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View Full Version : Flyers: head up vs head down



vo2
May 23rd, 2013, 09:38 AM
I am swimming with a new coach and she is quite adamant that my breathe every stroke rhythm is holding me back and I *might* hyperventilate. I look at breathing as a choice. I don't breathe every time my head comes up, but rather do it for rhythm. As in head down strokes tend to lead to my hips dropping later in a race. So, I find the head up every stroke helps me with that.

Is there any other reason why I *need* to take a head down stroke that she isn't explaining to me? I'm almost getting to the point where I'm tuning her out unfortunately, but if it's simply a 'hyperventilate' mantra it makes zero sense b/c bringing ones head up doesn't necessitate a breath.

Is the only reason to take a head down stroke to avoid hyperventilating? I have asked her this question and received 'yes', but would like to hear from the forum brain trust on this. Thank you! If this is a technique issue by lowering the head that will make me faster I'm all for it, but I want to hear the how and why b/f I potentially disrupt the rhythm of my stroke.

fmracing
May 23rd, 2013, 10:03 AM
I never contemplate either, i just breathe to the side in fly, despite everyone saying how wrong it is. Doing so keeps me from going vertical and is a lot more comfortable.

Rob Copeland
May 23rd, 2013, 11:17 AM
Without knowing what your coach is seeing it is difficult to assess your comments. But from personal observation, Iíve never experienced butterfly hyperventilation. Butterfly hypoxia, yes and often, but hyperventilation, nope.

Iíve always believed the 2 main reasons for head down strokes are to keep the hips up and to smooth out and speed up the stroke. If head down does neither for you then Phelps away!

And if you really donít want to change then play the Masters card and let her know that while you appreciate her help and advice, you are happy with your stroke as is and donít want to change a thing.

Fresnoid
May 23rd, 2013, 11:34 AM
There is absolutely no way you can ever hyperventilate swimming butterfly.

I was taught head down to keep hips up and stay flatter in the water. If you have a strong enough second kick and finish with your hands, there may be no benefit to keeping the head down. In that case breathe away.

I would desperately love to be able to breathe every stroke, but my stroke shortens and I tip vertically. One of my primary goals in the next few months is to fix my Fly enough to be able to breathe every stroke.

Allen Stark
May 23rd, 2013, 11:35 AM
Most swimmers slow a little when they breathe,so not breathing every stroke in a 50 or 100 makes sense in terms of speed for them.If your stroke is such that you are as fast or faster when you breathe every stroke then do so.I am not sure it is possible to hyperventilate if you are reasonable exerting yourself.Hyperventilation is when you are breathing out CO2 faster than your body is producing it,leading to respiratory alkalosis and dizziness.If you are exerting ,you are producing CO2 pretty fast.The real danger of hyperventilation is that,since increasing blood CO2 is what drives the "need to breath" response,if you hyperventilate before a breath holding swim,your body won't insist you breath before you run out of O2 and you could pass out.Since you are breathing every stroke,you are not engaging in excessive breath holding, so that is a non-issue.

Fresnoid
May 23rd, 2013, 11:36 AM
play the Masters card .

I tried that last week with a new assistant coach who's fresh out of college. Told him everyone over 40 grew up doing one hand touches in Fly. He didn't buy it.

Rob Copeland
May 23rd, 2013, 11:42 AM
I tried that last week with a new assistant coach who's fresh out of college. Told him everyone over 40 grew up doing one hand touches in Fly. He didn't buy it.I said play the Masters card not the Joker.

vo2
May 23rd, 2013, 11:48 AM
Ok thanks all for the comments. Good stuff

knelson
May 23rd, 2013, 12:43 PM
Let's not beat around the bush here. The idea that you could hyperventilate by breathing every stroke in butterfly is completely ridiculous. The reason not to breathe every stroke is to keep your hips and legs up. If you raise your head your lower body has to go down. This increases drag by increasing your frontal area. Good kicking and just getting your chin above water helps this, but there's no way you can lift your head and not affect the position of your lower body at least a little bit.

Kevin in MD
May 23rd, 2013, 05:09 PM
I am swimming with a new coach and she is quite adamant that my breathe every stroke rhythm is holding me back and I *might* hyperventilate.

Hyperventilation is ridiculous, one of those indicators that she hasn't put much though into it.

Here's the deal, the higher your head comes up the more you will slow down, it takes energy to get your head up. So you might say that if you don't breathe that you could use that energy to go forward and not up.

On the other hand, breathing half as often has a cost, that cost is that you get half as much oxygen and get rid of half as much co2. Those two things are definite causes of fatigue in swimming.

So, is it worth it to breathe only two strokes? I think it's personal. For me, on the 50 I breathe every three or so. On the 100 every 2 at first and then every stroke. On the 200 and the 400 IM I definitely am faster breathing every stroke.

So it probably depends on the intended race distance. In general I am a fan of breathing more rather than less.

Rich Abrahams
May 23rd, 2013, 05:44 PM
I agree with the other posters that hyperventilation is not very likely, but what the coach may be talking about is inadequate air exchange when you breath too often. It never happens to me in long axis strokes, but sometimes on short axis strokes (especially breast stroke during an IM) I won't breath out fully on each stroke cycle and get the feeling of not getting enough oxygen. I have to concentrate on fully expressing all my air befor breathing in. It has also happened to me on butterfly when I breath every stroke, but more rarely. Just a thought.

vo2
May 23rd, 2013, 06:09 PM
I agree with the other posters that hyperventilation is not very likely, but what the coach may be talking about is inadequate air exchange when you breath too often. It never happens to me in long axis strokes, but sometimes on short axis strokes (especially breast stroke during an IM) I won't breath out fully on each stroke cycle and get the feeling of not getting enough oxygen. I have to concentrate on fully expressing all my air befor breathing in. It has also happened to me on butterfly when I breath every stroke, but more rarely. Just a thought.

Ah that's a good point I never thought of it that way. Never had that problem, but I think I can see how it might be an issue. It's really kind of a mute point in my mind b/c all I want to do is swim the 100 IM. It's 25 yards of fly which amounts to a handfull of strokes after a start and streamline. She has grandiose ideas of me swimming the 100/200 fly which I can safely assure you will NEVER happen.

orca1946
May 23rd, 2013, 06:37 PM
I would talk with the coach again & stress that you will not go hyper. I am one of those that came from distance free & ALWAYS breathe on the side - it keeps my head down & hips up & feels much more natural to me.

ekw
May 23rd, 2013, 07:17 PM
The only time I ever hyperventilate with fly is when I think about swimming it... :afraid:

vo2
May 23rd, 2013, 07:24 PM
I would talk with the coach again & stress that you will not go hyper. I am one of those that came from distance free & ALWAYS breathe on the side - it keeps my head down & hips up & feels much more natural to me.

Does the fact that I fight my hips dropping on longer sets when head down breathing indicate anything technique wise? Head up is just so 'normal' for me that whatever hip drop I get I compensate with my kick to offset. When I go head down it's so foreign I just feel as if I lose my connection a bit. On 50's my head up is ~ 2 seconds faster than utilizing a 2 down 1 up or 2 up 1 down.

I'd be thrilled to find a technique issue to fix for more speed, but breathing more head down only slows me down so sayeth the stop watch.

Fresnoid
May 23rd, 2013, 08:22 PM
Does the fact that I fight my hips dropping on longer sets when head down breathing indicate anything technique wise? Head up is just so 'normal' for me that whatever hip drop I get I compensate with my kick to offset. When I go head down it's so foreign I just feel as if I lose my connection a bit. On 50's my head up is ~ 2 seconds faster than utilizing a 2 down 1 up or 2 up 1 down.

I'd be thrilled to find a technique issue to fix for more speed, but breathing more head down only slows me down so sayeth the stop watch.

Just how big is your head if it creates that much drag????

no200fly
May 23rd, 2013, 11:34 PM
The only time I ever hyperventilate with fly is when I think about swimming it... :afraid:

:D

vo2
May 24th, 2013, 08:31 AM
Just how big is your head if it creates that much drag????
I guess I never thought of it being a drag issue, but more that it disrupted my rhythm. Just so used to head up that anything different changes the feel of how my body flows.

sickfish
May 24th, 2013, 09:19 PM
I agree with the other posters that hyperventilation is not very likely, but what the coach may be talking about is inadequate air exchange when you breath too often. It never happens to me in long axis strokes, but sometimes on short axis strokes (especially breast stroke during an IM) I won't breath out fully on each stroke cycle and get the feeling of not getting enough oxygen. I have to concentrate on fully expressing all my air befor breathing in. It has also happened to me on butterfly when I breath every stroke, but more rarely. Just a thought.

This is what I do.

Michael Heather
May 24th, 2013, 10:22 PM
Since the comments seem to be all over the map, I will throw in some more. Michael Phelps breathes every stroke and has not reported any ill effects. In fact, he was taught to breathe every stroke in order to simplify his overall stroke and have a consistent body position. Now you could try the same thing, but you need to remember that his kick is astounding. If your kick is so good that the arms are just there for show, go ahead and breathe as often as you like.

Head position is also important, as has been touched upon here, but not clarified. Breathing with your head in a position to see the other wall or starting blocks is not good. Every breath you take should be with the head in a neutral position, looking down at the water rather than ahead at a wall that is not going anywhere. A weak kick will result in water intake instead of air.

Older Flyers will still swim with one up one down breathing, but it really isn't very difficult to breather every stroke with some practice. hyperventilating is the least of any possible problem you might have. In fact, if you feel light headed or dizzy after swimming fly, it is most probably because you are holding your breath, not breathing too much.