I swim like a tractor

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    Jan 13, 2011 6:24 AM GMT
    Ok, so my stroke is actually good, my problem is with breathing. I feel like I'm currently doing 1 part swimming and 9 parts drowning.

    I start off fine, but after I swim a few laps, I feel like I'm only getting a fraction of the air I should. Or worse yet, I don't rotate far enough, and I take on a little water at which point I start to get panicky then it all goes to hell.

    I breathe every 3 strokes, and I usually have plenty of time to take it in. Anyone have any tips? Is this a conditioning issue or a technical one?

    How did you all learn to breathe well on the freestyle?
  • Bunjamon

    Posts: 3161

    Jan 13, 2011 1:22 PM GMT
    I had a coach.

    There are some great videos about learning proper breathing techniques on Youtube, if you haven't already looked there.

    Breathing every three strokes is good because then you're remaining balanced and not favoring one side over another.

    You don't want to rotate too much. Your head should not be coming out of the water. If you're doing the stroke properly, even at a slow speed a trough forms around where your ear is when you're face down in the water, so you only have to turn your head slightly in order to breathe.

    It also sounds like endurance is the issue here, if after a few laps you're seemingly out of breath. When you get this feeling, slow it down a bit, concentrate on technique, do some breathing and stroke drills (again, great videos on Youtube of these things) and as your swimming fitness gets better you will gradually be able to increase your speed without feeling like you're gasping for air.
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    Jan 13, 2011 1:26 PM GMT
    The previous suggestions are all great but I would add breathing every 2 strokes until you develop your technique. Every length of the pool change breathing sides. As you get more comfortable and stronger you can go back to every third stroke.
  • LJay

    Posts: 11612

    Jan 13, 2011 1:28 PM GMT
    Perhaps related to my clogged sinuses, I never did get it. My solution was the backstroke and the sidestroke.
  • laxdude25

    Posts: 604

    Jan 13, 2011 1:29 PM GMT
    I hear you. I grew up surfing, so I am a pretty good basic swimmer, but totally inefficient. My kids joke that with the energy I expend as I swim laps I could power Manhattan. I am about to start training for a tri, so I am looking locally for a buddy who can give me tips on swimming technique. In NYC, it should be easy. Otherwise, check out your local Y, and maybe get a few coaching sessions. A good basic set of instructions will make all the difference. Good luck!
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    Jan 13, 2011 1:43 PM GMT
    Bunjamon saidI had a coach.

    This is it. A good coach can watch you, know what you're doing right or wrong, and especially based on your own style. Good suggestions above here, but a coach is like a doctor, who needs to see you in person.

    BTW, I used to swim in an indoor training pool the Germans built for the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, that somehow survived WWII. It was famous for having a glass strip along the bottom, with a tunnel below for coaches to follow and observe the swimmers above. I actually was allowed down there to see it, though no longer used. And have a kinda funny story about my Army Lieutenant ex-wife and some nude Berlin firefighters there.

    Today, of course, we have underwater video cameras, and slow motion and motion analysis software. They'll even affix targets to your body at key points to better study your motions. If you're serious, work with a coach.
  • asana

    Posts: 53

    Jan 13, 2011 4:50 PM GMT
    Breaststroke icon_smile.gif. You get to breathe on every stroke.
  • iHavok

    Posts: 1477

    Jan 13, 2011 4:51 PM GMT
    dude, your topic headline is my favorite EVER.
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    Jan 13, 2011 5:03 PM GMT
    I don't know if this is a problem for you, but are you exhaling under water? From my experience as an instructor, people attempt to exhale and inhale when they rotate their heads for a breath; causing limited oxygen intake. I suggest attempting to keep a somewhat normal breathing pattern and breath every two strokes.
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    Jan 13, 2011 5:10 PM GMT
    cdub341 saidI don't know if this is a problem for you, but are you exhaling under water? From my experience as an instructor, people attempt to exhale and inhale when they rotate their heads for a breath; causing limited oxygen intake. I suggest attempting to keep a somewhat normal breathing pattern and breath every two strokes.


    I would add that every two for now is right. Also, relax. If you start obsessing about the breathing you will create a "man-made" anxiety which increases the pace of breathing. Feel your body's rhythm.
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    Jan 13, 2011 5:16 PM GMT
    iHavok saiddude, your topic headline is my favorite EVER.

    Yeah, though I commented to him in a post above, I did wonder: "How does a tractor swim?"
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    Jan 13, 2011 5:48 PM GMT
    I thought this meant you always ended up on the bottom of the pool.
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    Jan 13, 2011 6:34 PM GMT
    Thanks for the advice.

    When I did tried every 2 strokes, I felt like I had to really force the air out to catch the next stroke, and that was a lot of work breathing.

    As for relaxing, I know I'm way too tense. The same thing used to happen when I started running, so I'd listen to my MP3 player. Can't really do that underwater. Guess I could try to distract myself with something else.

    Art_Deco saidI did wonder: "How does a tractor swim?

    Not very well icon_lol.gif
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    Jan 13, 2011 6:43 PM GMT
    You need to exhale when your head is down and not breathing. You don't want to exhale and inhale all while your head is turned to the side. That may be why you pause too long when you are breathing. also, if you exhale slowly underwater and then breathe when you turn your head, that will be similar to how you breathe on land, a constant in and out, which will relax your body more and not freak out and panic as much. without swimming, go in a shallow part of the pool and submerge yourself, push all your air out and then when you are all out, simply stand up. this will start to get you comfortable with exhaling under water.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jan 13, 2011 6:45 PM GMT
    If you look at my profile pic, you can see some air bubbles on my nose. just thought of that.
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    Jan 13, 2011 6:47 PM GMT
    jprswim saidYou need to exhale when your head is down and not breathing. You don't want to exhale and inhale all while your head is turned to the side. That may be why you pause too long when you are breathing. also, if you exhale slowly underwater and then breathe when you turn your head, that will be similar to how you breathe on land, a constant in and out, which will relax your body more and not freak out and panic as much. without swimming, go in a shallow part of the pool and submerge yourself, push all your air out and then when you are all out, simply stand up. this will start to get you comfortable with exhaling under water.


    This is all well and good unless you subconsciously incapable of exhaling while 'underwater.' I have the same issue as the OP, but I can't open my eyes underwater, even with goggles on, let alone exhale.

    I think, well, I know if comes from growing up swimming in all the murky, dirty ponds and creeks on the farm. I've even gotten in the pool with goggles and attempted to FORCE myself to open my eyes...and I just can't do it!

    I've sought assistance before but nothing seems to work. So I'm forced to swim inefficiently and tire quickly. The rest of my body movements are fine. I have very smooth arm work in the pool...I just, for what seem to be purely psychological reasons, can't exhale at the proper point.
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    Jan 14, 2011 12:22 AM GMT
    RunintheCity said
    jprswim saidYou need to exhale when your head is down and not breathing. You don't want to exhale and inhale all while your head is turned to the side. That may be why you pause too long when you are breathing. also, if you exhale slowly underwater and then breathe when you turn your head, that will be similar to how you breathe on land, a constant in and out, which will relax your body more and not freak out and panic as much. without swimming, go in a shallow part of the pool and submerge yourself, push all your air out and then when you are all out, simply stand up. this will start to get you comfortable with exhaling under water.


    This is all well and good unless you subconsciously incapable of exhaling while 'underwater.' I have the same issue as the OP, but I can't open my eyes underwater, even with goggles on, let alone exhale.

    I think, well, I know if comes from growing up swimming in all the murky, dirty ponds and creeks on the farm. I've even gotten in the pool with goggles and attempted to FORCE myself to open my eyes...and I just can't do it!

    I've sought assistance before but nothing seems to work. So I'm forced to swim inefficiently and tire quickly. The rest of my body movements are fine. I have very smooth arm work in the pool...I just, for what seem to be purely psychological reasons, can't exhale at the proper point.


    If you didn't have formal swimming lessons as a child it can be difficult as an adult to learn good techniques by yourself. Find a really good swim teacher/coach to help you. Most often it is small little changes that helps greatly. A good teacher that has worked teaching adults can get you through your fears correct your head body positions and get you on your way.

    Many Y's and places that teach swimming or see if there is a master swim program in your area. Some of the guys that are in the program are like me high, college swimmers and coaches. Happy to help if you are in the area
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    Jan 14, 2011 12:27 AM GMT
    stringman saidThe previous suggestions are all great but I would add breathing every 2 strokes until you develop your technique. Every length of the pool change breathing sides. As you get more comfortable and stronger you can go back to every third stroke.


    As a high school varsity swim coach - I concur with the advice of the stringman!
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    Jan 14, 2011 12:29 AM GMT
    iHavok saiddude, your topic headline is my favorite EVER.
    Yup.

    I would have also accepted beer keg, ski chalet, cactus, Datsun or tile saw. But tractor kicks.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jan 14, 2011 12:48 AM GMT
    I grew up swimming in the ocean. I can body surf, dive under waves, and all that. But, for the life of me, I can not do any proper swimming stroke that involves my head being in the water. I even had swimming lessons, but I could never master breathing during freestyle.
  • mke_bt

    Posts: 707

    Jan 15, 2011 7:43 AM GMT

    My first swim coach Walter (I would have done anything to please him) taught me how to breath while doing the free-style stroke.
    Practice just the breathing part. Bend over with your face in the water. Or float while grasping the side of the pool. Chin forward not tucked toward your chest. This makes for a more efficient movement. Now just practice this for awhile and you should develop a rhythm.
    I hope this helps as it's kind of hard to explain without demonstrating it.
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    Jan 18, 2011 3:03 PM GMT
    I agree with JPRSwim - the key is exhaling under water - you simply don't have enough time to breathe in and out while turning your head. Exhaling slowly and deliberately before you turn your head will make everything seem slower and it will be more comfortable.
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    Jan 18, 2011 3:33 PM GMT
    jprswim saidYou need to exhale when your head is down and not breathing. You don't want to exhale and inhale all while your head is turned to the side. That may be why you pause too long when you are breathing. also, if you exhale slowly underwater and then breathe when you turn your head, that will be similar to how you breathe on land, a constant in and out, which will relax your body more and not freak out and panic as much. without swimming, go in a shallow part of the pool and submerge yourself, push all your air out and then when you are all out, simply stand up. this will start to get you comfortable with exhaling under water.


    That's the right way to do it.
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    Jan 19, 2011 6:54 AM GMT
    UPDATE
    I switched back to breathing every two strokes like you guys recommended, and as long as I exhaled fast enough, it worked pretty well. I think I just need to build up more endurance now.
    Thanks for the tips

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    Jan 20, 2011 4:33 AM GMT
    averagejoe saidUPDATE
    I switched back to breathing every two strokes like you guys recommended, and as long as I exhaled fast enough, it worked pretty well. I think I just need to build up more endurance now.
    Thanks for the tips



    Wait... I'm having a brain-fart. Breathing every two strokes would mean breathing on the same side each time, correct?