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AndriaL
April 24th, 2017, 05:33 PM
I completed my first Masters competition this weekend in the 100m Free which I'm proud of. However, during the last 15m of the race I began to hyperventilate and had to actually grab on to the lane rope in order to get my breathing under control as I felt I could not catch a single breath. Was totally embarrassed to say the least.


I actually think I went out too fast as compared to what I normally pace myself while in practice. Secondly, I was nervous before the race as this was my first competition but I wouldn't say extremely nervous. So both factors may have contributed to the hyperventilation.

Any suggestions on how to prevent this in the future? I don't want this to get into my head and be a stumbling block moving forward. Has anyone else experienced this while swimming and what did you do to overcome?

m2tall2
April 24th, 2017, 09:13 PM
There's kind of a lot going on in your question. Keeping a good controlled breathing technique while swimming should prevent hyperventilation (but not panic, even seasoned swimmers can suddenly panic given the perfect mental storm). I've however seen newer swimmers cause hyperventilation by either holding their breath when their face is in the water or turning their arms over so rapidly while breathing every stroke cycle that they don't have time to really inhale or exhale. These are technique pieces you can work on on your own or with a coach.
Going out too fast in a race is normal. With practice you'll figure out how to pace yourself better for the distance you are swimming. As a kid "pacing myself" in the 100 was totally out of the question. Now I need to ease off a bit on the first 25 to have enough gas for the last 15 yards.
When I feel panicky for some reason, usually a perfect combination anxious personality, over exhaustion and over thinking the race, I find it helpful to remember that I can slow down. No one is forcing you to swim fast. You can take one or two slow controlled strokes or breaths before resuming picking up the pace.
I truly believe that just given more time in the pool and practice you'll be able to race a 100 and be really happy with the whole race, without feeling embarrassed. And I emphasize "feeling" here because no one else was bothered one bit by your lane line hug.

Katherine Neustadt
April 25th, 2017, 08:41 AM
I work with a lot of new masters swimmers and find that hyperventilation is often a result of not exhaling fully before inhaling again. It's worse during races, because you're concentrating on the speed. When you're practicing, be sure to exhale fully before breathing again. I suffer from this, usually when swimming hard sets with little rest. When it happens, I take a short rest, then swim nice and relaxed freestyle being sure to blow out a steady stream of bubbles every time my face is in the water.

ssumargo
April 25th, 2017, 09:37 AM
I only had 2 meets so far, and both times the coach told me the same things. For the 50y freestyle sprints, breathe as little as possible. Since I was a newbie, he suggested 3 times the entire sprint. But for the 100y and 200y events, he says breathe hard (meaning full exhale and full inhale) from the beginning and keep a rhythm. For the sprints, the first 25y, I was pretty quick, ahead of everybody else in the same heat, and then the last 25y, I just slowed down, all tanked out. For the 100y and 200y, I did what the coach told me to do, the first 50y, I was behind but close to most people in my heat but by the time I was on my second 50y, I was catching up if not already ahead. So pacing and keeping a breathing rhythm really helped me. Of course, I was on the slowest heat, so I was with the newbies or the slower seniors.

AndriaL
April 25th, 2017, 09:34 PM
You have no idea how much your post meant to me. I felt terrible after my lane line hug and wanted to crawl into a hole but your comments helped me. Thank you for your advice!

AndriaL
April 25th, 2017, 09:36 PM
Thank you Katherine for your advice!

julieannjohn
May 4th, 2017, 01:52 PM
I actually think I went out too fast as compared to what I normally pace myself while in practice. Secondly, I was nervous before the race as this was my first competition but I wouldn't say extremely nervous. So both factors may have contributed to the hyperventilation.


This happened to me in my 2nd indoor triathlon. The swim is 10 minutes. I swam 17 lengths. My first 25 was 20 seconds and I had never been THAT fast. I certainly didn't keep that pace up. I don't know what I was thinking but I sure as heck wasn't thinking about pacing. During the months leading up to it, I had swum 21 lengths (525 yards) under 10 minutes! A big learning experience for me. Sorry it happened to you but glad to know I'm not alone.