General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Swim Breathing Rss Feed  
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2013-08-28 11:16 AM


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Subject: Swim Breathing
Howdy. I am looking for some advice during the swim portion of an event. I've been an intermediate level swimmer for a while now, but the more I read and study on techniques to increase speed and lengthen endurance, I am realizing I need to re-train myself to breathe out under water to stabilize my body position more. I have always been prone to holding my breath under water. This change has left me short of breath with this new technique. My question is how to maintain an equal balance of breathing out to how much air I pull in. I breathe every 3 strokes, but I am struggling to understand how breathing out 2-3 seconds under water and only breathing in for a ¼ to ½ second equals out. I am left short of breath very quickly. I have tried learning to find the “pocket” to breathe from, but I am still not equaling out. Does anyone have any tips to help out with this?

I am ok with breathing every 2 strokes and breathing out immediately once my head goes under water, but I feel I sacrifice efficiency. Would a potential option be to hold my breath for the first stroke and then start breathing out the next 2? Any advice is welcome.


2013-08-28 11:22 AM
in reply to: jmcelliott

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Subject: RE: Swim Breathing

I'm the furthest from a swim expert, but I'd say trying to breath every third stroke out of the gate isn't helping the cause.  Heck, even after swimming for three years I get out of breath trying to breath every third stroke.  

You most certainly want to breath out under water, simply for the fact that if you don't you have to take the time to lift your head up and breath out and then breath back in.  You're much better off breathing out under water and spending the time with your mouth out of water to breath in.

Youtube is a great source for drills and determining how it should look.  If you have a chance to post a video of how you're swimming it would help a lot for advice on what to do different.

2013-08-28 11:32 AM
in reply to: jmcelliott

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Subject: RE: Swim Breathing
Why are you holding your breath? Do you hold your breath when you run? When you bike? Learn how to exhale under water. When swimming hard (almost always when racing) I breathe every 2 strokes, or every left handed stroke. Turn head to right when left arm is extended and breathe in. Exhale as soon a face is in the water and continue exhale until face is out of the water for next inhalation. Repeat. Every now and then I'll extend the exhale one or two strokes depending on conditions. When I work hard, I breathe more. It doesn't really matter if I'm in the water on the bike, or on the run. Seems to work pretty well for me.
2013-08-28 11:32 AM
in reply to: jmcelliott

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Subject: RE: Swim Breathing
Originally posted by jmcelliott

Howdy. I am looking for some advice during the swim portion of an event. I've been an intermediate level swimmer for a while now, but the more I read and study on techniques to increase speed and lengthen endurance, I am realizing I need to re-train myself to breathe out under water to stabilize my body position more. I have always been prone to holding my breath under water. This change has left me short of breath with this new technique. My question is how to maintain an equal balance of breathing out to how much air I pull in. I breathe every 3 strokes, but I am struggling to understand how breathing out 2-3 seconds under water and only breathing in for a ¼ to ½ second equals out. I am left short of breath very quickly. I have tried learning to find the “pocket” to breathe from, but I am still not equaling out. Does anyone have any tips to help out with this?

I am ok with breathing every 2 strokes and breathing out immediately once my head goes under water, but I feel I sacrifice efficiency. Would a potential option be to hold my breath for the first stroke and then start breathing out the next 2? Any advice is welcome.



Something I always tell new swimmers is that they need to get use to taking short breaths and not filling their belly with air. You won't get a deep enough breath to fill your belly with air. You take a quick breath, put your head in the water and let all the air out. Repeat. It's odd and not the same way you breathe with running or biking. I also always swim with my mouth open and there is usually water in my mouth at all times. But I don't swallow water. If you have to open/close your mouth each time you breathe, it takes more time.

2013-08-28 11:38 AM
in reply to: KSH

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Subject: RE: Swim Breathing

I'm far from an expert swimmer or coach so this is just anecdotal advice:

I also breath every 3rd stroke so I alternate left/right, this helps keep my form balanced.  After I inhale, I slowly exhale through my nose during the stroke.  Right before my mouth comes to the surface for an inhale I let out a big exhale from my mouth to clear a bubble.  When I inhale its a quick intake, there is likely to be some water in my mouth and it took some practice to not inhale the water but now it's second nature.

2013-08-28 11:45 AM
in reply to: MOlsen


5

Subject: RE: Swim Breathing
Originally posted by tuwood

I'm the furthest from a swim expert, but I'd say trying to breath every third stroke out of the gate isn't helping the cause. Heck, even after swimming for three years I get out of breath trying to breath every third stroke.

You most certainly want to breath out under water, simply for the fact that if you don't you have to take the time to lift your head up and breath out and then breath back in. You're much better off breathing out under water and spending the time with your mouth out of water to breath in.

Youtube is a great source for drills and determining how it should look. If you have a chance to post a video of how you're swimming it would help a lot for advice on what to do different.




Tony, I feel you may be right when it comes to starting with every 3 strokes. My main sets if I am doing a distance level training is 1500-2500 yards right now. This isn’t a problem if I hold my breath, breathe out quickly and breathe in at the same time. In most instances, I am starting my breathing out when I start to turn my head. I will keep practicing.

Originally posted by mrbbrad

Why are you holding your breath? Do you hold your breath when you run? When you bike? Learn how to exhale under water. When swimming hard (almost always when racing) I breathe every 2 strokes, or every left handed stroke. Turn head to right when left arm is extended and breathe in. Exhale as soon a face is in the water and continue exhale until face is out of the water for next inhalation. Repeat. Every now and then I'll extend the exhale one or two strokes depending on conditions. When I work hard, I breathe more. It doesn't really matter if I'm in the water on the bike, or on the run. Seems to work pretty well for me.


I will definitely take this into consideration and focus more on comfort at the moment.



Karen, can you elaborate on focusing short breaths a bit more? The ratio of time breathing out vs breathing in is still quite significant, so I am curious to know more about thinking along a short breath philosophy?


2013-08-28 11:51 AM
in reply to: MOlsen


5

Subject: RE: Swim Breathing
Originally posted by MOlsen

I'm far from an expert swimmer or coach so this is just anecdotal advice:

I also breath every 3rd stroke so I alternate left/right, this helps keep my form balanced.  After I inhale, I slowly exhale through my nose during the stroke.  Right before my mouth comes to the surface for an inhale I let out a big exhale from my mouth to clear a bubble.  When I inhale its a quick intake, there is likely to be some water in my mouth and it took some practice to not inhale the water but now it's second nature.




I have certainly been having some issues pulling in too much water when I inhale which may be part of my problem as well. Practice may just be the trick.
2013-08-28 12:31 PM
in reply to: MOlsen

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Subject: RE: Swim Breathing
Originally posted by MOlsen

.  After I inhale, I slowly exhale through my nose during the stroke.  Right before my mouth comes to the surface for an inhale I let out a big exhale from my mouth to clear a bubble.  When I inhale its a quick intake, there is likely to be some water in my mouth and it took some practice to not inhale the water but now it's second nature.




This is sound advice. One tip I found that compliments this is to humm as you let the air out of your nose. I breath every 2nd stroke and so my exhale under water sounds like:

mmmmMMMmmmmMMMM

The humming keeps the outward flow of air even and creates the room for a good efficient inward breath.

Also maybe add a drill where you breath every 4th stroke or even 5th. You might only make it 25 meters and then cool down with some easy breast stroke but the oxegen deprivation and recovery will help train a more comfortable feeling of your lungs being empty/deprived.
2013-08-28 7:37 PM
in reply to: jmcelliott

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Subject: RE: Swim Breathing
Originally posted by jmcelliott
Originally posted by tuwood

I'm the furthest from a swim expert, but I'd say trying to breath every third stroke out of the gate isn't helping the cause. Heck, even after swimming for three years I get out of breath trying to breath every third stroke.

You most certainly want to breath out under water, simply for the fact that if you don't you have to take the time to lift your head up and breath out and then breath back in. You're much better off breathing out under water and spending the time with your mouth out of water to breath in.

Youtube is a great source for drills and determining how it should look. If you have a chance to post a video of how you're swimming it would help a lot for advice on what to do different.

Tony, I feel you may be right when it comes to starting with every 3 strokes. My main sets if I am doing a distance level training is 1500-2500 yards right now. This isn’t a problem if I hold my breath, breathe out quickly and breathe in at the same time. In most instances, I am starting my breathing out when I start to turn my head. I will keep practicing.
Originally posted by mrbbrad Why are you holding your breath? Do you hold your breath when you run? When you bike? Learn how to exhale under water. When swimming hard (almost always when racing) I breathe every 2 strokes, or every left handed stroke. Turn head to right when left arm is extended and breathe in. Exhale as soon a face is in the water and continue exhale until face is out of the water for next inhalation. Repeat. Every now and then I'll extend the exhale one or two strokes depending on conditions. When I work hard, I breathe more. It doesn't really matter if I'm in the water on the bike, or on the run. Seems to work pretty well for me.
I will definitely take this into consideration and focus more on comfort at the moment. Karen, can you elaborate on focusing short breaths a bit more? The ratio of time breathing out vs breathing in is still quite significant, so I am curious to know more about thinking along a short breath philosophy?

When my wife first started swimming she would lift her head up and breath out as she was turning her head to the side.  She would then breath in and take the next stroke.  I video taped her under water so she could see what it was doing because every time she would pick your head up out of the water her feet would sink and act like a big ole water parachute.

If you grab a snorkel and try swimming a few laps I can almost guarantee that you will fly compared to your normal swim because your head will stay in the water and your feet won't drop.  If you look at the fast swimmers on youtube you'll notice that their body position from the top of their head all the way to their toes doesn't change, it just rotates left and right as if on a perfect axis through their center line.

The drill I taught my wife that helped her learn how to breath was the side kick drill.  
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mjZsk8L0M0

At first, just swim several laps leaving your face out of the water the whole time breathing normal switching sides on each end of the pool.  Once you are comfortable with your head mostly submerged and just your face barely out you can start to mix in rotating your head into the water to exhale.  At first, just breath out once under water and then come back up and breath two or three times normal and then do another one under water.  It doesn't take long to get very comfortable doing this and breathing in with your face out of the water and out with your face in the water every breath.

After practicing this for a while, start mixing in one stroke.  So breath in on one side, take one stroke while breathing out under water and then stop on the other side and breath normally.  Gradually speed it up and eventually you're breathing in on one side, taking a stroke while breathing out and then breathing in on the other side.

Ultimately I recommend knowing how to breath on both sides, but picking a side that seems more natural and just breathing on that side every stroke.

Hope this helps and good luck.  Also, welcome to BT.  

2013-08-30 12:26 PM
in reply to: tuwood


5

Subject: RE: Swim Breathing
Originally posted by tuwood

Originally posted by jmcelliott
Originally posted by tuwood

I'm the furthest from a swim expert, but I'd say trying to breath every third stroke out of the gate isn't helping the cause. Heck, even after swimming for three years I get out of breath trying to breath every third stroke.

You most certainly want to breath out under water, simply for the fact that if you don't you have to take the time to lift your head up and breath out and then breath back in. You're much better off breathing out under water and spending the time with your mouth out of water to breath in.

Youtube is a great source for drills and determining how it should look. If you have a chance to post a video of how you're swimming it would help a lot for advice on what to do different.

Tony, I feel you may be right when it comes to starting with every 3 strokes. My main sets if I am doing a distance level training is 1500-2500 yards right now. This isn’t a problem if I hold my breath, breathe out quickly and breathe in at the same time. In most instances, I am starting my breathing out when I start to turn my head. I will keep practicing.
Originally posted by mrbbrad Why are you holding your breath? Do you hold your breath when you run? When you bike? Learn how to exhale under water. When swimming hard (almost always when racing) I breathe every 2 strokes, or every left handed stroke. Turn head to right when left arm is extended and breathe in. Exhale as soon a face is in the water and continue exhale until face is out of the water for next inhalation. Repeat. Every now and then I'll extend the exhale one or two strokes depending on conditions. When I work hard, I breathe more. It doesn't really matter if I'm in the water on the bike, or on the run. Seems to work pretty well for me.
I will definitely take this into consideration and focus more on comfort at the moment. Karen, can you elaborate on focusing short breaths a bit more? The ratio of time breathing out vs breathing in is still quite significant, so I am curious to know more about thinking along a short breath philosophy?

When my wife first started swimming she would lift her head up and breath out as she was turning her head to the side.  She would then breath in and take the next stroke.  I video taped her under water so she could see what it was doing because every time she would pick your head up out of the water her feet would sink and act like a big ole water parachute.

If you grab a snorkel and try swimming a few laps I can almost guarantee that you will fly compared to your normal swim because your head will stay in the water and your feet won't drop.  If you look at the fast swimmers on youtube you'll notice that their body position from the top of their head all the way to their toes doesn't change, it just rotates left and right as if on a perfect axis through their center line.

The drill I taught my wife that helped her learn how to breath was the side kick drill.  
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mjZsk8L0M0

At first, just swim several laps leaving your face out of the water the whole time breathing normal switching sides on each end of the pool.  Once you are comfortable with your head mostly submerged and just your face barely out you can start to mix in rotating your head into the water to exhale.  At first, just breath out once under water and then come back up and breath two or three times normal and then do another one under water.  It doesn't take long to get very comfortable doing this and breathing in with your face out of the water and out with your face in the water every breath.

After practicing this for a while, start mixing in one stroke.  So breath in on one side, take one stroke while breathing out under water and then stop on the other side and breath normally.  Gradually speed it up and eventually you're breathing in on one side, taking a stroke while breathing out and then breathing in on the other side.

Ultimately I recommend knowing how to breath on both sides, but picking a side that seems more natural and just breathing on that side every stroke.

Hope this helps and good luck.  Also, welcome to BT.  




Thank you. I have a feeling BT will become my friend quickly. The act of swimming and breathing on each side has never been a concern for me. The reason I started researching more on technique was to increase my speed. I am wanting to get to a 1:20/100yd or faster split and I have been around 1:55 or so. This led to researching proper breathing techniques to keep my body more parallel and ways to improve my efficiency.

Over the last few swims, I have practiced varying levels of how quickly I push the air out of my lungs, head placement when I start to breathe (head tipped up a bit vs tucked closer to my chest, etc), and how frequently I breathe. After talking with a friend who swims collegiately, we decided that since I don't have the strongest leg kick that it would be best to tip my head back a bit before doing a body roll to breathe. This helped considerably to prevent water getting into my mouth. Secondly, I have changed my breathing to a 3-2-3-2 stroke count on both sides with a moderate breathe release when my head is under water. This is sufficient until my lung capacity increases and I am no longer having issues swimming the normal 1500-2500 yard straight sets. I have also naturally picked up the pace to a 1:45\100yd split at the moment.

Thank you all for your feedback.
2013-08-30 12:40 PM
in reply to: MOlsen

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Subject: RE: Swim Breathing
Originally posted by MOlsen

I'm far from an expert swimmer or coach so this is just anecdotal advice:

I also breath every 3rd stroke so I alternate left/right, this helps keep my form balanced.  After I inhale, I slowly exhale through my nose during the stroke.  Right before my mouth comes to the surface for an inhale I let out a big exhale from my mouth to clear a bubble.  When I inhale its a quick intake, there is likely to be some water in my mouth and it took some practice to not inhale the water but now it's second nature.




this^^^^

Do not get concerned about the issue of exhaling for 3 seconds and inhaling for 1/4-1/2 seconds........Not to bore you to tears with the entire physiolgy (i teach it) but inhaling and exhaling is about pressure gradients....inhalation diaphragm contracts decreases lung pressure vs, atmospheric pressure therefore inhale yada yada.......so follow this advice above and good luck


2013-08-30 2:56 PM
in reply to: jmcelliott

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Subject: RE: Swim Breathing
You can control how fast you inhale and exhale - why do you think you need the same time to inhale and exhale? You need to breathe in a controlled manner and get the rhythm, learn to exhale blowing bubbles under the water and inhale to the side. It is easier to learn breathing every other.

Inhale quickly, since you exhale underwater you can get double air in compared to if you try exhale and inhale over water. Don't breathe with your diaphragm, you can get a good fast breath of air if you breathe from the chest. Exhale slowly, you may exhale through the nose, that prevents you from getting water in the nose, it's also slower, but otherwise, do as you like.

So start breathing every other, to practice breathing to either side, just switch side every length. Once you've got this right - only then - can you consider breathing every 3, if you have trouble exhaling slowly, you can just do this stroke count (1-2-3): inhale-hold-exhale.


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