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Thread: Newbie Swimmer - Breathlessness and Mental Barriers

  1. #1
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    Newbie Swimmer - Breathlessness and Mental Barriers

    Hi Fellow Master's Swimmers!

    I'm a fairly new swimmer and started to regularly swim since the March of this year. I've been slowly working on improving my freestyle technique and my endurance. I have to say that I have seen slow improvements in my technique. focusing mainly on my balance -- keeping my head down and engaging my core to keep me balanced. I'm working on my breathing but I still have some breathlessness after swimming 25 yards. At the beginning of my swimming adventure, I was sucking air after completing a length. Today, I am winded, but not as much. Nonetheless, I still have some breathlessness. My endurance has improved as I was able to swim 200 yards total, but now swim to 600-700 yards. And my rest intervals after each length have shortened to seconds. So, I am happy about the improvements. However, I am having this mental/psychological block of continually swim with no rest. I know I can do it and I have the endurance, but I just have this barrier or maybe a fear of continually swim. What am I afraid of? And I'm not sure how to break through this mental barrier. Any suggestions?

    I am currently swimming 2-3 times a week. Each session is about a hour and about 600-700 yards. Most of my workout is drills on improving my balance mixed with drills to improve my pull/catch, rotations. And kicking drills too. I did take a few private lessons and was fortunate to find a great Master's team that was able to practice with and the coach has been great with giving me guidance on my technical improvement.

    Anyway, I've enjoyed my swimming adventure. I actually like working out and look forward to my swimming workouts!

    Cheers!

  2. #2
    Very Active Member ForceDJ's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie Swimmer - Breathlessness and Mental Barriers

    It doesn't sound to me like you're afraid of anything, and I don't think you have any barriers. You are working hard, and you are steadily progressing! It seems you have a plan for continued improvement. Just keep doing what you're doing (i.e. finding and doing drills for improvement). Good job!

    Dan

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    Re: Newbie Swimmer - Breathlessness and Mental Barriers

    Thanks ForceDJ for the encouragement! Sometimes, I've been impatient with the slow progress in my swimming technique, but I'll continue to plug away. One of these days, everything will click and all those drills will be worth it. -Joe

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    Active Member airborne18th's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie Swimmer - Breathlessness and Mental Barriers

    Quote Originally Posted by josene433 View Post
    Hi Fellow Master's Swimmers!

    I'm a fairly new swimmer and started to regularly swim since the March of this year. I've been slowly working on improving my freestyle technique and my endurance. I have to say that I have seen slow improvements in my technique. focusing mainly on my balance -- keeping my head down and engaging my core to keep me balanced. I'm working on my breathing but I still have some breathlessness after swimming 25 yards. At the beginning of my swimming adventure, I was sucking air after completing a length. Today, I am winded, but not as much. Nonetheless, I still have some breathlessness. My endurance has improved as I was able to swim 200 yards total, but now swim to 600-700 yards. And my rest intervals after each length have shortened to seconds. So, I am happy about the improvements. However, I am having this mental/psychological block of continually swim with no rest. I know I can do it and I have the endurance, but I just have this barrier or maybe a fear of continually swim. What am I afraid of? And I'm not sure how to break through this mental barrier. Any suggestions?

    I am currently swimming 2-3 times a week. Each session is about a hour and about 600-700 yards. Most of my workout is drills on improving my balance mixed with drills to improve my pull/catch, rotations. And kicking drills too. I did take a few private lessons and was fortunate to find a great Master's team that was able to practice with and the coach has been great with giving me guidance on my technical improvement.

    Anyway, I've enjoyed my swimming adventure. I actually like working out and look forward to my swimming workouts!

    Cheers!
    With breathing work on exhaling completely. You can do that with yoga breathing exercises that will strengthen your breathing muscles. Right before you are about to do your breath, you should push out the remaining air with a push of the diaphragm. This can be difficult for those who have a hard time keeping the core engaged while swimming. So best to start with dryland breathing exercises.


    For the distance tolerance at least the mental and physical side.. instead of thinking in distance... think in time. target 8 min swims as your goal.. then progress from that.
    TSAC-F,Swim Speed Secrets - STGRID

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    Re: Newbie Swimmer - Breathlessness and Mental Barriers

    Thanks Airborne18th. I will be more conscious about my breathing, engaging my diaphragm. Aah...good idea. I track my running progress by time instead of distance, why not my swimming progress? I'll take that in my next swimming session. Cheers!

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    Active Member airborne18th's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie Swimmer - Breathlessness and Mental Barriers

    Quote Originally Posted by josene433 View Post
    Thanks Airborne18th. I will be more conscious about my breathing, engaging my diaphragm. Aah...good idea. I track my running progress by time instead of distance, why not my swimming progress? I'll take that in my next swimming session. Cheers!
    The short answer about time vs distance is that workouts are fundamentally about the amount of time and intensity. You need to build your endurance base, and swimming continuously is more important than pace or distance at this point. It is about doing work at an aerobic steady state, and every week increasing the amount of work.. building aerobic capacity..

    And working on your core muscles is never a waste of time.. breathing and your swimming form are both relying on you to work your core.. Your breathing when stressed from working out requires different muscles than when you are just sitting around or walking around.. ( it is why people get side stitches when they workout.. weak breathing muscles ).
    TSAC-F,Swim Speed Secrets - STGRID

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    Re: Newbie Swimmer - Breathlessness and Mental Barriers



    Just wanted to say hello and throw out a few ideas of things to think about. You're obviously more experienced than me so these may be things you're already doing. Breathlessness has just been one of my biggest issues so far, and so it's something I've been trying to work to correct. I've been swimming since June, only once or twice a week, and am finally to where I can swim freestyle 100 yds at a time without feeling like I'm going to die.

    1) Make sure you're not holding your breath, even a little. Sometimes I exhale, but not fully. Or I exhale and then hold a bit and then realize I'm holding and exhale more. I'm currently working on slow, full exhales through my nose, not mouth, and I do notice when I do it correctly, I don't get as winded.
    2) Breathe more often. I find I can swim farther if I breath every other in freestyle vs. every third stroke. All of my other strokes I breathe every stroke right now and often feel less winded with those than I am with freestyle.
    3) Kick less with your legs. At least where I am now, the harder I kick my legs, especially in something like freestyle, the more I get winded. My arms seem to have more mileage in them.
    4) Pace yourself. I'm not particularly good at this so I really have to focus on this.

    Feel free to ignore if none apply to you, and anyone else feel free to correct me on anything that is just bad advice!

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    Participating Member Zwemmer's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie Swimmer - Breathlessness and Mental Barriers

    Congratulations! Sounds like you are doing really well. And what ForceDJ said, too, as well as what seems to me like great advice on breathing. That endurance will most likely come simply with more practice.

    I'm also dealing with some breath issues. I returned to swimming after a 30-year break and am having some success recognizing the line between breathing hard because of working hard & that gasping, uncomfortable feeling that means I've pushed myself too far too soon. I'm developing new practice habit since the ones from college don't work as well right now. Ha!

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    Re: Newbie Swimmer - Breathlessness and Mental Barriers

    Josene - It sounds to me like you are working hard. Maybe too hard. Perhaps you could think more about gliding through the water, taking large, regular breaths, and not kicking too hard.

    When I let myself get out of shape (all too often) and I'm coming back, the first week or two, I use "relax" as my mantra. Every other stroke. "relax (breathe) "relax" (breathe) "relax" breath.

    It matters very much that I swim three time a week or more. Speed and intensity are mainly important as a hazard. If I swim, I'll get in shape. If I wear myself out, it will just make me feel bad after the workout.

    After you can easily swim half a mile or more, then, yeah, push yourself. Until then, IMO, the best you can do for yourself is to feel good in the water.

    You might consider a lesson or two. A little technique can ease your flow through the water - and a lesson is often a pretty good workout in itself.

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    Re: Newbie Swimmer - Breathlessness and Mental Barriers

    Thanks for the feedback and encouragement Floaty, Zwemmer and Mick! I have been more conscious about fully exhaling when my face is in the water. Breathing out through my nose on exhale seems to help me too as I think it helps with a more controlled breathing. I like the "Relax" mantra and I will try to more conscious about my kicking and take it easy. Yes, I need to think about gliding too and try not to expend unnecessary energy. Happy Swimming!

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