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Thread: Frustration galore -- breathing

  1. #1
    Participating Member
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    Oct 2018
    Raleigh, NC

    Frustration galore -- breathing

    Freestyle crawl

    Raleigh/Cary, NC

    I am new to swimming as an elderly adult. I have read books, watched DVDs, and watched YouTube over and over again regarding proper kicking, posture, rotation, high elbow catch, hand entry into the water, and breathing.

    When I use an ordinary snorkel, I can swim length after length, 100s and hundreds of meters, without fatigue and with reasonably good form. (Still, I continue to work on strengthening my lats, pecs and core for even more strength and stability.)

    But, as soon as the snorkel comes off and I have to breath, I can't get breathing into a rhythm. After 25-50 meters I am huffing and puffing and very discouraged. I am sure I am just turning my head for that "quick breath" (looking straight down to the pool bottom the rest of the time), breathing out from my nose while my head is in the water, but something I cant figure out is terribly wrong.

    To be able to swim "forever" with a snorkel and swim hardly at all without a snorkel just doesn't make sense to me.

    It's very discouraging.

    Any ideas or help you can offer as to 1) why this is happening and 2) how to fix it will be truly appreciated.


  2. #2
    Very Active Member Sumorunner's Avatar
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    Jan 2016
    Latham, NY

    Re: Frustration galore -- breathing

    Using the snorkel is not helpful at this stage. Because of it, you are probably just keeping your whole body straight and level. It's not a matter of simply turning your head. You whole body has to rotate and as you raise an arm, the shoulder also comes out of the water, then the head will be free enough to breath without much rotation at all.

    Breath out when the face is down using both mouth and nose. Blow it out strongly and completely so as soon as the face is free, you can take in a normal, not gasping, breath. Check out the picture here.

  3. #3
    Very Active Member Swimspire's Avatar
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    Aug 2013

    Re: Frustration galore -- breathing

    It's great that you seem to have done plenty of research and learning to develop your knowledge of swimming. As you know, every tool - whether it is fins, snorkel, paddles, etc. is used for specific purposes. I'm curious as to what made you decide to start out with the snorkel, and how much time did you spend swimming with the snorkel as opposed to swimming without the snorkel?

  4. #4
    Very Active Member orca1946's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    schaumburg, il - U S A

    Re: Frustration galore -- breathing

    Are you blowing out a lot of air when your face is in the water? If not then. that may be why you can't get a breath in the allow swimming in a normal pattern.

  5. #5
    Participating Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2009

    Re: Frustration galore -- breathing

    Are you sure you're just rotating your head, and not lifting it, to inhale? The book I'm using (Fitness Swimming by Emmett Hines--yes, I realized I've crossed the line into obnoxiously plugging it) has you spend a great deal of time kicking while lying on your sides, arms held still, so you can feel just where the water line should be when you're properly positioned. Once you get comfortable with that, you learn to turn your head without changing anything else that your body is doing. Might be worth a try.

  6. #6
    Very Active Member
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    Apr 2003
    Blog Entries

    Re: Frustration galore -- breathing

    What Sumorunner said. Dump the snorkel and start over. Rotate. When I had swimmers who had trouble with this it was one of two things: They held their breath then when turning to breathe they had to blow out all the air and get new air (and got hypoxic) or they were robot swimming, staying level with the water (shoulders horizontal) instead of rotating. Belly-button to the side of the pool, or you're gonna get a neck ache!

    A good drill is 6-1-6 from Swim Smooth. Give it a try.
    --Mike Tyson (yes, my real name)

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