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SwimEagle
March 9th, 2015, 02:11 PM
Hi all,

I've been following the USMS forums for a while now and just registered. I swam USMS in grad school as a 24 year old and now swim masters (age group B!) in South America. I love swimming down here but most coaches are about 10 years behind in technique/innovation, so I basically rely on friends who are coaches in the US and swim sites to stay up to date.

It's pretty obvious that elite mid and long-distance swimmers breathe every cycle now, but have any of you forced yourselves to break a 3-5 habit and start to breathe every 2? I was taught to ALWAYS breathe every 3-5 and after 20-some years of that, I'm wondering if it's worth it in a race (specifically 200, 400/500). FWIW, I have major rotator cuff problems (who doesn't?!) with my right shoulder and seem to extend less with my right side than my left and am concerned breathing every cycle in practice would make that worse.

Gary P
March 9th, 2015, 03:33 PM
I used to start a 500 yard free breathing every three, then switch to every two when I started feeling out of breath (usually around the 200y mark). When I started breathing every two from the beginning, I dropped 10 seconds right a way. More air is better. The trend for middle distance and distance may go beyond breathing every two, with some swimmers now occasionally taking breaths on consecutive strokes, particularly before or after a turn.

I can't give you any tips how to make the change other than to tell you to just do it. Because of the many years experience breathing every three or five, you should try both sides and see if one is more comfortable for your shoulder situation. My guess is that left side breathing, with a hybrid hip/shoulder driven technique, would be effective with your asymmetrical reach.

orca1946
March 9th, 2015, 04:49 PM
Welcome. I was in the breathe every stroke club till I started Masters . I have tried to do bi-lateral, but I only do it for a few each length. I find ,for me, that every is easier. I also do distance events since I only had 10 fast twitch fibers to sprint and they have since retired. LOL

Swimspire
March 9th, 2015, 07:21 PM
Hi SwimEagle! Welcome to the forum. First of all, I know your quip about rotator cuff problems was meant to be light-hearted, but just want to point out that rotator cuff problems are not a pre-requisite to being a swimmer! They are usually an indication of poor technique, which is something that can be corrected!

Back to your original question, however, you can certainly breathe evens instead of odds, but do try breathing both sides (for example one length to your left side, one length to your right). This will ensure that you do not put too much pressure on one side of your body, and will allow you to be proficient at breathing to both sides when necessary in a competition.


This is a good video that shows how you can practice varying your breathing. I coached this team for a number of years and some of the swimmers ended up being featured on GoSwim!


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AF5jO8sgkbE


Good luck!

ForceDJ
March 9th, 2015, 10:59 PM
I agree with GaryP...the more air the better. And, I just like to breathe as needed. I've been swimming for almost 35 years and essentially always been a bi-lat breather. But I do it a little differently than most (I think). Depending on how hard I'm going, or just how I feel...I may breathe two consecutive strokes on left, then two consecutive on the right, etc. OR...I might to three left, three right. Maybe even alternating lengths and sides like swimspire. Sometimes right before I flip at the end of a I might take a quick left and right breath on consecutive strokes...more air to get me through the turn/push-off/glide.

Dan

gdanner
March 9th, 2015, 11:37 PM
It's definitely worth it. I was taught to breathe 3/3 and switched to 2/2 I think my senior year of HS and never looked back.

ande
March 11th, 2015, 02:08 PM
breathe on the side that is best for your shoulder.
We are humans we need air. It's best to breathe every 2 on longer events.
It's totally stupid to limit your breathing on mid distance and distance races,
putting 3 to 5 strokes between breaths on 200's & up is idiotic.
I'd like the coach who recommended that to race an 800 or 1500 & show me how he breathes every 5 & I'll get his splits.


Watch Sun Yang's race footage. He's only the LCM 1500 world record holder. He breathes every 2 & sometimes he double breathes or breathes every stroke in and out of turns.
We are humans we need air.

How many strokes do you take per length?
figure out how many breaths you get per length

Swimspire
March 11th, 2015, 03:33 PM
breathe on the side that is best for your shoulder.
We are humans we need air. It's best to breathe every 2 on longer events.
It's totally stupid to limit your breathing on mid distance and distance races,
putting 3 to 5 strokes between breaths on 200's & up is idiotic.
I'd like the coach who recommended that to race an 800 or 1500 & show me how he breathes every 5 & I'll get his splits.

Ande, everything is relative and depends mostly upon how you train. I think we need to be careful about how we label other individuals' training or race decisions, even if we disagree with them. It is perfectly fine to critique or offer opinions, but you can probably rephrase your thoughts to ensure that no one feels let down or discouraged. There may be plenty of swimmers who have raced and trained this way all their lives, and had success with it. To each his own, but let's keep a positive tone on the forum.

SwimEagle
March 11th, 2015, 04:43 PM
Thanks everyone! Our season starts next week so I'll try breathing every 2 right off the bat and see how it goes.

scyfreestyler
March 11th, 2015, 05:30 PM
I just posted this link on the 100 Fee breathing strategy thread, but this seems like a good place to copy and paste as well.

http://swimswam.com/5-tips-for-breathing-every-two-effectively-and-the-breathing-patterns-of-5-olympians/

Jazz Hands
March 11th, 2015, 09:41 PM
Ande, everything is relative and depends mostly upon how you train. I think we need to be careful about how we label other individuals' training or race decisions, even if we disagree with them. It is perfectly fine to critique or offer opinions, but you can probably rephrase your thoughts to ensure that no one feels let down or discouraged. There may be plenty of swimmers who have raced and trained this way all their lives, and had success with it. To each his own, but let's keep a positive tone on the forum.

Uh, sure, but ande is right. It is stupid to limit your breathing in distance races. There's a reason we call them "aerobic."

__steve__
March 11th, 2015, 10:11 PM
3 to 5 strokes between breaths on 200's & up is idiotic. Even Chris, with 3 lungs, probably doesn't try that

Allen Stark
March 11th, 2015, 10:43 PM
There was a common drill 20 yr ago that still pops up with some coaches of doing sets with some variation of 3/5/7 breathing.I think under some(rare) circumstances it may be useful for some swimmers.Unfortunately some coaches used it more for a test of toughness.Some swimmers then began to think that this was a good way to swim distance.I think experience in this mode of training leads to some of the vitriol against any technique that artificially restricts breathing in a race(over 50.)

Swimspire
March 11th, 2015, 10:52 PM
Yes, agree with you, Allen. In any case, the whole point of this post was to encourage the OP to breathe bilaterally, regardless of what pattern he chooses to use. Breathing patterns vary widely among swimmers, and during a race itself. A swimmer may switch breathing patterns during mid or long-distance races. It is just disrespectful to label one particular way of training or racing 'stupid' because you yourself don't consider it feasible.

SwimEagle
March 12th, 2015, 09:48 AM
I certainly think there's value in breathing less in certain sets at practice and I agree that it makes zero sense to breathe every 5 during a race over 100, it's like shooting yourself in the foot (or the lung?) from the start. Calling it 'stupid' is just a less polite way of saying 'zero sense' and there's really no argument there! I wasn't asking about breathing from a hypoxic/aerobic argument, but more of a balance/efficiency argument. After reading all of your replies, I'll work on breathing every 2 to both sides and see how each affects my rotation and shoulder.

Swimspire, don't worry, I also work with a trainer who has developed a workout specifically for my rotator cuff issues :) I'm a big fan of Finis's agility paddles too, which keep me from nursing my bad shoulder and falling into bad technique.

ourswimmer
March 12th, 2015, 10:59 AM
Probably you are faster breathing to one side than you are breathing to the other. If so, just breathe to your faster side in pool races. In open water, where the races can be much longer and where hazards or the sun can impair visibility, breathing to your slower side might make sense for a race. But those considerations just don't occur in the pool.

If you want to maintain the ability to breathe to either side I join the recommendation to do it in practice by lengths or by sets (e.g., always breathe to the west side of the pool, or breathe L on this set and R on that one). When you simulate racing in practice, though, breathe like you'll race.

gull
March 14th, 2015, 06:39 PM
Ryan Cochrane breathes every third. He was ranked second in the world last year in the 1500.

I began breathing every third about ten years ago. My stroke became more symmetric, and my shoulder problems resolved. I train that way.

Last year I swam Masters PRs in the 1500 and the 1650 breathing every third.

__steve__
March 15th, 2015, 01:31 PM
. A big factor - maybe stroke rate, lung volume, vo2mx, etc.

arthur
March 16th, 2015, 01:49 AM
Ryan Cochrane breathes every third. He was ranked second in the world last year in the 1500.

I began breathing every third about ten years ago. My stroke became more symmetric, and my shoulder problems resolved. I train that way.

Last year I swam Masters PRs in the 1500 and the 1650 breathing every third.
I just watched a couple of Ryan Cochrane's races. He starts breathing every 3 but switches to every 2 a little after half way.

Swimspire
March 16th, 2015, 02:31 AM
I just watched a couple of Ryan Cochrane's races. He starts breathing every 3 but switches to every 2 a little after half way.

This simply reinforces my earlier point: breathing patterns vary widely among swimmers, and during a race itself. A swimmer may switch breathing patterns during mid or long-distance races. There is no right or wrong breathing pattern - it's all about how you train and what you achieve with the pattern you choose.

ElaineK
March 16th, 2015, 12:40 PM
This simply reinforces my earlier point: breathing patterns vary widely among swimmers, and during a race itself. A swimmer may switch breathing patterns during mid or long-distance races. There is no right or wrong breathing pattern - it's all about how you train and what you achieve with the pattern you choose.

You have made excellent points on this thread, Julia, and I absolutely agree with you on them. Thank you for your excellent contributions to the Forums! :applaud:

orca1946
March 17th, 2015, 04:26 PM
I always go to right side breathing when in most races. I do try to throw in a few to the left to stretch my neck during longer races & practice sets.

Swimspire
March 17th, 2015, 08:45 PM
You have made excellent points on this thread, Julia, and I absolutely agree with you on them. Thank you for your excellent contributions to the Forums! :applaud:

Elaine, thanks so much !

knelson
March 18th, 2015, 11:45 AM
Something I like to point out that I think is often missed is that swimmers have a pretty wide range of stroke lengths. Some elite men are probably taking 11 strokes per 25 yards, and I'm sure there are petite women who crank it up to 20 strokes per length. The man in this example would only get 3-4 breaths per length by breathing every 3, but the woman would take 6-7. That's a huge difference and I think explains why women tend to breath every three more often than men do.

pwb
March 18th, 2015, 02:34 PM
Something I like to point out that I think is often missed is that swimmers have a pretty wide range of stroke lengths. Some elite men are probably taking 11 strokes per 25 yards, and I'm sure there are petite women who crank it up to 20 strokes per length. The man in this example would only get 3-4 breaths per length by breathing every 3, but the woman would take 6-7. That's a huge difference and I think explains why women tend to breath every three more often than men do.

Great points, Kirk.

My two cents:

Learn how to and be comfortable with bilateral breathing

Your certainly will want this capability if you do any OW swimming, especially any ocean racing


Learn how to breathe efficiently with limited disruption to your stroke (e.g, watch Nathan Adrian for his super quick breaths and almost no break in stroke cycle)

For me, this is the hardest part


Breathing more is generally preferred as the race gets longer
Figure out what works best for you

I grew up being taught to breathe every three
I know I'm faster breathing every two to my left
But, I get to feeling too unbalanced if I only breathe to my left
My solution in SCY/SCM then is to take two breaths to my right off the wall, do one 3 stroke cycle and then breathe every 2 on my left to the wall

SwimEagle
March 26th, 2015, 12:49 PM
Something I like to point out that I think is often missed is that swimmers have a pretty wide range of stroke lengths. Some elite men are probably taking 11 strokes per 25 yards, and I'm sure there are petite women who crank it up to 20 strokes per length. The man in this example would only get 3-4 breaths per length by breathing every 3, but the woman would take 6-7. That's a huge difference and I think explains why women tend to breath every three more often than men do.

That's really interesting! I'm a 5'3" woman and am on the higher end of that stroke rate spectrum. As for my two week update, change is HARD. At first I felt ridiculous, like I was breathing way too much. I haven't noticed a change in the quality in my training, but that could be because I'm so concerned with head placement, proper reach, etc. I've been breathing to the same direction so that I breath to opposite sides on the way up and way back and can feel that it's much easier breathing to my right, but because of my history with my right rotator cuff, I want to be sure to keep working on proper technique with that side. I'll stick with my regular breathing for 50s/100s, but am excited to see any changes (read: potential time drop!) once I finally get a chance to race the 200/400/800!