, 50 or so weeks guaranteed to get your breathing puzzle to swim in an aerobic state. And that is the breakthrough.

(Some readers will get bored, wrote it sometimes here. But Cooper in the early 1970ies gave a program for jogging. Started by a 12min-test, gave a program for 10,12, or 16 weeks and after that time guaranteed to jogg a mile in 12min... It's quite boring if you're not a passionated jogger, but it works.) He also stated a similar program for swimming. This definetely does not work for freestyle. Here I'd wish TI (w)could log in...

Talvi, you're not alone. And be assured, if you got that fixed you'll soon find another very interesting Problem to be fixed in your swim.

Go on, stay with us and best regards,
Werner

PS: My matra: There's a long thread here "Getting out of breath", maybe you'll find some helpful hints even beside Terry's O2toH2O-DVD.
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  #9  
Old 06-18-2013
Talvi Talvi is offline
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Talvi
Default Breakthrough!!

First thanks to you all for your encouragement, suggestions, and tips, but even more for your care/concern. That was really lovely to come and find. And thanks Charles for your kind offer too. I'd read Rhoda's reply, but the others all arrived after I'd logged off so I've only just read them. And yes Stuart, I was really a very depressed manatee yesterday. But I've had a breakthrough. Yaaay ! :)

Yesterday I got in, swam 250m with no breathlessness at all, and continued to merilly swim 150-250m sets continuously for about 80 mins. That probably doesn't sound like such a big deal but it is a step-change for me. The only thing that broke it into sets was feeling my physical tiredness making my movements exponentially sloppy. But even then I only paused momentarily. It was addictive. I just HAD to start swimming again. It felt like the best way to relax and get my breath, so how weird is that !?!??! I took only one real break, early on, after about 500m total when I just sat on the bench for 3 or 4 mins, feeling a bit shell shocked and, well, trying to figure out how I felt!

What changed was a focus on ... NOT-breathing! Which may take some explanation!

Brief version ...

The psychological issue in the breathing/breathlessness problem is to do with the functioning of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The key for me was finding a way to trust that (rather amazing) ANS to do what it does brilliantly about 17,000 times a day, that is when I don't think I know better, butt in, and right royally screw things up ! Instead of concerning myself with taking a breath I learned instead how to allow the breath to enter. I decided to put all my trust in my ANS, and let "it" determine how big or how small each breath in or out would be, whenever, however. After all, our ANS is perfectly well aware of when breathing is possible as well as how much and when. It's just hard to trust in it while underwater. It's like going to sleep at night, a little leap of faith, and something we learn best when small, but unless we've got a medical condition, adults don't suffocate in their pillows at night, much less hyperventilate or foget to breathe, so there really is no problem!

So this is the long story, which may help explain wtf I'm rambling on about :)

I had intended to go to the pool yesterday, but it really did feel hopeless. I was on the verge of giving up. Of course I'd go on swimming as I always have, from time to time, but this seemed like it was one thing I was going to have to let go. Maybe that was the life lesson it had for me. I knew it was only psychological, but so what.

During the morning I'd read a blog post about the "pee shiver" that made me laugh, and the author's maverick idea about the role of the ANS in it got me thinking. Not something for the pool, but it did make me think about long summer saunas in the forest lakes here, swimming/floating around between visits, the relaxation and feeling of the water, the pleasure of that coldness and the lazy purposelessness of moving through it. Ten years ago that was the genesis of the first step-change in my swimming. What a contrast that feeling was to now, when I found myself struggling with the sheer futility of going to the pool again ! Just considering the prospect I could feel that breathlessnes in me. I lay down on the bed, frustrated, and aware of the tension in my "solar plexus". It's where chronic asthmatics develop a deep pit (not that my own asthma was anything more than a childhood thing).

A year ago I'd started experimenting with a meditation using my heartbeat as the focus. I had chosen that as I felt I knew the problems the more normal breathing focus would give rise to. But now I focused on just that, on my breathing, with the very centre of that focus on my solar plexus. Almost immediately, the problems began to grow. I / my breathing became confused and erratic. I couldn't decide whether breathing more deeply or more shallowly, more rapidly or more slowly improved things. The more I tried the worse it seemed to get and, wose still, after a while I felt I couldn't stop. I was lying flat in my back, as relaxed as could be and having problems breathing. Oddly it didn't occur to me to give up. There was a sense of panic. I had to fix this now, to relax, to get a natural rythm back. There was nowhere to go, It was as if I had taken over control of something that I shouldn't have and now couldn't give it back. And then the blindingly obvious hit me:- my body, or that bit of my ANS that manages my breathing knew what to do. I had obliged it to take a back seat, and now like a worker, interrupted by a supercilously arrogant and ignorant boss, it was standing back, waiting, as if to say: "Ok hotshot, you know best, go for it!".

If you've even been in that situation you'll know the only way out is to eat humble pie, to step aside, watch and learn. Workers are incredibly forgiving of management idiocy. So that's what I did, and, d'Oh!, it worked.

The detail is a bit hard to describe. I had to take a back seat, continuously holding back from trying, focusing on relaxing, and letting go, seeking to match and support what my ANS was trying. It was like having two left feet and learning to dance with a gracious, patient and very talented partner. When I finally looked at my watch it was some 90mins later, and I'd learned something.

Even so, I went to the pool, on auto-pilot. I didn't and don't really know how or why I got out the door. My mood, on the bus was a vacant grey and that continued into the showers. It seemed like every week for the last year or more I've excitedly thought "Ahah,THAT's IT!", only to find myself in the pool exploring yet another interesting avenue that led nowhere far.

Thinking again about sauna, I decided that's where I'd start. Why bother to hurry? It was going to be another disappointment. So I just sat there in the pool's sauna, for 15 mins or so, until I was heated through but not beginning to tire. Then I dragged myself off to the pool.

It did feel good, dropping into the water, and I started, as normal, pushing gently off from the wall and enjoying that sense of lying on top of the water. This time though, as I had decided I just let breaths come and go, centreing all my effort on relaxing my solar plexus and accepting what happened. I let my ANS do its thing, trusted it, and, astonishingly (?!), it worked.

So that's it :) Now I just hope I don't lose it! It was great finally to be able to play with technique, breathing to one side or another, mixing things up, during laps even, slowing down, speeding up, lengthening stroke or shortening it. It was as if I had a built in snorkel ! So Stuart, my dear fellow manatee wannabe, I offer this idea of dryland practice breathing, focusing on your solar plexus, learning to feel for and trustingly follow wherever your ANS leads. It really worked for me, and has joined up a lot of the dots, those briefer flashes in practice where something seemed to click for a while.

I hope this tome helps, and thanks again for all your kind support. It is sincerely appreciated. My apologies for the length of this, but I hope you'll indulge me. This has been such a great thing for me I am grinning, 24 hrs later, and looking forward to a few days celebrating Juhannus by and in the forest lakes :)
__________________
A psychological disorder is: "Any personal construction which is used repeatedly in spite of consistent invalidation."
~ George Kelly

"The water is your friend.....you don't have to fight with water, just share the same spirit as the water, and it will help you move."
~ Aleksandr Popov
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  #10  
Old 06-17-2013
andyinnorway andyinnorway is offline
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Talvi,

2 little bits of advice,

1. the first couple of times you swim 400m straight it can feel like a lung buster, but once you've done it, the mile comes very quickly. You need to just achieve it, forget technique just focus on breathing management. If you start to feel out of breath, slow down, even to the point of feeling nearly vertical, just keep going.

2. you already are using a great tip. Get used to walking or jogging with a swim breathing pattern. I find if I hold my breath even slightly then I get gassed, you need to eliminate the pause between inhalation starting, and exhalation beginning. If you can get it right running or walking whilst 'following the swim rules' then it will get much easier in the pool.

Breathing does come last and for me, breathing comfort has a direct relationship with total metres swum as a swimmer. I did my first olympic distance triathlon yesterday and noticed for the first time that if I caught a waveful of water and missed a breath it wasn't as painful as it used to be to just relax and keep pushing bubbles out until the next stroke.
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