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wildfleurcotage
February 4th, 2007, 07:47 PM
Does anyone have an advice or inpit for building up your lungs? I am trying to hold my breath for longer periods after reading an article about it but it seems like I should be doing more. I want to get better before I actually join the group in my area.

SwimStud
February 4th, 2007, 11:39 PM
Does anyone have an advice or inpit for building up your lungs? I am trying to hold my breath for longer periods after reading an article about it but it seems like I should be doing more. I want to get better before I actually join the group in my area.

I've read swimming 25's underwater can help. Not sure if you're doing that or just holding your breath and remaining still.

Rich

jim thornton
February 5th, 2007, 12:00 AM
You don't need to build up your lungs. There have been Olympians in various sports with only one lung. It's not the volume of air you can breathe in that's important--it's the amount of oxygen your blood via hemoglobin can extract, how fast this can then be circulated to your tissues, and then how good your muscles have become adapted to extracting the oxygen for use.

Training at altitude can increase your red blood cell counts and hemoglobin levels; I suppose (but don't know for sure) that hypoxic sets where you hold your breath while training might have a similar effect, though it can be a bit dangerous, and I have heard conflicting opinions on how useful this actually is.

Training hard, however, will get the muscle fibers used in swimming to produce what are, in essence, additional oxygen extractors.

One other thing: you might not be inhaling deeply in the first place, or perhaps you're not emptying your lungs sufficiently to blow out the stale air so more fresh air can replace it.

Oh, and the last item: it's the build-up of CO2, not the depletion of O2, that drives that horrible hunger for air during a breath hold. I once did an experiment where I held my breath for 1 min 30 seconds, and using a pulse oximeter, got my blood ox down to 94%. (Normal at sea level is 99 to 100 percent; I was at Boulder, CO, where normal is 98 percent.) I felt really, really starved for air.

Then I entered this engineer's hypoxic chamber, and went up to a simulated base camp at Mr. Everest altitude--18,000 feet. I could breathe in and out at will, blowing off CO2 before it could accumulate in my tissues. I may have felt slightly light headed, but I didn't feel the slightest bit starved for air. The pulse oximeter at this point measured my ox level at 85 percent-- enough, the engineer assured me, to put me in an ICU if I showed up in such a state at an ER.

Training can help you tolerate the feeling of built up CO2 as well, as those free divers who can hold their breathes for 7 minutes plus clearly show.

dorothyrde
February 5th, 2007, 06:09 AM
Yes, sing.

The Fortress
February 5th, 2007, 08:30 AM
I would do some breath control work at a moderate pace. Some 125s where you bilateral breathe and then only take 2 breaths on the last length. Some 100s where you breath every 3, 5, 7, 9 strokes increasing every length. You can also work on breath holding my increasing SDKs while you're swimming free, increasing from 3, 5, 7, to 9 underwater kicks every length before you start swimming. Or just some repeat 25s where you swimming moderately but only taking a couple breaths.

Here's some solid scientific evidence that hypoxic training is just sadism/masochism that Geochuck posted on another thread:

http://web.mac.com/htoussaint/iWeb/S...C67503AFA.html (http://web.mac.com/htoussaint/iWeb/SwimSite/Abstracts/FD4EFC5A-4B99-49F9-B0B0-5B6C67503AFA.html)

fanstone
February 5th, 2007, 10:50 AM
Breathing 101:

1- The urge to breathe comes from an increase in partial pressure of C02 in blood. C02 is a by product of complex metabolic systems involving fuel burn and oxygen, at the celular level. Elimination of C02 is necessary to maintain normal pH (acid-base system) of blood. This urge can be dimished by "mental control" and other factors such as opioid (morphine and similars) presence. The mental control part is the one you can train while swimming and snorkeling. You won't make your lungs "better" or your system " better", but you will be able to hold your breath longer with mental training, which would be subsequent to physical training. The danger of mentally being able to hold your breath longer is that somewhere this breath holding will actually cause your oxygen offer to be less than ideal. A not so rare accident in apnea divers is that they stay longer than they should under water and pass out either deep or shallow on the way back when the pressure changes causes a shift in the oxygen content of their brain. This is not usual while swimming on the surface. So the main way to increase your holding your breath capacity is to train for it and thus get mentally able.
2- If you have a lung problem or some disease that has done damage to your alveoli, or if you are trying to increase your alveolar capacity, then you may exercise your lung. The increase in capacity in a normal lung will be minimal. The exercise most commonly used is to blow air out through some resistance device, or Peep (positive end expiratory pressure). Interestingly, while swimming we expire against a slight pressure under water which on its own causes an increase in alveoli capacity and/or efficacy. Exhaling slowly through your lips will also help.
3- All this above is in accordance to what Jim and Fortress posted. The oxygen usage and carbon dioxide elimination systems are complex and involve many variables, the least of which to us normal healthy swimmers is the lung part of the process. Happy breathings, billy fanstone

P.S. Jim, I was at 5,000 meters altitude and stayed around that altitude for about a week. My pulse oxymeter read about 86. I didn't die, nor did I feel much, except for the occasional longer than usual sigh and light-headness. My red blood cell didn't have time to increase but my physiological system started to adapt as my heart rate came down about 20 beats from 30 beats above my expected heart rate for any given effort. I was hiking in the Everest region. I had a polar and altitude watch turned on most of the time. When my patients breathing air and with some narcotics i.v. drop their oxymetry to below 90 going towards 80, I just watch the curve, or how long they stay low until they start climbing back to the 90s. No big deal. They don't even start to turn blue, which was the older method used to determine oxygenation. Hypoxic training would work out for endurance swimming, not for the usual pool swimming competition. You find blood doping (EPO) in endurance runners or Tour de France type guys. Swimmers have other variables in getting faster or lasting longer than the oxygen part of the problem.

jim thornton
February 5th, 2007, 11:35 AM
Bill--

Thanks for the excellent explication here. Two sideline notes:

1) I took my son to U. Michigan a couple years ago. In 1970, I was the second worst person on the Michigan swim team, and I wanted to show my son the pool where I vomited during practice.

It had been covered over and turned into a volleyball court! A metaphor, I suppose, for what has happened to me...

In any event, we found the new natatorium where Bob Bowman was coaching two distance swimmers. I introduced myself to the coach, who was exceptionally nice (he ended up giving Ben and me a bunch of swag--t-shirts and the like.) Anyhow, I noticed that the two swimmers were wearing swim snorkels and repeating 100 m swims on a ridiculously short interview. I asked the coach if the swim snorkels were being used to help balance/smooth out their strokes. He said not really. Instead, there were diaphram-like membranes in the mouthpiece with a very small hole cut in it. The swimmers had to really struggle to extract air through this hole. I couldn't believe how fast they were going, a feat made all the more spectacular when I learned they were straining to breathe through pinprick sized holes!

Evidently this was a way to train some aspect of their air-processing physiology, though I am not sure exactly what.

2) A magazine I write for is trying to arrange for me to get one of those hypoxic bed-tents that allow you to sleep at altitude and then workout at a normal air-rich environment. In recent years, it seems, the idea that you should train at high altitude has been discredited because you just can't do enough hard work to get in optimal shape. The concept now is to sleep at altitude, to basically "blood dope" naturally, but then work out where you get enough air to really train hard.

Not sure if this will do anything for me except trigger a massive infarction, but I will keep you posted if the tent actually arrives!

poolraat
February 5th, 2007, 11:39 AM
.... I asked the coach if the swim snorkels were being used to help balance/smooth out their strokes. He said not really. Instead, there were diaphram-like membranes in the mouthpiece with a very small hole cut in it. The swimmers had to really struggle to extract air through this hole. I couldn't believe how fast they were going, a feat made all the more spectacular when I learned they were straining to breathe through pinprick sized holes!

Must be a college thing. A kid from here that's a college swimmer has a snorkel with most of the end closed with duct tape. He refers to it as "the torture device".

some_girl
February 5th, 2007, 12:34 PM
You might find this article interesting: http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3871/is_200307/ai_n9270380

Generally, I don't think hypoxic sets do anything but train you to be more comfortable with discomfort. That isn't nothing, but it isn't physiological either.

jim thornton
February 5th, 2007, 01:04 PM
That isn't nothing, but it isn't physiological either.

Some_girl: This may be the most profound use of the double negative I've yet encountered!

Excellent summation.

fanstone
February 5th, 2007, 01:22 PM
The hypoxic set will do what some girl said it would: nothing. It might however train your mind to function in a hypoxic mode. The hypoxic tent however is something else. I know a triathlete close by who bought one (expensive, something in the thousands of dollars). It would be like training up in Lake Tahoe and then sleeping in San Francisco, without having to commute. The science behind this concept is that to train as hard as you can, you should be at sea level, but while you are sleeping "high", your body will produce more red blood cells naturally. I've heard of it used in swimming, but not as much as in running and cycling. billy fanstone

Kevin in MD
February 5th, 2007, 02:37 PM
Here in gas mask land where I work, the physiologists have found no benefit in resisted breathing training, other than being better at resisted breathing.

Other folks have put forth that your ability to suck in air is just not a performance limiter in any way.

On the other hand, your diaphragm DOES take up energy in its own right, I suppose that resisted breathing training could make your diaphragm more economical at what is does meaning it requires less blood supply to do what it is doing.

However to believe this you also have to believe that your heart's ability to pump blood is a performance limiter, I think this may or may not be true depending on the athlete and the distance of the race.

There seem to be lots of ifs in this situation.

I've always figured that controlled breathing for distance events is a pacing device only.

Bill--

Thanks for the excellent explication here. Two sideline notes:

1) I took my son to U. Michigan a couple years ago. In 1970, I was the second worst person on the Michigan swim team, and I wanted to show my son the pool where I vomited during practice.

It had been covered over and turned into a volleyball court! A metaphor, I suppose, for what has happened to me...

In any event, we found the new natatorium where Bob Bowman was coaching two distance swimmers. I introduced myself to the coach, who was exceptionally nice (he ended up giving Ben and me a bunch of swag--t-shirts and the like.) Anyhow, I noticed that the two swimmers were wearing swim snorkels and repeating 100 m swims on a ridiculously short interview. I asked the coach if the swim snorkels were being used to help balance/smooth out their strokes. He said not really. Instead, there were diaphram-like membranes in the mouthpiece with a very small hole cut in it. The swimmers had to really struggle to extract air through this hole. I couldn't believe how fast they were going, a feat made all the more spectacular when I learned they were straining to breathe through pinprick sized holes!

Evidently this was a way to train some aspect of their air-processing physiology, though I am not sure exactly what.

2) A magazine I write for is trying to arrange for me to get one of those hypoxic bed-tents that allow you to sleep at altitude and then workout at a normal air-rich environment. In recent years, it seems, the idea that you should train at high altitude has been discredited because you just can't do enough hard work to get in optimal shape. The concept now is to sleep at altitude, to basically "blood dope" naturally, but then work out where you get enough air to really train hard.

Not sure if this will do anything for me except trigger a massive infarction, but I will keep you posted if the tent actually arrives!

craiglll@yahoo.com
February 5th, 2007, 03:29 PM
Unless you've damaged your lungs at a young age, there is a steady progression downward that happens with all peole. You really can't maske your lunds bigger but you can make them more efficient. That's why they test for red blod cells amounts.

Go blow up balloons.

some_girl
February 5th, 2007, 06:28 PM
That isn't nothing, but it isn't physiological either.

Some_girl: This may be the most profound use of the double negative I've yet encountered!

Excellent summation.

Thanks. I think the rule is you can break all the other rules as long as you do it with style. I'm always pleased to succeed.

jim thornton
February 5th, 2007, 11:47 PM
E.M. Forster in his book The Art of the Novel said that you can violate all the rules as long as you "bounce" the reader along.

Some_Girl, are you by any chance the comedian Lauri Kilmartin in real life. Or somebody Kilmartin?

Allen Stark
February 5th, 2007, 11:51 PM
No breathing sets are probably most benefical as a percieved effort placebo. You think you are working harder so you think it's better. I have seen NO data on any measurable benefit of those breathing restrictors. I guess no breathers may help confidence for SDK and breaststroke pullout. There are many things coaches have you do that may have more of a macho effect than anything else. At the risk of goring a sacred cow how about the "don't breath from the flags in" idea. OK if you swim faster without breathing this makes sense at the finish and in sprints,but it is important to get past the flags on the pushoff and I have seen many people come up too soon because they didn't breathe enough on the way into the turn. It is my understanding that since we are hoizontal while swimming that cardiac output and lung capacity are not nearly as important as capillary perfusion,which is improved by repeated exertions.

dorothyrde
February 6th, 2007, 07:23 AM
On the other hand, your diaphragm DOES take up energy in its own right, I suppose that resisted breathing training could make your diaphragm more economical at what is does meaning it requires less blood supply to do what it is doing.

.

This is why I said sing. To learn to sing properly, you have to learn to use your diaphragm properly. Swimming has helped my swimming quite a bit. Not sure if the reverse is true, since I have been singing all my life and only swimming 6 years.

some_girl
February 6th, 2007, 09:19 AM
Some_Girl, are you by any chance the comedian Lauri Kilmartin in real life. Or somebody Kilmartin?

Ha. No. You can tell because of my feelings on breastroke. I am Laurie Kilmartin with FLY. (Even better.)

SwimStud
February 6th, 2007, 09:30 AM
This is why I said sing. To learn to sing properly, you have to learn to use your diaphragm properly. Swimming has helped my swimming quite a bit. Not sure if the reverse is true, since I have been singing all my life and only swimming 6 years.

OK now we need a little video/audio clip of you singing on the block before diving in and racing. ;)

hehehe I can actually see how that works Dororthy. Getting control of any muscle or reflex is going to help.

dorothyrde
February 6th, 2007, 03:17 PM
Well, I can sing better than I can swim, that is for sure! Working on Mozart's Requiem for a choir I am in, and it is really hard! I need all the air I can get to reach that high B flat.

wildfleurcotage
February 6th, 2007, 07:08 PM
thank you all so much. I've been reading alot of your posts & learning so much from this forum. My holding my breath had been in the water, swimming underwater for as long as possible, thought that would help.

dorothyrde
February 6th, 2007, 08:13 PM
I don't hold my breathe when I swim, I do a slow controled exhale.

islandsox
February 7th, 2007, 01:43 PM
I agree with a lot of what has been written here, but I will say that breath control training is a crucial part of my swim training. What I have found is by doing breathing patterns (one example: breathe every 7,5,3,1 and repeat this over and over) trains my body to use the existing oxygen it has and to train on less oxygen. Over time, my brain and all other components get accustomed to my swimming with less oxygen, but there is a hitch. The principle behind this is be able to do such sets and to stop before that strangulation feeling sets in; if you go too far and are oxygen deprived, it works to hinder this process. So the key is to do such sets and throw in several strokes of breathing every stroke to recover a bit before starting a breating pattern again.

What you will find is a set like above will become very easy, so you do more difficult sets like 11, 9, 7, 5, 3. This is a process, but it comes about pretty quickly; you will see much improvement in a week or two. Three weeks ago, I was doing a sprint drill, different than the above example, but basically 10 strokes ez, 10 strokes fast. and I could only do this for about 100 yards. Today I went 900 yards doing this sprint drill. Our bodies are great engines; we just have to train them and they can still be trained at all ages.

I have many other breathing patterns I use, but the one above is a good example to train your body to swim with limited oxygen.

Donna

dorothyrde
February 7th, 2007, 02:41 PM
I don't think I could do 11's, but I regularily do 9, 7, 5, 3's. It actually helps keep track of a longer set by 100's.

fanstone
February 7th, 2007, 03:17 PM
I have many other breathing patterns I use, but the one above is a good example to train your body to swim with limited oxygen.

Donna

Donna, unless I am grossly mistaken, when doing your sets you are training your mind to swim with what you perceive as less oxygen, but is more a question of the excess C02. Everyone uses the term "oxygen debt", uses the term "oxygen deprivation" and so forth, when most of the time what is the problem is "excess carbon dioxide". The system that perceives a diminishing oxygen content of your blood is slow and not as efficient as the C02 system. Too much information to give here. When you are oxygen deprived, and/or when your lactate levels start going up, when your muscle conductive systems start failing (at the celular level) you swim less efficiently, you lose muscle power. Oxygen will not make this situation better. The 400 and 200 running records aren't simple multiplications of the 100 times because the whole system breaks down, and yes it is called anaerobic versus aerobic but this is at the mytochondrial level. I am feeling confused myself, got to study more this matter. I hope you get what I am trying to say. People who snorkel get better at going deeper over time because of their mental training, which is a consequence of their actual physical activity (diving deeper and deeper). Of course, after a certain level, there are those superhuman guys and girls who can dive to extreme depths (see the movie "The Big Blue") and that is not only mental training but they also have the physical aspect going for them. take care, billy fanstone

jaegermeister
February 7th, 2007, 10:16 PM
I don't know the science of it, but it makes sense to me that the technique of inhaling is underappreciated. This may seem ridiculous, but I think there are a lot of things you can do wrong.
At the most basic level, if you breathe in more air you will do better. Of course, what separates swimmers from other pursuits is that we have to inhale in a very short time. There are at least four details I can think of off the top of my head that can maximize the inhaled volume while swimming freestyle, and I'm sure there are many more. Here's my list:
1) exhaling fully before the breath
2)shaping your mouth so you get clearance with lesser rotation
3) relaxing your upper airway to reduce resistance to the incoming air (I've been guilty of not doing this while swimming backstroke)
4) breathing not just from your diaphragm but from your chest as well.

jim thornton
February 7th, 2007, 11:29 PM
I interviews Michael Phelps for a story on swimming once. One of my questions was how do you breathe? He said he hadn't thought about. I tried to provide options--do you suck in a big breathe and hold it till an explosive blow out? Or do exhales slowly and steadily. He said he honestly did not know-he hadn't thought about it.

At first I found this hard to believe. But later, I thought that maybe the best way to swim is to go with what feels right to your body, and leave it on autopilot as much as possible, no over thinking, no indecisions and hesitations, just enter that primitive brain inside our ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny style evolutionary process that starts out as single celled organisms, moves up in the womb to odd aqautic denizens floating in our own waters, and so forth.

Tap into the wisdom of our incommunicatie forerunners, and hope for the best.

shark
February 8th, 2007, 11:40 AM
A Tennessee Turn (I call them TNT's)will help. We did them and I suppose still do them at UT. Simply, underwater between walls and flags in a streamlined position, turn around underwater and press off the wall in a streamlined position passed the flags. I give my age groupers lengths of 200 - 400yds. High schoolers 300 - 600 yards. If it seems to be too easy, extend the length underwater.

I also incorporate what I call "Gutbusters" 5 x 200 with 1min RI. At the beginning and after every even wall, push off the wall and swim as far as you can underwater, not more than 25 yards.

Once in a while when we are resting. 1-2-2-1's. Another UTer. 5 x 100 at 2:00, 1 breath the 1st 25, 2 breaths the 2nd, 2-3rd, 1-4th. Decrease interval for better result.

"666" is another one but I have run out of time. Let's just say it's very evil.

These help my swimmers learn breath control and I feel increases capacity to hold air.

jaegermeister
February 8th, 2007, 09:04 PM
I thought that maybe the best way to swim is to go with what feels right to your body, and leave it on autopilot as much as possible, no over thinking, no indecisions and hesitations, just enter that primitive brain inside our ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny style evolutionary process that starts out as single celled organisms, moves up in the womb to odd aqautic denizens floating in our own waters, and so forth.

Tap into the wisdom of our incommunicatie forerunners, and hope for the best.

I really like this intuitive approach. Despite my attempt to identify and classify every motion associated with breathing, I seriously doubt I could master all of this in a conscious/reductive process. Maybe in naming some of the breathe-control associated movements we can be aware of them, but when swimming it probably is more effective just to be the fish. Zen and the art of aquatic propulsion.

Paul Smith
February 9th, 2007, 02:53 PM
I've always been a strong believer in hypoxic sets, underwater swims/kicking and use of snorkels. Hard for me to ignore the fact that every elite college program I've ever visited uses these as well.....then again since I'm nearing the age of AARP membership it may be the time to "grow up" and stop acting like a college kid.....or so says my wife!

islandsox
February 9th, 2007, 03:05 PM
Hi Fanstone,

I truly appreciate what you wrote but I absolutely know that breath control training sets with less oxygen has increased my ability to swim/race better. I not only can feel it, I perform much better. It isn't just my brain getting used to swimming without more air, my entire body seems to truly benefit from it. So even though scientifically this may not can be proven, when I race I am grateful I have done restricted breathing patterns as a part of my training. I feel as if the lactic acid just never comes about much. Of course, I will add that I am doing sprinting; 10 strokes ez, 10 fast and continue this pattern and I breath every stroke on the 10 ez, and every 4th on the 10 fast. I have never been a swimmer who fell victim to training things that were of no benefit. If it didn't work, I didn't do it; if it worked, I did it except for hand paddles(shoulders).

And I am sure that many things that may work for one swimmer, may not work for another as we are all unique, inside and out!!!! And the minute something in my training stops working for me, I will find something else that will. So, my apologies to all who believe this limited breath control may be nonsense; I just have to advocate it based on my performances and how I feel when swimming fast for long periods of time.

(PS: we still have very limited Internet service here)

Donna