I am training for my first tri, and I'm very exctied for this new adventure. Like many of you, I am a runner, but have never had any formal swim training. Swimming is very difficult for me. After swimming one lap, I am so out of breath, I have to take a break.
I have been taking swimming lessons for the past two weeks to correct my technique and make my stroke more efficient, hoping this would help my endurance. I have been in the pool 5-6 days per week for the past 3 weeks, and I'm still having a hard time catching my breath. My instructor said that my technique has improved, but I need to condition my lungs. I am doing drills everyday...holding my breath as long as I can across the pool, breathing every 4-5 strokes, etc. This has been frustrating, as I can run for miles, and not be as out of breath as I am swimming one lap.
Is it possible that I am not breathing correctly? Could it be something more than "conditioning" my lungs? I appreciate any advice and guidance you can give me.
In addition to the tri, my goal is to enjoy swimming. Thank you!
I'm in the same situation ,my freestyle breathing is labored. I plan to push thru it but have back crawl as a backup. It also moves the muscle fatigue to the tricepts
I'm in the same boat first tri in 12 days and, granted i only have about a month's pool time - ever - in, i still struggle to get 50m without stopping. i've worked hard on my technique, following the total immersion method, but i still have no endurance in the water whatsoever. help!!!
My problem is that I use my lungs as a floatation devise and take shallow breaths. Underwater drills and relaxing is what I need
Make sure that you are exhaling only when your face is in the water and inhaling only when you take a breath. Many individuals who are new to the pool try to do both while breathing to the side and there just isn't enough time to do this. A simple way to help you with this can be done while in the shower, simply put your face in the stream of water and slowly breath out then turn your head to the side and only breath in. While it is a good idea to eventually try to go farther without breathing this is not a good thing to try while getting used to the water. One of the problems this can lead to is elevating your heart beat this is one thing you don't want to have happen on top of your triathlon. I would recommend feeling comfortable breathing to one side and slowly start to alternate breathe (breathing to both sides) this will help you become an more balanced swimmer. While swimming focus mostly on your reach and keeping a consistent kick, this doesn't have a to be to fast but nice and even. Best of luck!
As a swim and triathlon coach for the past 11 years, I can say that your breathing issues are VERY common among beginning swimmers. Coyotecoach has some great advice to give you, and his advice will definitely help, but I have found the problem is usually more mental than physical. Beginning swimmers (especially those transitioning from being serious runners) usually try to fill their lungs with as much air as they possibly can everytime they come up for a breath. In doing this, you are actually hyperventilating and that is why you typically feel out of breath. Think about it this way: if you are breathing every 4-5 strokes, your head is only underwater for about 6-8 seconds. You simply do not need a complete lungful of air each time. Work on taking only the amount of air you need and not any more and that should help. Good luck with your training!
Hi, I will be doing my first tri next week and have been swimming for almost two months 3-4x's a week. I am a strong runner but the swimming is kicking my ***. I am still trying to conquer the breathing aspect and have gotten better but still have a little fear about getting trampled or swam over and not having an anxiety attack. Do you have any advice to help prepare myself for that day?
Thanks so much!
Thank you! That makes a lot of sense.
Practice, practice, practice!
It's important to practice in the same environment that you'll be racing in. Swimming in a pool is much different than open water swimming. Try to swim the course a few times before the event to familiarize yourself with it.
Try to practice lifting your head out of the water once every 4-5 strokes or so to get a good look at where you're going (you're not going to have the benefit of lane lines!)
Also, just know that there will be a little "trampling" going on, so make sure you're prepared for getting bumped a few times. To minimize this, try to stay on the sides of the group rather than smack in the middle. Mentally, you should think of trying to swim like a school of fish, try to keep the same distance between you and the person in front of you and try to stay in their bubbles from their kick (its actually kinda fun too). This does two things: 1) It keeps a good pace 2) It keeps you from going off course (still look around for yourself though, you still don't know the credentials of the person you're swimming behind!)
MOST IMPORTANT: Don't take off too fast during the swimming part! Don't feel bad if you need to do sidestroke, and make sure you know your pace! In open water it is much harder to judge how fast you're going, so when you're practicing in the pool, start thinking about how your body FEELS when you are going a solid pace rather than always looking at the clock.
I've read stuff over on Total Immersion that seems to imply that simply improving technique will allow one to swim for miles without losing one's breath. Isn't swimming an aerobic activity that would still require improving one's endurance as well (forgetting about speed). I have improved my technique quite a bit but still can't swim for more than a quarter mile (or less) without getting quite tired. My endurance is improving, but it seems that it's practice that will allow me to swim the distance, not just making sure my technique is perfect.
Yes, you are exactly right. I've been swimming for 16 years and every time a new season starts it takes me about 2 solid kick-butt weeks to feel fluid in the water again. I know my technique is fine, it's because I'm out of shape! While Total Immersion techniques have revolutionized swimming and have brought the sport of swimming a LONG way, there is definitely no substitute for hard work and practice. While technique accounts for a lot in the sport of swimming, it is still a sport that requires training and lots of yardage to master. It sounds like you are making good progress, keep up the good work and remember, it is a PROCESS not an EVENT!
THANKS!!! I was getting worried that I still was doing it wrong (I might, but at least I know that its not ALL technique)
1st tri on Sunday - ocean swim!
I'm glad I could help! Good luck with your ocean swim! (If you've been practicing in a pool the ocean swim will feel really good, the salt water tends to make you a little more buoyant and it is easier to stay on top of the water!)
Good luck and have fun!
update - well the triathlon has come and gone, and along with it, the ocean swim. although the water was nice and flat, it didn't quite go as planned. i made sure to stay back and let the pack get out in front, but that didn't help too much. pretty much as soon as the water got too deep (i made the mistake of trying to stand, the bottom was deeper than it looked), i basically paniced and couldn't do a freestyle stroke to save my life. looking around a lot of the other first timers were in the same boat as me, though, most swimming with their heads out of the water rather than looking down as you're supposed to. anyways, not one to give up, i turned onto my back and mostly backstroked (or some form of backstroke) the entire 1/4 mi plus. 25 min later i was on the beach again!!! i finished strong on the bike, and did so so on the run.
anyways, i was kinda down on myself after the swim until i looked at the results and saw i wasn't even close to the last one getting out of the water (time-wise that is). there was one guy that took 43 min. so, i'll chalk this up to inexperience and hope the next race goes better (lake swim in 2 weeks). i figured if i didn't sign up for another race right away, i might never get back in.
Well congratulations on the triathlon!! You are OFFICIALLY one of us!!!! Don't worry about the swim, that will get much easier with more experience. Open water swimming is really hard, it gives even the most experienced swimmers issues. You are definitely doing the right thing in signing up for another swim so quickly, experience really does count for a lot. I remember my mom's first tri (because I did it with her on Mother's Day). We made a pact that we would finish together no matter what since it was Mother's Day. So, she waited for me on the run (she's the runner, I'm the swimmer) we rode about the same pace on the bike and then I waited for her for a very LONG time on the swim. She basically did the same thing you did, she made it about 50 meters doing freestyle and the rest of the swim was spent on her back. We were almost dead last in the entire race, but we made a pact that we would finish together and that's what happened! Everyone who was left at the race clapped and cheered for us because they thought it was great that we were finishing together, regardless of how long it took us. The triathlon world is so small that we really do help and support anyone who wants to join it. Sure, there are the hard-core triathletes that are out to win it, but for the most part, we don't care how fast you do it, just as you're out there doing it.
Keep up the good work!!