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Nagunae
September 9th, 2014, 05:24 AM
This is my first post here.

I started swimming four years ago. I grew up with a pool at our house and swimming was always an important part of summer for me, but I never swam competitively. Fast forward a few decades (I'm 47 now). I started swimming because running was becoming too painful for my knees and back, and I was tired of other problems (shin splints, for example).

I started out with breaststroke but now I swim almost nothing but freestyle. I started practicing bilateral breathing just a few months ago because my goal is to enter triathlons starting next year (Olympic distance), and I found that being able to breathe on both sides would be an immense asset after a few open water swims in which I breathed only to one side.

After a timed swim last week in which I tried to do bilateral as much as possible during a 1500m swim, I came up with a time that was slightly better than normal, and this even though I deliberately took it easy for the first half of the swim.

I knew it must have been the higher stroke rate that this unnatural style forces me to use. Yesterday, I timed myself again for 1500m and ended up under 28 minutes for the first time ever (27:48). I again used bilateral breathing and the higher stroke rate.

Now I'm sold on a higher stroke rate! When I breathe to one side, it's very smooth (almost no bubbles even when I push myself), but I pause for a second with my right arm in the water.

Has anyone else experienced something similar with a higher stroke rate?

ande
September 9th, 2014, 06:51 PM
Welcome
Make a video of you swimming freestyle
Put it on youtube
provide the link here and ask for feedback

27:48 is holding 55.6 per 50 or 1:51.2 per 100
There probably are many things you can do to swim faster.
You'll get your biggest improvement from correcting your technique. Stroke, turns, breathing, & push offs.
Your next biggest will come from training harder further faster more often.
You'll get some if you wear a faster suit.

In any distance race, I suggest breathing every other stroke or every 2, in longer swims breathing is very important.
We are humans we need air.
Breathing every 3rd stroke as opposed to every 2nd stroke means you will get way less air over the race and you will have to wait longer between breaths.
lets say you take 36 strokes for each 50 meters,
if you breathe every 3 you get 12 breaths,
if you breathe every 2 you get 18 breaths.
That's 50% more breaths. If you're holding 55.6 per 50 and breathing every 2,
you're getting a breath every 3.0 seconds
if you're breathing every 3
you're getting a breath every 4.6 seconds.

Lastly a higher stroke rate could be due to inefficiency, focus on efficient steady and sustainable strokes.

Nagunae
September 9th, 2014, 11:46 PM
Welcome
Make a video of you swimming freestyle
Put it on youtube
provide the link here and ask for feedback

27:48 is holding 55.6 per 50 or 1:51.2 per 100
There probably are many things you can do to swim faster.
You'll get your biggest improvement from correcting your technique. Stroke, turns, breathing, & push offs.
Your next biggest will come from training harder further faster more often.
You'll get some if you wear a faster suit.

In any distance race, I suggest breathing every other stroke or every 2, in longer swims breathing is very important.
We are humans we need air.
Breathing every 3rd stroke as opposed to every 2nd stroke means you will get way less air over the race and you will have to wait longer between breaths.
lets say you take 36 strokes for each 50 meters,
if you breathe every 3 you get 12 breaths,
if you breathe every 2 you get 18 breaths.
That's 50% more breaths. If you're holding 55.6 per 50 and breathing every 2,
you're getting a breath every 3.0 seconds
if you're breathing every 3
you're getting a breath every 4.6 seconds.

Lastly a higher stroke rate could be due to inefficiency, focus on efficient steady and sustainable strokes.

I'll think about that video, but at my present stage, it would definitely be of me breathing to my right only because breathing to the left feels so awkward still and I'm sure it looks terrible.

I think my jump in improvement very possibly is due to getting rid of that dead spot I had with my right arm extended. The bilateral breathing forces me to get on with things and drop the pause.

I think I can get another jump in improvement from getting better at breathing to my left so that it's more natural and involves less overall body movement. I think also working on early vertical forearm technique will yield some good results (I'm pretty much doing things straight arm at this point).

As far as breathing every 2 instead of every 3 strokes is concerned, I will try to take your advice once I get rid of my pause with my right arm extended. Once that happens, I can experiment with breathing to the right for a few strokes and then switching to breathing to my left for the next few strokes, and so on.

With the open water swimming I'll be facing with triathlons, I really need to be able to breathe on both sides. Sometimes there's a rope to follow, in which case it's usually to the left. Sometimes you need to look at the other swimmers around you. Sometimes there are waves or wakes coming from one side, and other times the sun can be a problem on one side.

Anyway, thanks for you advice and I'll look into getting that video.

Kevin in MD
September 11th, 2014, 10:20 AM
This is my first post here.
I started out with breaststroke but now I swim almost nothing but freestyle. I started practicing bilateral breathing just a few months ago because my goal is to enter triathlons starting next year (Olympic distance), and I found that being able to breathe on both sides would be an immense asset after a few open water swims in which I breathed only to one side.

After a timed swim last week in which I tried to do bilateral as much as possible during a 1500m swim, I came up with a time that was slightly better than normal, and this even though I deliberately took it easy for the first half of the swim.

I knew it must have been the higher stroke rate that this unnatural style forces me to use. Yesterday, I timed myself again for 1500m and ended up under 28 minutes for the first time ever (27:48). I again used bilateral breathing and the higher stroke rate.

I think we need to clarify some terms.

Bilateral Breathing means different things to different people. Bilateral breathing usually means breathing every 3rd hand entry. Meaning you breathe, 3 hand entries and then breathe to the other side. You progress breathing every third stroke and keep breathing to alternate sides.

Single side breathing usually means breathing every two hand entries, though a few people would only breathe every 4th hand entry.

So to clarify for us please explain if when you say "bilateral breathing" you mean breathing every third hand entry.

And if single side entries mean you breathe every two hand entries.



Now, as to what you need to be able to do for triathlon. Breathing every third hand entry isn't really useful for triathlon except at the very longest distances. What you really need to work on is the ability to breathe every two hand entries to either side. If you can breathe every two to either side, then you can breathe away from the waves, or away from the rising sun, or toward the competition. Breathing away from the waves is by far the biggest advantage among those three.

habu987
September 11th, 2014, 03:09 PM
I think we need to clarify some terms.

Bilateral Breathing means different things to different people. Bilateral breathing usually means breathing every 3rd hand entry. Meaning you breathe, 3 hand entries and then breathe to the other side. You progress breathing every third stroke and keep breathing to alternate sides.

Single side breathing usually means breathing every two hand entries, though a few people would only breathe every 4th hand entry.

So to clarify for us please explain if when you say "bilateral breathing" you mean breathing every third hand entry.

And if single side entries mean you breathe every two hand entries.

Bilateral breathing does not mean taking a breath every 3 strokes, although that is indeed an example of bilateral breathing. Doesn't matter if you're breathing every 3 strokes or every 15 strokes, or doing something like a 5/2 breathing pattern--it's all bilateral breathing since you're breathing to both sides. Likewise with single side breathing; doesn't matter what the frequency is, just that all the breaths are on one side.

Nagunae
September 12th, 2014, 12:10 AM
I think we need to clarify some terms.

Bilateral Breathing means different things to different people. Bilateral breathing usually means breathing every 3rd hand entry. Meaning you breathe, 3 hand entries and then breathe to the other side. You progress breathing every third stroke and keep breathing to alternate sides.

Single side breathing usually means breathing every two hand entries, though a few people would only breathe every 4th hand entry.

So to clarify for us please explain if when you say "bilateral breathing" you mean breathing every third hand entry.

And if single side entries mean you breathe every two hand entries.



Now, as to what you need to be able to do for triathlon. Breathing every third hand entry isn't really useful for triathlon except at the very longest distances. What you really need to work on is the ability to breathe every two hand entries to either side. If you can breathe every two to either side, then you can breathe away from the waves, or away from the rising sun, or toward the competition. Breathing away from the waves is by far the biggest advantage among those three.

By bilateral breathing I am indeed referring to what many would consider the classical breathe every three strokes style. And when I say single side breathing, I'm referring to breathing every two strokes (to my right in my case). As far as how this relates to open water swimming and triathlons, I have found that being able to breathe on both sides would have proved most useful for sighting in my three open water events so far (this is something I started recently so I didn't have this in my arsenal at the time). In any event, I think I definitely need to learn the skill and I'm definitely getting there- slowly but surely.

But back to my original question/comment...I was swimming around 28:30 to 29 minutes for my 1500m swims. I decide one day to put all my bilateral breathing practice to the test (by which I mean breathing every three strokes), and I ended up with a time of 28:20 without really trying for the first half of the swim. I then do my next swim again using bilateral breathing and in which I pushed myself from the get-go and I end up with a time of 27:48- my best time ever even though breathing to the left is awkward for me still and even though I was a bit starved for oxygen at times (I did take a few strokes now and then where I breathed only to my good side every two strokes). I'm guessing that it was the higher stroke rate and the fact that I got rid of the dead spot I have when a swim breathing to only one side (my right arm is extended and I pause for probably a good half second). This is probably two ways of saying the same thing in my case.

Any comments? Thanks!

Kevin in MD
September 18th, 2014, 12:20 PM
I decide one day to put all my bilateral breathing practice to the test (by which I mean breathing every three strokes), and I ended up with a time of 28:20 without really trying for the first half of the swim. I then do my next swim again using bilateral breathing and in which I pushed myself from the get-go and I end up with a time of 27:48- my best time ever even though breathing to the left is awkward for me still and even though I was a bit starved for oxygen at times (I did take a few strokes now and then where I breathed only to my good side every two strokes). I'm guessing that it was the higher stroke rate and the fact that I got rid of the dead spot I have when a swim breathing to only one side (my right arm is extended and I pause for probably a good half second). This is probably two ways of saying the same thing in my case.

Any comments? Thanks!

I am still scratching my head over the fact you have higher stroke rate when breathing every third hand entry rather than every two strokes. Among the people I coach, people can swim with a higher stroke rate when breathing every two hand entries. For some it takes some getting used to, but it happens once they get used to it.


the fact that I got rid of the dead spot I have when a swim breathing to only one side (my right arm is extended and I pause for probably a good half second)



This seems like the big difference, you obviously don't want any dead spots in your stroke.

Some people what you are calling the statue of liberty, one arm is extended our front, the other is at your hip and for a time you are there just gliding motionless on your side, this isn't what we are after.

If your dead spot is indeed tha pronounced, you may even be faster breathing every two strokes to your "bad" side.

In terms of fixing the dead spot, first of all get video of yourself. Everyone has a smartphone these days, get video from the side of the pool as you breathe left, breathe right and another as you breathe every third. It will prove illuminating.

While not necessarily a cure-all, for a self taught swimmer I have found a tempo trainer to be helpful. Set it to beep every 1.1 seconds to start this should help you eliminate the dead spot.


Best of luck

Nagunae
September 18th, 2014, 09:53 PM
the fact that I got rid of the dead spot I have when a swim breathing to only one side (my right arm is extended and I pause for probably a good half second)



This seems like the big difference, you obviously don't want any dead spots in your stroke.

Some people what you are calling the statue of liberty, one arm is extended our front, the other is at your hip and for a time you are there just gliding motionless on your side, this isn't what we are after.

If your dead spot is indeed tha pronounced, you may even be faster breathing every two strokes to your "bad" side.

In terms of fixing the dead spot, first of all get video of yourself. Everyone has a smartphone these days, get video from the side of the pool as you breathe left, breathe right and another as you breathe every third. It will prove illuminating.

While not necessarily a cure-all, for a self taught swimmer I have found a tempo trainer to be helpful. Set it to beep every 1.1 seconds to start this should help you eliminate the dead spot.


Best of luck

I have a Swimovate watch that keeps track of laps for you and also counts your strokes. I've been paying close attention to my stroke rate lately and I don't see a difference between when I do bilateral breathing (breathing every three strokes) and single sided breathing (breathing every two strokes). The watch counts my strokes to be 18 strokes in a 25m pool and 44 strokes in a 50m pool for both bilateral and single sided breathing.

So it's definitely my dead spot and not an upping of my stroke rate that has been helping me with my times. So with the other suggestions in this thread regarding how breathing every 2 strokes for long distance would be better, I think I can further improve my time by getting rid of that dead spot and breathing every 2 strokes (rather than relying on bilateral/every three strokes breathing to do this).

I like your "statue of liberty" comment. I might very well be doing a statue of liberty! I've seen some video that addresses this topic in which the arm of the swimmer is outstretched and the fingers are pointing upwards. I would call this "The Heil Hitler."

Thanks for your comments.

tpost2
September 21st, 2014, 05:23 AM
I had a similar experience - I swam a 1000 free, switching breathing sides every 50. My splits were very even all the way through, but the splits for breathing on one side for the first 50 of each 100 were consistently about .5 to 1s faster than breathing on the other side for the 2nd 50 of each 100. Like you, I was trying to figure out why on earth there might be a difference between the two. I naturally breathe to the left, and I like to breath every 2. I started doing some slow lengths breathing every 6 or so concentrating on form and then a length using my comfortable breathing while maintaining the form. I noticed that when I get into a longer distance rhythm, I start dropping my right arm and elbow and not taking quite as hard a pull with my left arm. When I breathe to the other side (right side), it forces me to keep my right elbow up and to take a more powerful stroke with my left. This could possibly account for the difference i noticed in my time.

This is a very long way of saying that posting a video would be very helpful, because it may be something about your stroke mechanics, rather than just turnover rate, although if your turnover is greater when breathing to one side vs the other, that could be a reason.