PDA

View Full Version : Puzzled and fatigued



YudyW
November 26th, 2008, 12:16 PM
Been swimming for about 3 months (always 'swam' but never any real extended period for fitness until now). Started bilateral breathing about 2 months ago, basically natural to me now. Also began lessons about 1.5 months ago (instructor is WSI and nationally ranked member of local college team).

At beginning, 25m of crawl was killing me. Took close to 2 months to get comfortable with 50m. Can now almost do 75m comfortably (in all cases, a break of about 15-20 seconds is all I need to continue).

Based upon instructor's comments:
- definitely exhaling in water
- stroke is OK, but head position is too high out of water (not tucked down enough)
- kick is lousy-- too fast and shallow, also tend to shift to a scissor kick as I get tired

This morning during a lesson, he asked me to freestyle 6 laps and after 4 I was blown-- took a 10 second breather before starting 5th lap and all semblance of technique was gone-- same for 6th lap.

While I am making some progress, it seems that each additional (continuous) lap is taking a month-- is this normal? I am probably spending a bit too much time recovering at the wall during my workouts, but not all THAT long.

What seems to happen is I begin to have trouble breathing-- at beginning I'm nice and relaxed, nice shallow relaxed breath, slow exhale in water (was exhaling through mouth, instructor told me to switch to nose, and am doing so now). At about 50m, breathing becomes deeper and less relaxed; by 67m, am sucking in air and beginning to gasp; when I put my head back into the water, I feel like I'm holding my breath and have no air (must be what drowning feels like). At that point it's just a matter of time before I'm done-- can barely get to 100m.

Your responses will probably be to post video, and I probably will, but in the meantime, here's what's REALLY puzzling me: I've been searching the forum for similar tales of woe, and I'll often find something along the lines of: "I was unable to swim more than 50/100/?? meters; then I found out I wasn't exhaling. Once I began to exhale in the water, my continuous distance went from 100m to 1800m in one day."

Is this kind of scenario realistic? I walk 3 miles a day, and upon occasion will simply continue and do 7 or 8 miles-- there's little extra effort in going further. Is is the same here?-- should you in theory be able to just continue? I was speaking to a relative who says he swims 32 lengths per day, and could go further except for the boredom factor-- that's the way it is with walking/hiking for me, but I don't see that happening with swimming my crawl.

Thanks,
Gerald

ViveBene
November 26th, 2008, 01:21 PM
Exhale underwater - you can practice that separately, just play around in water to get comfortable.

It sounds to me as though your energy output is too high for what you are able to do mechanically and you are uncertain how to accommodate. I would focus on body balance and position, nice and easy swim, use fins to help get through the water, and sometimes use a pull buoy. Easy breathing. When you start getting breathless and panicky, slow down, maybe roll onto side or back while recovering breathing. Aim to turn around at the wall, not hang on to it.

I would also look into the Total Immersion program (and book) and try to find an instructor or a camp in your area.
http://www.totalimmersion.net/

Hope this helps!

VB

(P.S. It's OK to exhale through nose, mouth, both. Eventually you get fine control over that, too.)

nkfrench
November 26th, 2008, 03:22 PM
I was one of those people who had a "breakthrough" single day when I progressed from struggling through 25 yards to being able to swim as far as I wanted freestyle. Both of us spent the early days just building up conditioning while struggling. For me, I needed to learn how to RELAX and swim economically -- only using the muscles I needed when they were needed, not swimming all tensed up (and the exhale thing too) as fast as I could go.

I was about 13 taking a "learn to swim competitive" 2-week class taught by a college swimmer. Just those 2 weeks really improved on the abilities I had from taking many summer Red Cross swim lessons.

YudyW
November 26th, 2008, 03:24 PM
Exhale underwater - you can practice that separately, just play around in water to get comfortable.

...

Easy breathing. When you start getting breathless and panicky, slow down, maybe roll onto side or back while recovering breathing. Aim to turn around at the wall, not hang on to it.

I would also look into the Total Immersion program (and book) and try to find an instructor or a camp in your area.
http://www.totalimmersion.net/

Hope this helps!

VB

(P.S. It's OK to exhale through nose, mouth, both. Eventually you get fine control over that, too.)

I do exhale underwater-- when I read the various relevant postings here I mentioned it to my instructor who checked me out on that.

I don't really panic-- it is quite uncomfortable, and all I want to do is get to the other end (which BTW causes me to try to speed up and ends up costing me more energy), but there's no fear or panic involved. (As an aside, when younger, I had taken what was then called 'senior lifesaving' by the Red Cross-- my swimming instructional experience was completely of the Red Cross variety, but I do recall being able to swim endless -- or seemingly so-- laps)

I have Laughlin's book and have seen the videos, and have been trying several of the drills-- they help somewhat but not to the point that I don't begin losing it after a couple of lengths.

Thanks,
-- Gerald

OTOH, while somewhat frustrating, the situation is not dire. Despite being in reasonable shape, this level of exercise for the last three months (30-40 min 4-5 times/wk) has definitely increased my aerobic capacity and general energy level as well as trim an inch or so off a 52YO waist :)

knelson
November 26th, 2008, 03:42 PM
I don't really panic-- it is quite uncomfortable, and all I want to do is get to the other end (which BTW causes me to try to speed up and ends up costing me more energy)

I think maybe this is the root cause of your problem. You really haven't learned to swim aerobically. You're swimming too fast for your current conditioning and technique to be able to maintain the pace you are swimming at. Try slowing down radically. You should get to a point where you're at a pace you can maintain for a long time. Once you can find that pace, and start swimming at it consistently, then I think you'll find you can start increasing the pace once you build your aerobic base.

LindsayNB
November 26th, 2008, 03:46 PM
Hi Gerald, have you tried swimming with a pull buoy? Swimming without a kick is significantly less oxygen-consuming so doing a 100 or 200 pull to see what effect it had on your breathlessness might provide some clues as to the cause of your issues. I agree with Kirk that the basic cause is you are swimming faster than you can sustain at your current fitness with your current technique. Whether the problem is kicking too hard, bad body position, lack of aerobic capacity, that is a harder question. Kirk's suggestion is probably more basic, does the problem go away if you just swim slower?

YudyW
November 26th, 2008, 04:07 PM
Hi Gerald, have you tried swimming with a pull buoy? Swimming without a kick is significantly less oxygen-consuming so doing a 100 or 200 pull to see what effect it had on your breathlessness might provide some clues as to the cause of your issues. I agree with Kirk that the basic cause is you are swimming faster than you can sustain at your current fitness with your current technique. Whether the problem is kicking too hard, bad body position, lack of aerobic capacity, that is a harder question. Kirk's suggestion is probably more basic, does the problem go away if you just swim slower?

I've managed to start and maintain a slower pace at the beginning. (I seem to have a similar problem of pacing myself when I jog as well). As I mentioned, for the first length I'm nice and relaxed, the breath is shallow and all is well with the world. Same with most of the second length, but by 50m, I find my breath is getting more pronounced and deeper. I'm also finding myself puffing up my cheeks (while my face is in the water) at this point-- this happened a lot when I first switched to exhaling through my nose, but I've been working at it and now it beings to happen as I begin to lose steam.

A pull buoy sounds like a good idea. I'm also thinking of trying a snorkel simply to see if it's a breathing/hyperventilating/CO2 issue (I've used and am comfortable with a snorkel so not having to deal with the breathing may tell me something).

Thanks,
-- Gerald

BillS
November 26th, 2008, 07:31 PM
I'm guessing you're trying to go out too fast. Try using a pace clock. Warm up, then swim a nice, relaxed, easy 25. Stop at the wall and get your time. That's your goal pace. Relax for 60 seconds. Now swim another 25, with the goal being to swim at or slower and easier than the first relaxed 25. Do an open turn and get your time, holding for no more than 5 seconds on the wall, then swim back, again at the same pace. Repeat, getting your time on each 25, but holding for no more than 5 seconds at each wall. Stop if you fall apart or your times start decreasing below the easy 25 pace, regroup and start all over again.

Concentrate on maintaining that pace. Deliberately sloooow down when you start to feel out of breath. Push hard off each wall, get down under the water and streamline, but relax while gliding -- it's the easiest and best part of each length. Concentrate on taking good, deep breaths when the "I'm running out of air; must thrash the water madly to get to the wall where I can breathe again" feeling begins. It's easy to hyperventilate when the technique starts to come apart at the seams, which of course is a vicious circle. Play games with yourself, see if you can pull out one more 25 after the feeling starts by staying long, loose, smooth, and easy. Tell yourself it's just a 25, then you can rest. Stop and regroup after that.

A 5 second pause at each wall ain't much, but it should enable you to check your time and make sure you're on pace. After a while, you should be able to maintain that EZ pace indefinitely.

ehoch
November 26th, 2008, 07:56 PM
bilateral breathing about 2 months ago

Why ? 95% of all swimmers do not do this - why on earth are they asking beginners to learn this ?????

The snorkel is a great idea - you will find out if you have a breathing issue or something else.

Also - the comment "kicking is too fast" tells you that you are trying too hard. Relax and see if you can swim with a pronounced 2 beat kick (instead of all the little kicks)- one kick for every arm pull - just as a drill.

Try this - swim 8-12x25 - and use as little energy / as few muscles as possible. Do the same thing with 50s. In between each one - adjust and see if you can improve - relaxing your arms / maybe your legs / make yourself as long as possible without forcing it.

mattson
November 27th, 2008, 02:50 PM
Why ? 95% of all swimmers do not do this - why on earth are they asking beginners to learn this ??

Easier for a beginner to develop good habits. They don't have any bad habits to break.

joemama474
November 27th, 2008, 03:40 PM
I am in exactly the same boat. Once upon a time I was a distance runner, so I'm familiar with the concept of recovering while still running (slowing down until the ability to breathe more closely approximates the body's O2 demand) but swimming still takes it all out of me. If I slow down so that I don't need to breathe as much, I sink. After 2 months of swimming, I can do 50's in a 25 yard pool, but I can only do about four of them, after that I can only go 25 at a time. My daily yardage has increased as I've gotten stronger and fitter, but it is still discouraging to not see more results more quickly.

I have found that for me, anyway, aerobic gains seem to happen much less quickly in the pool, (perhaps because the arms are so much more involved than in running?)

I am very interested in ways for those of us without the aerobic fitness to go long and slow to get longer (and slower.) I used to love LSD days when I ran, and that is my ultimate goal in my swimming, I'm just having a very hard time getting there.

dorothyrde
November 28th, 2008, 08:57 AM
Easier for a beginner to develop good habits. They don't have any bad habits to break.

I agree. As an adult beginner, I knew that alternate side breathing was the best way to go since my kids were already swimmers at the time I learned. I put it in right away and was able to learn it, and now don't have to struggle to relearn a breathing pattern.

When my kids were small, the Y only taught single side breathing because they felt it was easier. With my youngest, I did a lot of teaching her because she was stubborn(not sure where she gets that), and the teachers had touble with her. By the time she was 5, she was easily alternate side breathing. So young and old can learn this right away.

LindsayNB
November 28th, 2008, 10:37 AM
Wouldn't it be better to teach breathing to both sides than to teach breathing every third stroke?

I regularly argue with a woman on my team who swims primarily distance events and always breaths every third stroke because "breathing less is faster". It seems to me that limiting your oxygen intake is a bad strategy for sustained speed.

SuperFlyGal
November 28th, 2008, 01:37 PM
I recommend concentrating on your head position. The human head is pretty darned heavy. When I have taught beginners they tend to swim with their heads up high, usually panicking. They can barely make it 10 feet from the shear exhaustion. Try drilling with a jellyfish (dead man's or survival float). Preferably in water in which you can stand, float on your stomach, relax completely and let your limbs dangle towards the ground, concentrate on looking directly at the ground. If you find you are bottom heavy and can't maintain proper alignment use a pull buoy between your legs. Relax your neck completely. When you need air exhale completely into the water, turn your head to the side, keeping your opposite ear facing the ground, take a breath, and repeat. My suspicion is that the more you are concerned with getting a breath, the higher up your head is going. When you are comfortable with this take it out very slowly, using a pull buoy between your legs for added support. Exaggerate your stroke, try at least a slow three count with each pull, feel the glide and acceleration as you bring your arms through the water. Concentrate on not lifting your head when you breathe, exhale in the water, turn your head keeping your opposite ear pointed towards the ground, inhale and bring your head right back into position, looking at the ground. Don't worry about running into the wall. If you follow the lines on the ground you will see the T mark that tells you the wall is near and it's time to turn. The slower you practice your stroke the less splashing you will have and the more confident you will become with your breathing. When you are accustomed to all of this, you can add your kick in. Maybe use some fins when you add your kick, but do some separate kicking drills to work on that as well. There is also a chance that you may be hyperventilating a bit, which can make you exhausted. This is why it is so important to exhale well before you take in more air. I hope this has helped you somewhat. Don't give up, you can do this! :applaud:

norascats
November 30th, 2008, 09:06 AM
Are you practicing on your own? It sounds like you are not coordinating your breathing with your stroke. Even a little difference can have you out of breath quickly. Make sure you are exhaling completely before your head comes out for the next breath.
A good exercise for breathing is a series of slow bobs. Go down until you feel like breathing and then come up, blowing as you rise. Take a breath and go down again. Continue this for about five minutes.
Easy swims with plenty of rest will help you relax as you swim.
There's no way to get around it. Good swimming requires practice.

ViveBene
November 30th, 2008, 09:39 AM
Long and slow

Your canoe tips over a mile from land. You decide to swim for it. It's a nice summer day and you've got plenty of time. What breathing and stroking patterns/rates will you use?

I think the temptation to go out too fast is common to swimmers in the initial stage. Try slowing down to a ridiculously slow speed.

Single-arm stroking drills might also be useful, as they put focus on balance while moving energy output down a tad. Good for diagnosing arm stroke differences and for practicing breathing to both sides, while seeing how breathing coordinates with stroking (and kicking). I would use flippers or a pull buoy, at least initially.

Another idea: position a pull buoy at the wall where you start getting breathless and use it for next 25. Or alternate laps with and without pull buoy.

It takes time.

:coffee:

YudyW
December 1st, 2008, 09:24 AM
Easier for a beginner to develop good habits. They don't have any bad habits to break.

Actually. the bilateral was my own idea. As I had mentioned, although I had never swam competitively, I had gone through the standard Red Cross swim curriculum when I was a teenager (including a lifesaving course). My wife had signed up for a college intro swim course about 10 years ago and had learned the basics, but never really pursued it as an exercise until we decided to give it a try recently (we basically walk about 3 miles a day and lift for strength training).

I read Whitten's and Hine's books and ordered the Total Immersion text (only to find that Hines was basically a flavor of the TI approach), and as both recommended bilateral breathing, I began using it-- it took about two weeks for it to become fairly natural. I had also read about stroke counts and was abashed to find myself having a 30-count for a 25m length, when various online resources were talking about sub-20 counts being the least one should be shooting for. Most of the (what seem to me) good swimmers where we work out are in the 18-22 range, so I knew I could stand with much improvement.

At the same time my wife began taking lessons (with a WSI-certified member of the college swim team), and as she was being taught bilateral, I figured I was doing a good thing. I was simply trying to increase my yardage and endurance (no lessons). I asked her instructor to look at my form, and he basically said it was OK, but just OK.

And then, we hung around one day while the team worked out and I watched him swim. Forget about the fact that his body looked like it was being propelled, forget about the endurance-- he had a stroke length of about 12 across the 25m. At which point I went over to him and asked for lessons-- not that I expected to get anywhere near that level, but this was a whole new world-- it was like comparing my horse and buggy to a sports car.

That's been about two months, and I've made some progress, but as I said this endurance issue is a real obstacle. What's frustrating me is reading things like 'it takes six weeks for the average person to swim a mile', or looking at beginngers drills that call for warm-ups of 300m, when I can barely do 100 during my main set.


Are you practicing on your own? It sounds like you are not coordinating your breathing with your stroke. Even a little difference can have you out of breath quickly. Make sure you are exhaling completely before your head comes out for the next breath.
A good exercise for breathing is a series of slow bobs. Go down until you feel like breathing and then come up, blowing as you rise. Take a breath and go down again. Continue this for about five minutes.
Easy swims with plenty of rest will help you relax as you swim.
There's no way to get around it. Good swimming requires practice.

Bobbing is no problem-- as I've mentioned in a previous post, I'm very comfortable in the water, can tread endlessly and even when out of breath on my fourth length, I am not panicky or fearful-- simply upset that I'm once again unable to go further.

We're working out about 40 minutes 5 days a week, and I try to incorporate the previous lesson's points into the workout. I've asked him for workout suggestions-- he's told me to try to increase the continuous yardage as much as possible, and do kicking work.

Thanks,
-- Gerald

Kevin in MD
December 1st, 2008, 01:54 PM
Been swimming for about 3 months (always 'swam' but never any real extended period for fitness until now). Started bilateral breathing about 2 months ago, basically natural to me now.

If by bilateral you mean you are breathing every third armstroke or more, stop that! Next time you go to the pool breathe every two armstrokes and you'll get a BIG gain in time to exhaustion. Guaranteed. You can work on breathing veerty third stroke a little later.

If you want to practice breathing to either side, then do so, you can switch the side you breathe to every 25 yards or every 50 yards whatever. You'll have less CO2 buildup and will be a happier swimmer.

knelson
December 1st, 2008, 02:13 PM
If you want to practice breathing to either side, then do so, you can switch the side you breathe to every 25 yards or every 50 yards

Another pattern that works well is 3-2. That gives you two breaths on each side, then a switch.

alphadog
December 2nd, 2008, 05:13 PM
(was exhaling through mouth, instructor told me to switch to nose, and am doing so now).


I have to exhale through both my nose and mouth to get it all out. Maybe you're not getting rid of all the CO2. If this is the case, you may feel OK at first and start to crater pretty quickly. I've experienced this when bilateral breathing because I tend to hold my breath for about a stroke before exhaling.

I remember someone more knowledgable than me stating that the limiting factor in underwater swimming is CO2 buildup rather than oxygen debt. They said this is what tells you it is time to surface.

I would go back to breathing every two and exhaling through both nose and mouth. If this works, build up your endurance before trying bilateral breathing again. In the meantime, you can breath on opposite sides on alternate lengths.

Surfergirl
December 2nd, 2008, 07:18 PM
for the first YEAR after i learned to swim at age 21, i could only do 25 yards on a 5 minute interval. no joke. (and i was not out of shape--i had always been a recreational runner). or maybe it was 50 yards, but only 25 at a time, in 5 minutes. then a couple of lifeguards gave me tips on my stroke and all of a sudden (or so it seemed) i could do 3 miles without stopping. it's all in the technique.

Stevepowell
December 2nd, 2008, 09:31 PM
Last April I quit smoking and started walking. About 50 yds, rest, another 50 and so on. Now I can walk 500 yds before the burn forces me to stop.

Swimming I started in Oct about the same yardage although I run out of air swimming not walking and swam once a week not every day. This past week I spent my vacation swimming twice a day and can now do 17 s 25's for 8 or so reps with an easy lap in between.

Anyway try coasting once your arm is in the water in front of you. Leave the other arm at your hip until you take another stroke. Try waiting a two count between strokes. It is easier than trying to swim slow.

Trekki1
December 5th, 2008, 10:14 AM
Gerald, I'm 'exactly' where you are. Misery loves company, so I'll join in :-). I'm planning on doing triathlons in 2009 so I've taken this 'techincal' sport up. I'm going to have to work up to open water so I'll probably start with some Sprint Tris with 400m swims in a pool

I'm quite puzzled as well. But I've been told by my swim coach to 'slow down.' I find it very hard to relax and go slow in the water. Not to make a pun but when I get 'that sinking feeling' I start to frenetically kick to right myself, and then I speed up to try to get to the wall as quickly as I can as I become hypoxic. I'm pretty beat-up after 50-75 meters. I'm an active cyclist and runner so I have a well-developed lower body. My muscular legs seem to 'drag' me down, and I overcompensate by kicking too hard and pulling my head out of the water to try to breathe.

As for Total Immersion I too have the book. and video I seriously considered taking a weekend class, now that I've been swimming for a couple of months I find that their techniques are limiting (people don't really swim that way) and their weekend classes are WAY overpriced. As you've probably figured out it's better to take that money and hire a coach who can work with you one-on-one.

One 'compensation' that I've gotten is the most people's swimming technique is not very good. I swim at Meadowbrook in Baltimore (Michael Phelps/Bob Bowman now own it) where supposedly a lot of 'elite'

YudyW
January 6th, 2009, 12:31 PM
Pardon if this is a bit lengthy-- I'm trying to update on my progress and ask a follow-up question.

Been swimming 5-6 days/week and did start seeing a difference-- could do (single) 50's easy, then 75's, and then 100's. However, been reading Whitten's and Hine's books as well as several others, and don't recall which one, but one of them basically said that the average person should be able to swim 1 mile continuously after 12 weeks of working out. It's been more like 20 weeks and I'm not even close to 400m non-stop.

Discussed the slow endurance progress with my instructor, as well as HIS coach-- both basically said it's mainly a matter of building up swim endurance and suggested sets of 50's with 0:20R between 50's. I can do 6 or 7 of those before having to increase the rest interval (which is weird because I'm now able to-- just barely-- do a 200 free which is just slightly less)

Got myself a center-mount snorkel and a pull buoy (the former to test what role breathing was playing with my endurance, and the latter to see how much the kick was knocking me out). The differences were immediate. As an example, let me list a workout I did about two weeks after getting these items (workout was provided by my instructor-- he suggested the buoy-- the snorkel was my idea):

Warmup: 200 free / 100 back
500m free snorkel/fins
200m back fins
200m free buoy
50 back
150 free

and basically had no problem (though my form was lousy for the last 50 of the 200 free warmup; also, the 200 pull was much easier then the 200 free)

So it seems that with a snorkel I can keep going (subject to arm/leg fatigue). Similarly if I don't kick, I can go much further. (When using the snorkel, I maintain a 3-stroke breathing rhythm -- which is what I normally use w/o the snorkel-- without any trouble; of course my inhalation is probably longer)

I know I have trouble pacing myself when jogging and believe its true swimming as well, and was thinking that might be the issue. When jogging you can always start panting-- it's sort of difficult to pant when your face is mainly in the water :)-- and that's the sensation I think I'm getting-- I take a breath and as soon as my face turns back into the water, I feel like I'm out of breath.

Here's my question-- when I began these lessons (again, prior to this I knew how to swim from typical summer camp Red Cross lessons), I was exhaling through my mouth-- and was told to instead exhale through my nose. I have been doing that for the last several months, but find that my cheeks still puff up and am wondering if my breathing is off. When I use the snorkel, my mouth is relaxed; similarly for the first couple of laps w/o my cheeks are empty of air, but as soon as I start getting out of breath, my cheeks begin to puff up again. (If I consciously expel the air out of them it gives me a bit more wind; also, if I do several laps immediately after using the snorkel, I can 'remember' how to keep my mouth empty of air and it seems to make a big difference.

Thanks,
-- Gerald

laineybug
January 6th, 2009, 12:44 PM
I didn't see anyone mention a check up with a doctor. It probably isn't a medical condition, but better safe than sorry. My ability to swim distances without feeling like I was gasping for air improved greatly once I became euthyroid.

Lainey

notsofast
January 6th, 2009, 01:02 PM
Swimming is so different from other forms of exercise, because you have to develop a strategy for breathing.
For most people starting out, it's a little scary when you are short of breath and your face is in the water. It's a bit irrational - after swimming as much as you have, you know you aren't going to drown in the pool. But you have to teach your irrational self that everything will be OK.
That's how it was for me, at least. Maybe you are in the same boat.
First, remember that you are never really that far from oxygen - four inches max.
Second, it's easy to breathe too much when you are swimming - blowing out all the air as soon as your face goes into the water and gasping more in as your face hits air. I did that and was basically hyperventilating, and when you are swimming, that feels like you are short of breath. In reality, you have plenty of air; you just have to get used to taking in only the oxygen you need and letting go of it slowly and steadily.
Sorry I can't explain it better. Both of these are basically about being confident in the water.

swimmj
January 6th, 2009, 01:03 PM
Congrats on the progress you have made. The more you relax, the easier pacing and breathing will be - any time you start to struggle with being out of breath, remind yourself to relax and really focus on exhaling. If you focus on the exhale, you will get most of the used up air out of your lungs and will be able to get a better breath. So I think about blowing a nice, steady stream of bubbles and make that my focus. I find it's calming as well. Stick with it and let us know how you are doing.

Iwannafly
January 6th, 2009, 04:54 PM
Gerald,
You made the comment that your 200 with a pull buoy was easy compared to some of your other intervals. I have been swimming for 2 years now and I still slip into poor body position from time to time. Just a few weeks ago we swam some broken 100s, 50 with a buoy and 50 without. My 50s with a buoy were several seconds faster than without. Once my coach pointed that out, I was able to concentrate on pressing my chest into the water thereby letting my hips ride higher in the water. That is always my battle, sinking legs and hips. Try concentrating on pressing your chest into the water and see if that doesn't help you out some. (You have to take my advice with a grain of salt since I only have two years of experience under my belt. But I have gone from only being able to swim less than 100 yards at a time to swimming 3000 yard workouts in an hour.)
Good luck,
T.J.

YudyW
February 27th, 2009, 12:27 PM
Figured I would update the thread. Having acquired a snorkel, fins and buouy, I began experimenting and here were the results:



Fins simply made me move faster. I could thus do more laps (about double the number I could do without fins), but eventually began struggling again.
The snorkel made a BIG difference-- first time on (and with fins) I did 500m without any problem (other than some fatigue in arms and legs, which is exactly what I was shooting for)-- no breathing issues.
The pull buouy also made a big difference-- again, I was able to do 200m w/o any problem.

I therefore figured the main culprit was my breathing, with the kicking (using the largest muscles) exacerbating things.

I'd been doing strict 3-stroke bilateral breathing, and on a whim, switched to 2-stroke breaths-- switching sides on each length. Voila-- end of problem-- I guess I was just not getting enough oxygen. The first workout I did 300m without a problem, next workout 400m and then 500m-- and in each case, I could have easily gone further, heart rate was reasonable and when finished was barely breathing heavily. Since then, I feel as if I am moving in the water, rather than fighting it. I am relaxed during the laps, my breathing is relaxed as well, and the sense of well-being I've been looking for during the laps has finally arrived.

I occasionally revert to 3-stroke breathing and have been finding that, there as well, my endurance is increasing. I am now able to do 100m with strict 3-stroke breaths w/o any problem, and am just waiting until I can switch over completely.

One of my initial short term goals was 1/4 mile non-stop, and I've achieved that. My next goals are getting a below 20 stroke count per 25m (I'm somewhere between 22 and 25), and reducing my time. I'm currently doing 50m in just about 1:00 and know that there's a long way to go. I still find it amazing that my stroke is SOOO inefficient that an average Masters swimmer is about half my time.

Thanks for all the advice.

-- Gerald

mazzy
February 28th, 2009, 07:39 PM
My next goals are getting a below 20 stroke count per 25m (I'm somewhere between 22 and 25), and reducing my time. I'm currently doing 50m in just about 1:00 and know that there's a long way to go. I still find it amazing that my stroke is SOOO inefficient that an average Masters swimmer is about half my time.

Thanks for all the advice.

-- Gerald

Well, my story is in some way very similar with some marked differences.
For 2 years when I was 9-10 I learned to swim, but not until Sept 07 I came back to a pool, with all my strokes to rebuild from the ground.
The first few weeks I can't go more that 25m at time with plenty of rest, except breaststroke.
with the "Dream" to outrun anybody I focused to a good form, a great catch/pull studying the great ones, and stopping everytime I feel that my stroke started to fall apart too much, instead to swim "garbage meters".

After 4 months (2x/week) of training I can easily outran anybody on my group on fast 25s, by 4-5 secs at least, I was the only "rookies" of my group, on the pull set I was only average, but I was the best kickers, my arm was very weak to swim, tiring pretty fast so nobody expected me to be the top "spinters", I go wall-to-wall on free in about 18s.
The key difference was DPS, I was in low 20s 22-23 on average, with no underwater only the push off, glide and breakout, the others around 30 or more.
I was slipping less, kicking help too to archive a better position in water and to add something to the speed.

Jumping a today, I've improved my techinque but my endurance still sucks, I can do a 100m free barely with open turn and 1-2 secs rest on the open turn on the last 2, but my form decreased steady.
When I'm fresh relaxed after the push off I can do a 25m with 19 strokes without esitation or glide, I feel that I've still margin to go lower because the final part of my pull is still a working in progress, and overall it can be improved all around, I'd not surprise if next season I can lower again to 16-17.

I agree with you that snorkel is a fantastic toy, a must-have.
using it I've improved my balance in a short time, it help me to reduce the slippage of my left arm (my right arm is my power arm) and improve my left breathing.
Using a pull-bouy I can swim with modest form nearly forever just like you have found.

I'm not relaxed and my kick is not smooth and controlled but a little too erratic and disconected from my stroke, so I burn too much energy too fast, slowing down is hard to me for now... it's so no natural, I'm working to fix it, maybe a day I'll swim a 400m smooth with costant technique, but for now that day is years away...

Sylvia
March 3rd, 2009, 01:10 PM
I do exhale underwater-- when I read the various relevant postings here I mentioned it to my instructor who checked me out on that.

I don't really panic-- it is quite uncomfortable, and all I want to do is get to the other end (which BTW causes me to try to speed up and ends up costing me more energy), but there's no fear or panic involved. (As an aside, when younger, I had taken what was then called 'senior lifesaving' by the Red Cross-- my swimming instructional experience was completely of the Red Cross variety, but I do recall being able to swim endless -- or seemingly so-- laps)

I have Laughlin's book and have seen the videos, and have been trying several of the drills-- they help somewhat but not to the point that I don't begin losing it after a couple of lengths.

Thanks,
-- Gerald

OTOH, while somewhat frustrating, the situation is not dire. Despite being in reasonable shape, this level of exercise for the last three months (30-40 min 4-5 times/wk) has definitely increased my aerobic capacity and general energy level as well as trim an inch or so off a 52YO waist :)
HI:
I have the same problem. I swim a mile a day, but it takes me 45 minutes with several short stops to catch a breath. I feel like I am breathing too shallow, and know that I should be doing diaphragmatic breathing. Also have asked the question many times, about on what # of stroke one should breathe, and if trying to do long distance swimming, how that might effect whether one should do one sided breathing, bilateral, every other stroke, every third stroke, every 4th etc. Of course, I am sure age affects all of the above. I am a 60 year old female, feel like I'm in pretty good shape, but still want to become more efficient, relaxed in the water, and just forget about technique and breathing. I am reading the Total Immersion book. ARe the DVD's worth investing in? I know there is one on Oxygen and breathing.