I am a triathlon swim coach helping swim weak and time-starved triathlete revamp their swimming. I am the head coach of SwimFast Dubai and creator of ICanSwimFast.com, which helps triathletes like you develop efficient technique, build better endurance and grow unshakable open water confidence! You can read my free detailed guide: The Fundamentals of Triathlon Swimming here [http://icanswimfast.com/fundamentals] or connect with me through Instagram, @ICSwimFast [https://www.instagram.com/icswimfast]
Swimming Without Gasping
Getting to the Root Cause of Your Breathlessness
Put an end to your extreme urge to breathe and start building your swim endurance with these simple solutions to try in your next workout.
You have the endurance to run or ride for hours on end, but you're desperately gasping for air after one lap in the pool?
You know you need to build your swim endurance to get through race day. But you're stuck asking; "If I can’t swim continuously without stopping, how do I build up my swim fitness?"
I regularly talk to beginner triathletes about this problem. Most of them tell me breathing is the number one reason they can’t swim further without stopping.
“I have decent speed” they say... “but I can't maintain it and find myself becoming breathless, I get to the wall and need 10-30 seconds to recover.”
Over the years I’ve discovered three root causes stopping you from getting into an effortless groove like you do on the bike and run.
Today I want to break each of them down. Then I want to give you simple solutions you can work into your next swim practice to help you overcome them. Let’s get you breathing easier in the water!
The Three Root Causes of Breathlessness
1. Fear & Anxiety
Triathletes with the biggest breathing struggles either;
Have gone through a traumatic experience in water at some point in their lives.
Haven't spent much time in the water.
If that’s you, your body and brain will be in a heightened state of stress every time you get into water.
Firstly, recognize that it’s ok. The stress, fear and anxiety are protection mechanisms designed to keep you alive. It’s normal to feel uncomfortable and scared when you can’t breathe with your face submerged.
Next, let me reassure you. It is possible to learn how to completely relax and get comfortable in the water. When you learn to develop a positive association with the water you will start to breathe easy.
Your goal is to associate the water as something that is fun enjoyable as opposed to a threat to your life. This change will happen naturally as you have more positive experiences in the water.
Instead of only ever getting into the water to train for your race, spend some time playing in it. Go for a ride down the slide, jump off the diving board, play marco polo or tag with your kids… Get in and play. The more fun you have in the water, the less of a threat it will pose.
2. Work with a swim coach
Aside from directing you on technique, a good coach will structure your swim sessions in a way that will allow you to experience small quick wins. As the quick wins stack up, your confidence will grow. As your confidence grows, your fear will shrink.
Get in and play. The more fun you have in the water, the less of a threat it will pose.
2. Poor Balance and Alignment
You may not recognize this immediately but your sinking legs have a big impact on your ability to breathe easy.
When your hips and legs sink down you have to lift your head up high for the breath.
When your hips are sunk low you have to lift your head high to catch a breath.
To get in a good breath you need to get your head up high enough for your mouth to clear the surface of the water. If you aren’t able to lift your head high enough you will miss the breath.
Getting your body aligned and floating up on the surface of the water fixes this.
When you align your body, you only need to turn your head slightly to get your breath in. It’s easier for your mouth to clear the surface of the water when your head, hips and heels are lined up on the surface.
*Breathing is much easier when your head, hips and heels are aligned, floating up on the surface of the water.
Improve your balance and alignment by practicing the Balance Drill. This drill will help get your head inline with your spine. It will teach you how to tighten up your core and make your kick a little more effective in your stroke.
*If you find the Balance Drill challenging, put on your fins or a center mounted snorkel. These tools will help you experience what good alignment feels like. As your awareness improves, begin to practice without the tools
3. Your Pacing is Incorrect
No fear and good alignment? Then your breathing problems are likely caused by how fast you are swimming.
Trying to swim too fast for the distance will leave even the best swimmers out of breath.
Think about your 400m race pace and your marathon pace. Are you trying to swim at your 400m pace and hoping you’ll last for the length of a marathon?
The faster you swim the more demand your body has for oxygen. Slowing your pace down will lessen that demand. This will allow you to swim longer distances without needing to stop.
Swimming slow is not be the ultimate goal. But as you've probably discovered, you can’t build endurance when you need to stop every lap to catch your breath! When you slow down you will learn that you can build speed off your new found endurance.
Force yourself to swim slow. As slow as you can without sinking! Forget your watch and how long it takes you to swim a lap. Put no more effort into it than you would an easy jog.
If you feel like you can’t slow down without the risk of sinking, then you need to spend more time doing the Balance Drill. The Balance Drill will teach you to float with less effort which will allow you to swim slower
Which of the three root causes are responsible for your breathlessness? Once you know the answer you'll be better positioned to fix the problem.
When you learn to:
Fix your balance and alignment
Develop a positive association with the water
You'll find breathing becomes much easier. You'll begin to feel in control of how breathe and you'll start to swim further, building up your endurance, and be
How to breathe while Swimming, Head Position in the Water
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