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Swimming and breathing help pls!

(37 Posts)
MarvinMarvinson Mon 11-Mar-19 13:48:40

I went to my first swim session with a triathlon club on Friday. I can do the basic old lady, head out of the water breast stroke and know the principals of front crawl but breathing/keeping my head under the water has always defeated me. So the coach at the session gave me a pull buoy and advised me to just use my arms doing front crawl and try and get comfortable with breathing under the water. This worked well and by the end of the session I felt much more comfortable and could swim a few lengths without really stopping.

Today I went swimming on my own and repeated the exercise and felt good again so did a few lengths without the pull buoy.

I feel a lot better but am still out of puff after only one length front crawl. Is this a fitness thing (I do run so I'm reasonably fit) or am I trying too much too soon and would be better off going back to the pull buoy?

Any tips gratefully received!

GOODCAT Mon 11-Mar-19 13:55:43

Nothing useful to say but I feel your pain. I can't get to lessons so slowly taught myself to breathe on breast stroke by doing one proper head down and breathe each length and then slowly upped it until I could do a whole swim session without risk of drowning. This took me a really long time.

I am now doing the same with front crawl. I can do a length now but have to do a length out breaststroke in between. I think it is the breathing but also my fitness.

Watching with interest though.

BikeRunSki Mon 11-Mar-19 14:02:27

I swim and run. I imagine your breathlessness is to do with technique rather than fitness. With front crawl, I turn my head to the side and take a deep breath every second stroke, then exhale underwater gradually. Some amazing swimmers I know breathe every third stroke. Apart from that, I think it’s just timing and practice. Have you tried using a snorkel to breathe, and just concentrating on your stroke?

avocadochocolate Mon 11-Mar-19 14:12:45

I think you need to build up your swimming-specific fitness and also practice your technique. Essentially just give yourself time and keep persevering. It sounds like you are doing the right things.

FWIW, I never used to be able to breathe on both sides in front crawl. I kept on trying and kept on trying and could never do it...... until one magical day, I could suddenly do it as if I had always been able to do it.

Good luck!

MarvinMarvinson Mon 11-Mar-19 14:26:00

Thanks all.

The coach at the session said my stroke looked OK, he also said he'd used a snorkel initially but found he was back to square one as soon as he perfected his stroke and tried without it. That makes me a bit wary to be honest.

I'm trying to figure out how many arms to do before I breathe. 2 doesn't feel enough, I end up still exhaling and taking a quick gasping breath when I turn my head and I get out of puff even quicker. 3 feels more comfortable I think.

Sounds like perseverance and acknowledging that this will take a while to perfect is going to be key!

MarvinMarvinson Mon 11-Mar-19 14:27:45

Oh one thing I definitely do wrong is I struggle to turn my head to breathe rather than kind of lift it. I think it would help if I could just turn/roll to the side. I think when I lift me head my feet sink which makes the stroke harder.

HeyMicky Mon 11-Mar-19 14:33:40

Are you fully exhaling? You need to completely empty your lungs by the end of the last stroke otherwise you have to both finish the exhale and inhale when you take a breath. Bubble bubble bubble!

MarvinMarvinson Mon 11-Mar-19 14:39:54

That's exactly the problem if I only do 2 strokes! I was told bubble bubble breathe grin

I actually tried 4 strokes today which sometimes felt more comfortable than 3 as I'm not always fully exhaling by the end of 3.

AornisHades Mon 11-Mar-19 14:42:38

You do need to roll your head, yes. Keep one ear in the water and only roll far enough to get your mouth out. Don't attempt to look forwards or up at the ceiling.

dementedpixie Mon 11-Mar-19 14:43:11

When my kids took lessons they took a breath every 3rd stroke. The head turns to the side rather than lifting the face out

MotherForkinShirtBalls Mon 11-Mar-19 14:45:33

I breathe every four strokes, so just find what is most natural for you. Until you get the hang of it, try drills turning your whole body to the side to breathe. It will take more than a couple of sessions to find your form! You should be tilted in the water anyway as you are stretching with your front arm so it's an exaggeration of that form. Swimming fitness and running fitness are completely different for me (I can swim 2km slowly but without stopping but I'm struggling with the early weeks of couch to 5k) so try not to compare and feel like one is lacking.

babysharkah Mon 11-Mar-19 14:47:08

It's fitness and technique. I've been swimming for years, club as a child and cannot do bilateral breathing. It's also practice. I breathe every three but always to the same side.

MarvinMarvinson Mon 11-Mar-19 14:50:47

Thanks so much, this is all so helpful. I'll keep working on that roll/turn - I'll definitely try turning my whole body. Just my head doesn't seem to get my mouth clear enough and I'm scared I'll get a gob full of water. I've actually seen my kids being taught that - the swimming teacher seemed to hold their outstretched arm up on top of the water while telling them to properly turn their whole body.

BikeRunSki Mon 11-Mar-19 16:32:51

This thread has encouraged me to try more than 2 strokes between breaths.

MrsPnut Mon 11-Mar-19 16:35:47

I do a type of popeye mouth shape to breathe in, so I only need to move half of my face out of the water and still don't get water in my mouth.

MarvinMarvinson Mon 11-Mar-19 16:43:46

OK, popeye mouth is worth a try.

CMOTDibbler Mon 11-Mar-19 16:44:03

Think about your chin sweeping over your collar bone and onto your shoulder to breathe - it'll keep your chin (and therefore head) down, and so your feet up. And make sure you really breathe out properly - it should be continuous. Humming can help to keep a nice soft exhalation

BringbackCharlie Mon 11-Mar-19 16:57:24

I'm not sure you have the breathing right at the moment, letalone the position.

If your pool will let you use one, get hold of a swim snorkel (not a scuba one) and practice swimming and breathing out almost constantly...then a swift breath in. If you find water going up your nose, try a noseclip for a while.

Once you get the hang of breathing (and hopefully swimming streamlined) THEN try without a snorkel.

Then practice rotating with one arm out front and the other at your side kicking. It will take a couple of lengths to get the hang of it.

Good luck OP

Loopytiles Mon 11-Mar-19 17:00:32

I think it’s technique. I once had a term of adult swimming lessons with a local company, which was v good, people in the class had varied fitness and goals. Lots of good swim instructors about where I am (London commuterbelt), a private lesson or two might be good!

MarvinMarvinson Mon 11-Mar-19 17:03:58

Thanks both - really helpful. I'd been debating a nose clip actually as I only seem able to breathe out through my mouth under water for some reason. I agree, I definitely have work to do on the breathing. I'm going to continue to focus on that for now.

hairygodmother Mon 11-Mar-19 17:08:49

Haha Popeye mouth describes it perfectly. I breathe every third stroke so that I'm breathing both ways. But you could try doing lengths where you breathe every two in one direction and then every two in the other direction so you get used to doing both sides. Definitely get in the habit of exhaling the whole time your face is in the water

Re the breathlessness, I find the first ten lengths are the absolute worst and then after that you find a rhythm.

hairygodmother Mon 11-Mar-19 17:11:39

Also, I learned to swim properly as an adult (in my 30s!). I had one-to-one lessons and it made a huge difference so maybe you'd just need a few to perfect the technique?

MarvinMarvinson Mon 11-Mar-19 17:13:39

Yes I had been wondering about adult lessons actually. I might see if there are any locally

hairygodmother Mon 11-Mar-19 17:14:47

I was the only adult learner the swimming teacher had, but she was fab and I think she really appreciated the novelty. Totally worth it.

daisychain01 Mon 11-Mar-19 17:16:25

I'm a bi-literal breather, alternate sides every third stroke, which made a significant difference to my technique but it needs a lot of practice. Reducing actual effort, then enables you to glide through the water with as little side to side movement as possible.

If you don't wear goggles and a hat, definitely get some (Zoggs either online or most swimming pools is the best brand).

Also see if you can borrow a pool buoy (or buy if you want to invest - about a tenner), which you grip between your thighs, as this gives you plenty of buoyancy and stability so you can focus on your breathing. After a while it becomes 2nd nature and you'll be like a fish 🐟 🐠

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