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debashis
July 18th, 2008, 11:44 AM
i know there has been a number of posts/threads on this topic and i did search the archives, but i still wanted to post this thread. ok, so i've been trying to learn freestyle since 2005, and i still haven't got the breathing right. this has been really frustrating for me. i practice almost every day on a pool that is about 5' 5'' deep at one end. i have done a lot of research-hours of youtubing and checking out swimfast dvds have resulted in nothing! i've invested about $200 into private lessons, with no significant output! my goal is very simple-to swim freestyle laps in a 25 yard pool; is that asking for too much? i'm not interested in the other difficult strokes! i think my problem lies in the fact that i don't breathe out air completely before breathing in! are there any drills to work on that? also, some swimmers say that breath out through your nose, and some say through your mouth-i'm confused! if anyone can help me out, i'd really appreciate it! i want to learn this thing, and as you can see, i don't want to give up! TIA!

pwolf66
July 18th, 2008, 12:15 PM
Welcome to the forum!!!


As for breathing, what is the exact issue you are having? And if possible, do you have a camera that can take video? If so get a friend to video you while you are swimming and post that on You tube. I have found that posting video on youtube then putting a link here is one of the fastest ways to get an accurate diagnosis of the issue(s) and there are many knowledgable folks here who are more than willing to provide positive feedback and recommendations.

For me, I breath slowly out my nose so it looks like I have a small stream of bubbles leaving my nostrils. It is a relaxed exhalation as I do not try to force air out my nose. I also concentrate on starting my rotation to breathe as my opposite hand enters the water and I return my head to neutral position as my arm reaches full extension and I start my pull. I also concentrate on breathing 'one eyed', what I mean is that I try to rotate my head to the left (I breathe uni-laterally) just far enough that only my left eye is out of the water.

Post that video and it may surprise you that what you thought was a breathing problem way turn out to be something else.

Paul

debashis
July 18th, 2008, 01:02 PM
Welcome to the forum!!!


As for breathing, what is the exact issue you are having? And if possible, do you have a camera that can take video? If so get a friend to video you while you are swimming and post that on You tube. I have found that posting video on youtube then putting a link here is one of the fastest ways to get an accurate diagnosis of the issue(s) and there are many knowledgable folks here who are more than willing to provide positive feedback and recommendations.

For me, I breath slowly out my nose so it looks like I have a small stream of bubbles leaving my nostrils. It is a relaxed exhalation as I do not try to force air out my nose. I also concentrate on starting my rotation to breathe as my opposite hand enters the water and I return my head to neutral position as my arm reaches full extension and I start my pull. I also concentrate on breathing 'one eyed', what I mean is that I try to rotate my head to the left (I breathe uni-laterally) just far enough that only my left eye is out of the water.

Post that video and it may surprise you that what you thought was a breathing problem way turn out to be something else.

Paul

thanks a lot for a prompt response on a topic that has been belabored a lot here! i've heard about the one-eyed breathing; lindsay benko on her freestyle dvd had mentioned about that one-goggle breathing technique with a twisted mouth!
i'll try to get the video of my action and then go from there! i don't know why i run out of breath after a few strokes, maybe not proper inhaling or complete exhaling!

CaliSwimmer
July 18th, 2008, 02:41 PM
i don't know why i run out of breath after a few strokes, maybe not proper inhaling or complete exhaling!

I don't know if this, especially the drill at the end, would help you...
------

Start by Taking a Breather

Let's back up. Before we talk about technique, let's start where most problems begin in the water: breathing. When you're swimming freestyle, it's critical to exhale when your face is in the water so you are able to take a full breath when you roll to the side.

However, because they can't relax in the water, many swimmers hold their breath or only partially exhale, which subsequently prevents them from taking in a complete lungful of air. Invariably, these swimmers need to breathe every stroke and usually go hypoxic after a short swim, not from the effort but merely from lack of oxygen.

Prescription: Always focus on breathing while warming up and cooling down. This is the perfect time to smooth out your breathing and relax in preparation for the technique work and main set to follow.

Another useful exercise is to take five breaths on each side at the edge of the pool. If you are breathing to your left, place your right arm on the wall and rotate to the side, exhaling while your face is in the water and inhaling when you turn to breathe. This is not a physically demanding drill, but it helps to reinforce rhythm and relaxation.

http://www.active.com/swimming/Articles/Common_freestyle_flaws_and_how_to_fix_them.htm

debashis
July 18th, 2008, 04:03 PM
I don't know if this, especially the drill at the end, would help you...
------

http://www.active.com/swimming/Articles/Common_freestyle_flaws_and_how_to_fix_them.htm

sweet! thanks! i'll try it out tonight! i just got back from practice and i think where i'm going wrong is that when i rotate for breathing in, i'm also gulping water, which is messing things up! it's not that i'm not inhaling at all, just that when i close my mouth after inhaling, i'm taking in water!

3strokes
July 18th, 2008, 04:23 PM
i know there has been a number of posts/threads on this topic and i did search the archives, but i still wanted to post this thread. ok, so i've been trying to learn freestyle since 2005, and i still haven't got the breathing right. this has been really frustrating for me. i practice almost every day on a pool that is about 5' 5'' deep at one end. i have done a lot of research-hours of youtubing and checking out swimfast dvds have resulted in nothing! i've invested about $200 into private lessons, with no significant output! my goal is very simple-to swim freestyle laps in a 25 yard pool; is that asking for too much? i'm not interested in the other difficult strokes! i think my problem lies in the fact that i don't breathe out air completely before breathing in! are there any drills to work on that? also, some swimmers say that breath out through your nose, and some say through your mouth-i'm confused! if anyone can help me out, i'd really appreciate it! i want to learn this thing, and as you can see, i don't want to give up! TIA!

Hi
After reading your post and the various responses, I'm under the impression that you do not exhale while your face is underwater but you probably exhale as you turn your face out of the water and then try to inhale both while your face. If that is the case, concentrate on exhaling (out of mouth and/or nose) while your face is underwater; this way when you turn (body rotation and a slight twist of the neck) the mere action of opening your mouth will cause an easy inhalation.
I had this problem 45+ years ago and didn't know I was doing this. Until, one day, I was obliged to swim extremely slowly. It was so slow that, involuntarily I started exhaling in the water. I had never swum more than 100m (LCM) before. That day I believe I did 2000m+

Good luck

debashis
July 18th, 2008, 08:04 PM
Hi
After reading your post and the various responses, I'm under the impression that you do not exhale while your face is underwater but you probably exhale as you turn your face out of the water and then try to inhale both while your face. If that is the case, concentrate on exhaling (out of mouth and/or nose) while your face is underwater; this way when you turn (body rotation and a slight twist of the neck) the mere action of opening your mouth will cause an easy inhalation.
I had this problem 45+ years ago and didn't know I was doing this. Until, one day, I was obliged to swim extremely slowly. It was so slow that, involuntarily I started exhaling in the water. I had never swum more than 100m (LCM) before. That day I believe I did 2000m+

Good luck

thanks, and i've heard about this as well. of all the instructors i've had over the past few years, i remember one of them telling me that if you blow out all the air, the moment you rotate and your mouth comes out of the water, you take in air spontaneously-it's not something that you do, it just happens! see, i think my problem out here is too much theory and no practice!! i know everything but i just don't end up utilizing/implementing those things!

CaliSwimmer
July 18th, 2008, 08:12 PM
thanks, and i've heard about this as well. of all the instructors i've had over the past few years, i remember one of them telling me that if you blow out all the air, the moment you rotate and your mouth comes out of the water, you take in air spontaneously-it's not something that you do, it just happens! see, i think my problem out here is too much theory and no practice!! i know everything but i just don't end up utilizing/implementing those things!

Well, practice is really the key, and feeling comfortable in the water. How often do you swim?

ViveBene
July 18th, 2008, 09:32 PM
In addition to how much do you swim and more generally how comfortable you are in water, the question in my mind is body position and body balance. Possibly the breathing problems don't originate in the breathing itself but in some other part of biomechanics.

Regards, VB

geochuck
July 18th, 2008, 09:46 PM
My friend if you don't breathe out underwater you will not be able to breathe in when your face is out of the water. We do not exhale completely, if you do you will wanting to gulp in air. While you are extending the opposite arm forward you breathe in on the opposite side of your extended arm.

I also notice that you first said you don't breathe out completely, I would say don't breathe out completely.

debashis
July 19th, 2008, 03:18 AM
Well, practice is really the key, and feeling comfortable in the water. How often do you swim?

thanks! i try to swim every day for all five weekdays, and about getting comfortable in the water, i think that needs to be worked on as well. i'm comfortable when i'm in the shallow pool, i'm not relatively that comfortable when i'm treading water in a deep pool!

debashis
July 19th, 2008, 03:25 AM
In addition to how much do you swim and more generally how comfortable you are in water, the question in my mind is body position and body balance. Possibly the breathing problems don't originate in the breathing itself but in some other part of biomechanics.

Regards, VB
thanks for the response. i've never had any of my instructors complain about my body position and balance-water level touches my hairline, so i'm looking down at the bottom of the pool and not ahead, about 45 degrees rotation about my longitudinal axis, kicks originate from the hips and knees bend for a six-beat kick. one of them had mentioned about my reach for the extended arm ahead, and i've fixed that since then.

CaliSwimmer
July 19th, 2008, 04:44 PM
thanks for the response. i've never had any of my instructors complain about my body position and balance-water level touches my hairline, so i'm looking down at the bottom of the pool and not ahead, about 45 degrees rotation about my longitudinal axis, kicks originate from the hips and knees bend for a six-beat kick. one of them had mentioned about my reach for the extended arm ahead, and i've fixed that since then.

Well, I think the most efficient way to get real help on this board is to post up a video of yourself on Youtube; somebody will likely be able to diagnose the real problem with your breathing in short order after seeing it. It certainly sounds like you are swimming often enough and know what you are supposed to be doing.

Allen Stark
July 19th, 2008, 06:30 PM
I agree a video would help.Maybe you are just thinking too much.Get a center mount snorkel and swim some without worrying about how you breath and then when you feel relaxed try again.

pwolf66
July 19th, 2008, 06:45 PM
[quote=debashis;141920]thanks for the response. i've never had any of my instructors complain about my body position and balance-water level touches my hairline, so i'm looking down at the bottom of the pool and not ahead, about 45 degrees rotation about my longitudinal axis, [quote]

Actually, that does not sound like proper head position. It sounds like the head position that was taught about 30 years ago. Where you are looking forward and down. Instead keep your head in a neutral position with the water level bisecting your head at the crown.

But as others have said, without actually seeing what is happening, the best we can do is offer advice.

Paul

Sylvia
July 20th, 2008, 07:53 PM
I agree with the other posters. It sounds like you perhaps didn't learn to swim until you were an adult? Often, when one takes lessons as a child, some of this comes naturally. I think the difference is that children don't think so much. This reminds me of when I got a new bike with lots of gears, and I became obsessed wtih how to shift and when to shift. Just lots of practice helped.

What confuses me is you mentioning a six beat kick? What is that?

debashis
July 20th, 2008, 08:13 PM
I agree with the other posters. It sounds like you perhaps didn't learn to swim until you were an adult? Often, when one takes lessons as a child, some of this comes naturally. I think the difference is that children don't think so much. This reminds me of when I got a new bike with lots of gears, and I became obsessed wtih how to shift and when to shift. Just lots of practice helped.

What confuses me is you mentioning a six beat kick? What is that?

you are right! i learnt it when i was 24-25!...that's one thing that i've always regretted, not learning it as a kid! 6 beat kick is something that i learnt from lindsay benko's swimfast dvd...mostl of the time i'm kicking like that, but sometimes the count drops!

ViveBene
July 20th, 2008, 09:06 PM
What confuses me is you mentioning a six beat kick? What is that?

It's a fast flutter kick, quite common. Has different uses. If you just tell your legs to pick up the pace a bit, they will (most likely) fall into the six-beat kick right away.

"debashis," one thing that has stood me in good stead was me mum instructing me, around age 2, to put my head under the bathwater and blow bubbles when I importuned her to teach me how to swim. So maybe just playing around with exhaling underwater would help. Did you bob for apples?

I just got Lindsay Benko's DVD. I like it, but I must practice the stroke differently. She has a mastery, and a shoulder mobility, I will never have. Going for the form without the biomechanics to support it won't help me a whit.

Regards, VB

taruky
August 5th, 2008, 11:22 PM
I'd like to revisit this thread if I may, because I am having a very similar problem to that of the original poster. I'm getting worn out very quickly. I definitely am exhaling underwater, through both my mouth and nose, and am doing nothing but taking a breath when my head exits the water. However, I find myself suddenly hungry for air if I do 3 or 4 strokes under water, and at the end of 50 m I am spent (even if I breathe every 2nd stroke). I also find myself wheezing. I don't believe it's asthma because I really don't have any associated cough (although I suppose a pulmonary function test might be a good idea). Of note, I am in good shape and don't have this problem running. Anyhow, I've been working with a swimmer's snorkel and still find myself exhausted, needing a rest every 50. My questions are as follows;

1. Has anyone else experienced that sense of wheezing and/or upper airway obstruction, especially people just starting to train seriously? Did it resolve with time?

2. Is this perhaps a CO2 tolerance issue that might be helped by using the snorkel regularly?

3. When my stroke mechanics stunk in the past I was much more comfortable and relaxed swimming. Now with the good extension and high elbow catch my endurance is much less although my stroke distance and speed are infinitely better. Has anyone else gone from a comfortable swimmer with bad mechanics to a better swimmer with less endurance like me? Is it just a matter of pushing myself harder and the rest will come?

geochuck
August 5th, 2008, 11:59 PM
I think you must be trying to swim over the top of the water. Let the water do its work it is very hard if you swim too high in the water. The water pushes you to the surface so let it help you. If you are using proper technique it should be easier. Slow down the whole thing will come together if you relax.

You should exhale underwater, do not inhale underwater?

USMSarah
August 6th, 2008, 12:23 AM
Definitely start training yourself to relax more in the pool. You are thinking way too much about it.

The one drill that I feel will help you breathe better is a simple one we all do once in a while... it's the six kicks and pull drill. Take one freestyle stroke and then kick 6 times - while you are kicking, you will be on your side and you can put your head out of the water to breathe everytime you do a stroke (one arm is extended out in front and the other will be by your hip while you kick - you will obviously breathe to the side that your arm is by your hip). Take it slow, feel the water and calm down. Put some fins on if you have a weak kick and need some more power or leverage. It will come naturally for you in time. If you are still having trouble after this, I'd just switch to backstroke.

;)

taruky
August 6th, 2008, 12:58 AM
I think you must be trying to swim over the top of the water. Let the water do its work it is very hard if you swim too high in the water. The water pushes you to the surface so let it help you. If you are using proper technique it should be easier. Slow down the whole thing will come together if you relax.

You should exhale underwater, do not inhale underwater?
LOL, I corrected it. Would have made it a simple solution, though. Inhale out of water.

bud
August 6th, 2008, 01:09 PM
... Has anyone else experienced that sense of wheezing and/or upper airway obstruction....
Is it possible you are having an allergic reaction to chemicals in the water?

Chlorine treatment can give off a significant amount of fumes, which can be quite noticeable in an indoor facility.

If you are open water (OW) swimming then you may still have a reaction. I have a friend who has difficulty with reactions to the water with even spring fed pools.

...

Willow
August 6th, 2008, 02:43 PM
I have had this problem, basically hyperventilating, to the point where I feared I had a heart defect! I'd not breathe out fully and wind up winded, hanging off the wall gasping after just one length. I have solved it by practicing sets of bobs before each swim, just dipping and blowing bubbles out my nose, fully exhaling through my nose and inhaling through my mouth when I pop up, until I have a nice easy relaxed rhythm, then I do breaststroke laps. I find that breaststroke is a very organic stroke that is an easy intro to relaxed rhythmic breathing. Then I move on to other strokes. This was how I have worked out my problem of holding my breath, not breathing out fully, fighting the urge to gasp underwater and winding up in an oxygen deficit after a ridiculously brief effort. I'm still working on this. During my swim I still catch myself breath-holding, and I still have to do a few sets of bobs to get back to a calm pattern of breathing fully out underwater and fully in over water.

LindsayNB
August 6th, 2008, 09:12 PM
Two possibilities come to mind:
1) you say your speed is infinitely better. Swimming infinitely fast will tend to wind you. :D
2) swimming with better technique can be like riding a bike in higher gear in that if you swim with a dropped elbow it takes very little effort to pull your arms through the water (of course you won't swim very fast) which is like spinning in a low gear in cycling. Also, some people, in an attempt at lowering their stroke count will go to a very catchup-like stroke and either lose speed between pulls, requiring a high effort stroke to regain it again, or kick hard to maintain speed, either of which will tend to wind you.

You could experiment with swimming slower, swimming with a pull buoy, and kicking to try to isolate what is winding you. If you can swim your old bad style without getting winded then probably it isn't a pool chemical problem.

It would be good to tell us your time per fifty for your old stroke and for your new stroke.

taruky
August 6th, 2008, 11:17 PM
Two possibilities come to mind:
1) you say your speed is infinitely better. Swimming infinitely fast will tend to wind you. :D
2) swimming with better technique can be like riding a bike in higher gear in that if you swim with a dropped elbow it takes very little effort to pull your arms through the water (of course you won't swim very fast) which is like spinning in a low gear in cycling. Also, some people, in an attempt at lowering their stroke count will go to a very catchup-like stroke and either lose speed between pulls, requiring a high effort stroke to regain it again, or kick hard to maintain speed, either of which will tend to wind you.

You could experiment with swimming slower, swimming with a pull buoy, and kicking to try to isolate what is winding you. If you can swim your old bad style without getting winded then probably it isn't a pool chemical problem.

It would be good to tell us your time per fifty for your old stroke and for your new stroke.

My speed is infinitely faster, not fast, lol. What I mean is that my stroke distance is much better and my efficiency is much better. Just like you said, when I had a dropped elbow before my arms easily slipped through the water, whereas on every stroke now I feel the recruitment of my lats and triceps like I'm lifting weights.

I never timed my old stroke 50, but I'm sure it was probably around 70-80 seconds at a relaxed pace. On a relaxed (relatively) 25 meters now I average about 25 seconds, on a sprint I've reached 16 sec (both values off the wall with a small push, not diving). I did a relaxed 50 meters today which took me about 55 seconds, and I was still catching my breath at the end. When I say relaxed now, what I mean is low stroke rate and not kicking hard. I'm not sure I even know how to relax my arms anymore, I'm now conditioned to feel that water resistance against my forearm and really pull myself over it. I'm sure the idea with the vertical forearm is to hold the water and propel yourself over with the kick and rotation. I rotate OK, but my kick timing and rhythm are so bad I think I'm depending way to much on my upper body. That could be what's wearing me out, 25 meters is literally like doing 20 reps on a weight machine.

I bought a pair of zoomers and a Finis snorkel. and have been doing kicking drills like Ande suggested. My kick is pretty weak, so I'm hoping to both strengthen it and achieve coordination of kick and arm stroke. I've scoured youtube video to help with kick coordination to no avail.

Incidentally I did take a couple puffs of Albuterol prior to swimming today and it definitely helped somewhat, but I think there's still elements of poor breathing technique and lack of rhythm.

LindsayNB
August 9th, 2008, 05:07 PM
Just because you are anchoring your arms doesn't mean you have to apply a lot of force. If I were you I would spend some time learning to swim with the right positioning and technique but applying almost no force - just practicing going through the correct motions. If you have good balance you should be able to do it completely relaxed with very little expenditure of energy. This totally relaxed approach may also help you integrate the various elements of your stroke as any time you find yourself having to exert force you know it is because you are compensating for some flaw.

Video of your stroke would be very helpful.

taruky
August 9th, 2008, 06:54 PM
I will get someone to videotape me in the next few days, thanks.