I have actually done several sprint tri's but I am such a bad swimmer and it just doesn't seem to click. I take clinics I join master's group and I have great form so I am told by everyone who teaches me. I just can't get the breathing down. Therefore my endurance sucks! I want to do a half ironman in Nov 2010 but I am so worried about swimming that it is holding me back from the commitment.
I read articles on swimming and I have not seen anyone address with a beginner the actual breathing part. I know breath out under water and breath in when you turn your head, don't lift your head too far out of the water. I know all those things how do I teach my body to respond?
HELP! (Marianne do not reply to this LOL)
If I am not panicing, I breath every 4th stroke, only on the right. If I am feeling winded and panic, I breath every other stroke. Any advise is welcomed and appreciated.
If you're having breathing problems, then just breath every other stroke from the get go. No reason to task your cardiovascular system by breathing every 4th if you know breathing is going to be a problem as you go along.
Pretty much the key part of swimming the freestyle is rolling the shoulders. It impacts EVERYTHING... including breathing. Essentially you can picture a pole going through the top of your head and coming out... well between your legs. Your body should rotate on the pole... and all that breathing entails is letting your head turn with the rest of your body to the side... rather then keeping it focused on the bottom of the pool.
The other thing to look at is at what point in your stroke you're breathing. If you see your hand going by your face... you're breathing too late. Again, if you're rolling your shoulders properly, you should be fully on one side when you have one hand entering the water in front of your head and the other finishing the stroke next to your leg. At this point you should be in the middle of your breath. As you bring the arm on the side you're breathing to out of the water, you're reversing the direction of your roll and putting your face back in the water... by the time your arm is coming past your face your body should be flat... and your face back in position staring at the pool bottom.
Rotating your body cannot be stressed enough. It impacts everything... from breathing to a hydro-dynamic streamline position to proper arm and leg mechanics. If you aren't rolling your shoulders... you simply aren't going to have an efficient stroke... and that means a lot more effort expended on the swim then you'd like.
I do think I am not rolling properly when you put it in that kind of detail. I think I always see my hand. OK I am printing this out and am going to try and swim tomorrow.
We have had a snow "storm" here in NC and of course everything shuts down. So hopefully I can get to the Y and work on this.
Thanks! This what I love about the sport and this forum ! Everyone is so friendly and always welcome to help a newbie ! It is greatly appreciated. I will keep you posted.
Dave Scott & active.com have some great, short, easy-to-follow videos on youtube. Definitely check them out. http://www.youtube.com/user/ACTIVEdotCOM#p/u
Also Natalie Coughlin has some great articles and videos too.
Others on breathing: http://www.active.com/swimming/Articles/4_Steps_to_Easy_Breathing_in_Freestyle.htm
One from Terry Laughlin: http://www.active.com/swimming/Articles/Breathing_mechanics_that_will_help_your_freestyle.htm
I know you mentioned having read a bunch of articles, but in case others are interested, I thought I'd share the links.
Best to you,
Sara Cox Landolt
My Masters coach had me do something that helped. He has me do a set devoted to aerobics strength. Two laps breathing ever other stroke, then two laps breathing ever 4 strokes, then two laps breathing every 8 strokes. Then back to two (or ever stroke). It was a real struggle at first, but it is working.
Train how you should race. You should breathe every other stroke preferably (or every 3rd) and be able to breathe to both sides. If you are training by breathing every 4th stroke you will quickly go anaerobic. Remember most of our races are longer swimming distances (>400m and aerobic) and not sprints. The race doesn't end after the swim so you don't want the lactate to build up too soon.
Here are a few ways to train: 1) breathe on one side going down the lane and then on the otherside when coming back (breathe every time you stroke to that side); 2) breathe every 3rd stroke 3) breathe on the right side for 3 strokes(breathing everytime you stroke to that side) then stroke 3 times and switch to breathing to the left side for 3 strokes and then switch back.
If you want to breathe every 4 strokes on your shorter distance intervals, that's fine but on your longer intervals breathe more often.
Also, make sure you are exhaling almost fully before you roll to take your breath (begin to exhale as soon as your face enters the water),roll and inhale fully and quickly and then turn your head into the water (leading your body roll) before your recovery arm goes forward.
When it hurts, smile.
If it doesn't hurt, you're not going hard enough.
Now, I am not yet a strong swimmer, but I disagree a bit. I breathe every 4th because that's how long it takes me to expel the last breath. If I breath every other stroke then I quickly go anaerobic because I'm not getting enough air exchanged.
Everyone is different and should do whatever makes them feel the most comfortable (e.g., relaxed) in the water during training and especially during a race. I train and race just like Doc Tri describes and it works quite well for me.
I've tried every 3rd but at this point in my somewhat short swimming career it doesn't work for me (I know, I know... if I was more efficient...).
I read an article by Paula Newby-Fraser several years ago regarding her training. During training she would breathe every 3rd stroke but when she raced the Ironman she would breathe every other (trying to stay aerobic).
Watch the olympians for proper technique. There is a good video clip on YouTube for the 2000 Olympics men's 1500m swim where Grant Hackett beat Kieren Perkins. It shows their technique for breathing and it also shows their form under water (high catch, staying long, pulling in a straight line, etc.)
They are breathing every other stroke, mainly to one side but occasionally switching to the other side. We all have a dominant side and come race time if you're able to use it, go for it. But if the wind, waves, sun or course rope won't let you then you have to be prepared to use the other side.
I try to learn from the best and then adjust my form or training to theirs.
When it hurts, smile.
If it doesn't hurt, you're not going hard enough.
I didn't see this mentioned but I got the Total Immersion "Freestyle made easy" video and the drills, especially the "skate drills" really helped my breathing and my balance in the water. Now, I am not a strong swimmer but I was much better able to do the distance after going through the video and the drills. One thing I do to practice is to really slow down my stroke so that as I roll to breath I practically float on my side until I finish my inhalation. What I don't have down is how to go faster. Stroking faster doesn't seem to speed my up, it just tires me out. I read or saw somewhere that propulsion actually comes from the "core" (hate that phrase) at the point when the hand enters into the water and I'm going to try that out when I get back into the pool next week.
I am not a strong swimmer by any means, nor an expert and like you, I am still learning to properly breath however my endurance has increased by spending more time in the pool. Perhaps it's getting used to working with the water rather than fighting it. The longer I stay in the pool, the more comfortable I get and my breathing becomes more efficient. Unfortunately, we do not get that luxury in competition. IMHO, I learned to experiment breathing every fourth, third and every stroke as well as learning to breath from both sides. The only way (for me) to have learn this was to use a Pull Buoy between my legs. This kept my body in a straight line and allowed me to concentrate on my stroke and breathing while keeping me afloat. I learned to roll my body and to look for the sky or ceiling when turning my head and shoulders to take a breath (especially on my weak side) to find my comfort zone for that day. I have also found that alternating between every stroke and every fourth stroke works for me on longer distances. Using some of these tools really helped me focus on specific techniques without over exerting myself.
Breathing is a skill to master before trying advanced swimming strokes. Learning to breathe while swimming will enable rapid progress. All that matters is breathing in and out, breath in quick and deep and breath out long, slow and relaxed. Leave your head low and get your mouth out of the water by rotating, not lifting your head. The more you practice, the easier it will become.