View Full Version : New here with a question . . .

September 26th, 2005, 05:38 PM
I just recently started swimming. I am 57, a breast cancer survivor, but was always one to exercise until January when I tore a cartidge in my knee. In search of exercise I could do and not affect my knee, I tried swimming laps and absolutely love, love, love it! I am a pretty good swimmer, but have trouble breathing. I have been swimming for about an hour, three times a week for three months. I feel much stronger as a swimmer now, but can't seem to get past the "can't catch my breath" feeling. Any suggestions would help! Thanks

September 26th, 2005, 06:00 PM
Get yourself a bouy at the local swim shop and use it for a week or two to help make your stroke easier and more relaxed. Then take if off for sections of your workout (i.e. ween yourself off slowly). Watch out though... bouys and fins are addictive, and you can easily get dependent on them which is not good.

You could try the reverse and wear a drag suit. That would make it feel easier when you wore your regular suit.... but I have a feeling the results could be a bit disasterous.... :-)

Masters swimming........ it's about humor.

John Smth

Matt S
September 26th, 2005, 06:57 PM
Or if you really want to feel good about yourself, you could make the Good Smith (or your usual training partners) wear the drag suit while you wore a normal one. Heck, try an anchor.

Seriously, while your face is in the water, exhale steadily and continuously. When you turn your head to the side to breath, inhale while your mouth clears the water. As soon as you turn your face back into the water start exhaling again.

Do not waste time when your mouth is out of the water exhaling. Breath in only. Similarly, don't try to hold your breath when your face is in the water, exhale the whole time. You want deep "yoga breaths" while you are swimming.


September 26th, 2005, 07:45 PM
Also, try not to focus too much on the breathing aspect. If you think too hard about it the other aspects of your stroke will suffer and you'll end up freaking yourself out about not getting enough air. That's not good either.

September 27th, 2005, 02:48 AM
I have far less experience than these other guys but I'll try to contribute. I think Matt's answer was really good but beyond that you may have some limitations. I improved my freestyle breathing by finally deciding to breathe mainly on the side that I prefer (instead of breathing equally on both sides). You can add backstroke to your rotation and use backstroke as a recovery stroke so you can swim more continuously. Also, if you are not certain your technique is solid (freestyle especially), you could be limiting yourself there. As someone with asthma (severe allergies really) and very likely allergic to chlorine, I have unfortunate limitations myself. Cycling and running bring out my best, but not swimming. I can only swim continuously if I swim slow (or backstroke only). I've been working on swimming faster faster but my breathing is not getting better better. Perhaps I should go back to the steroid nose spray instead of trying to go drug free like an idiot. The cold water of the outdoor pool is also not conducive to the swimming I've been doing.

"Seriously, while your face is in the water, exhale steadily and continuously."

Well actually I don't know about that. If this is 100% proper then I rarely breathe right. If I exhaled steadily and continuously I would have to take three times as many breaths as I take and I already breathe every stroke about half the time I'm swimming freestyle. I like to breathe out the most just before I get my face out of the water to breathe in.

September 27th, 2005, 06:46 AM
Gjy, I find that a lot of asthmatics breathe in that way, so it may be that is the best way to breathe for you. I learned to swim 5 years ago, and seem to just go into the slow exhale breathing naturally. I like to breathe in 5's, 3's if it gets to be a real long hard set.

One thing that helped me when I first started was to slow way down at first. That cannot catch your breathe feeling may be because you are trying to go too fast at first. Swim really slow for the first 200-500 and let your body get used to swimming, used to the way the oxygen is delivered. Around the 200 mark for me is when it gets a whole lot easier and more effortless. A lot of beginners just try to go too fast at first and fight the water and the breathing.

September 27th, 2005, 07:51 AM
"... let your body get used to swimming, used to the way the oxygen is delivered. Around the 200 mark for me is when it gets a whole lot easier and more effortless."

This is very much the way I have to proceed too.

"... slow exhale breathing naturally"

That description I like too. The first time I read the one sentence from Matt I thought it was real good but the next time I took it more literally. I don't think exhalation is constantly uniform (if that is what was meant) except maybe when I am sprinting or tired. I breathe less at the beginning of each lap so I don't have enough air or need to exhale much continuously and when I'm not breathing every stroke the exhalation is a lot less continuous than when I am. I believe most of us have natural bursts of exhalation. I think one reason I breathe better on my right side in freestyle is because, for some reason, I exhale better and stronger just before I breathe in. When I breathe on the left side, I have trouble blowing out before I breathe in so I don't seem to take in as much air. I suspect this could be asthma related even though it's the same whether my left nostril is blocked or the right is blocked (often one of them is blocked - both blocked is really bad news).

September 27th, 2005, 08:33 AM
Another way to work on the breathing aspect is to hold your arms out straight while kicking against the wall. Try to focus on the top of your head being the pivot point so you are not lifting your head to breathe. Most beginning swimmers will lift their head (to varying levels) to get that breath. The more you lift the more you struggle, or atleast that's the way it feels. Once you become comfortable with the breathing against the wall, try it while kicking with a kickboard and then incorporate it into your swimming. Good Luck and remember the hardest part is getting up in the morning to go jump in a cold pool. The next hardest is jumping in the pool. Finally, its the workout. See it's not that hard!