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Swim breathing

[8D] Any advise on breathing techniques please. I can swim 50+ lengths breast stroke but struggle with crawl unless I use a snorkel. I can just about manage 4 lengths then need a few deep breaths before continuing. I've tried breathing on 2nd, 3rd and 4th stroke. Letting air out slowly, keeping air in, swimming slower, keeping calm. Any more idea's???


  • TurtleTurtle Posts: 29
    Hey Jude,

    I'm quite new. I started swimming in January. But, I think most accomplished swimmers - which I'm not yet - would agree...

    Breathe out under water. Breathe in every third stroke. This is called Bilateral breathing (breathing on two sides).

    If you time it right, you'll be finished exhaling right as your face (or half your face) comes out of the water to catch some air. I'm not there yet. I still blow out some air at the end before inhaling.

    Best Regards,

  • LuckyLucky Posts: 137
    I'd also suggest looking at getting some lessons

    I was in a similar position (and after 3 lessons my breast stroke is faster and more efficient than my crawl) the problem (for me anyway) was certainly in my technique, although I could trash up and down after 2 - 4 lengths of crawl I was dead, however we a few tweaks to my technique I can do batches of 6 - 8 lengths fairly happily and now I'm just getting in the practise... The money on the lessons is certainly being well spent, not sure I'll be relying on my crawl just yet, but towards the end of the season I hope to complete a race using crawl. (then I'm going to do TI course during the winter)
  • JudeJude Posts: 11
    Thanks turtle and Lucky. I'll try the bi-lateral breathing again and maybe slow down.
  • polyotterpolyotter Posts: 17
    Forget about your breathing (well as much as is possible!) just find which method suits you (sir!) either trickle - where you take your breath, this should be as your arm is pushing as far back as possible at the end of the stroke and just starting to recover, (coming over the water) and then return your head to middle (looking forwards and down) before that same arm enters the water agian (there is plenty of time to take a breath in the time it takes your arm to move over the water), continue to breath out under the water through either your mouth, nose or both (breathing out through the nose stops the water going up!) or explosive breathing, take your breath same timing and positioning as in trickle however this time you hold you breath until just before you turn for your next breath and then forcefully exhale. Do thius unilaterally - every 2/4 or 6 strokes or preferably bilaterally - 3/5/7 stokes this is a more stable stroke. Try to forget about breathing it will become natural with practice instead when swimming frontcrawl try to focus on your hand entry and the phase immediatley after try to reach as far forward as possible rotating your shoulders to get further reach, count your strokes try to keep the same number each length or ideally decrease them, in a 25m pool aim for no more than 23 then each stroke will be 1m (allowing for a push off from the way) by concentraining on your stroke your mind will be taken away from the breathing. Hope it helps
  • LuckyLucky Posts: 137
    Was practising the whole reach bit yesterday at the end of my swim session, and in spite of being tired from an hour long training swim I did my fastest lengths just by reaching forward each stroke, with the added rotation this gave my body the breathing became a lot easier.... looking forward to practising this more next week....
  • PC67PC67 Posts: 101
    I'm a poor swimmer so my advice mightn't count for much. I used to be completely out of breath after even short distances, mainly because I wasn't breathing properly.

    Two things have really helped me though:

    Exhale completely before coming up for air. As a reflex when your mouth comes out of the water you take in air immediately. If you're still exhaling when your mouth comes out of the water you're wasting time and you end up gasping in air, not taking a proper breath.

    Body rotation: good body rotation gives you time to bring your mouth and nose out of the water & get a good breath.

    Advice from a complete amateur but I find it helps.

    I've loosely been following the TI book & DVD. I haven't the time or inclination to deconstruct the stroke and do all the various drills that TI puts you through to arrive at the final version.

    Instead I focus on "pushing my buoy", staying long, elbow-led recovery and a very exaggerated (gfeels to me anyway) body rotation. By this I mean almost sideways in the water, tummy button not facing the wall but more like the angle of wall and ceiling (depends how high the roof is!).

    I've found this a real help, especially in breathing and one very useful hint for a long haul swim is when you're in need of a good breather, just roll over into the TI "Sweet Spot" position for a few seconds.

    However, I had a video lesson about 6 weeks ago and was told that a major error was my rotation. My length times suggest otherwise though. A good rotation leads to a couple of seconds off my length times.

  • KarlOnSeaKarlOnSea Posts: 28
    Hi -

    It's technique - for sure. Two things to do:

    1. Buy one of the Total Immersion books and work your way through the drills. These basically teach the muscle memory stuff about each element of front crawl / freestyle.

    2. Once you've got it more or less right, have a couple / few professional lessons to fix anything that you haven't sorted yourself.

    This is basically what I'm in the middle of doing now. I'd spent about six months doing the stuff in the book, but had basically hit a plateau for the second half of this. So although my stroke was super smoothe and efficient (17 strokes for a 25m pool), I ended up completely knackered after no more than about 5 or 6 lengths (150m), and would have to revert to breast stroke.

    So on Wednesday this week, I finally bit the bullet and got some professional help. The coach put me right on a couple of obvious things, and yesterday I swam 300m in a single stint, and 400m this morning. OK, so it's not 2.4 miles, but it's a start!

  • JudeJude Posts: 11
    [:)] Thanks for the advice, i've been getting stronger and more confident so not worrying so much about breathing. I'm working on all sorts of things now such as rotation, reach, catch but next I want to swim more open water and preferably with others kicking and splashing. I've mastered bilateral breathing and been to an olympic pool for longer lengths. Did anyone ever say triathlons are easy?
  • artikartik Posts: 26
    I would thoroughly recommend a book called the fit swimmer by Brems - 120 workouts & training tips.Covers all sort of techniques and sets to get better swimming.

    Wait till you get to open water swimming now that is really fun.
  • JudeJude Posts: 11
    [;)] Thanks artik, i'll look that up on Amazon.

    Did my first Tri last month and got a shock at the difference in open water from pool training.

    I've now contacted a local tri club to train with them and i'm going to the Lake District asap to practise there.

    Not falling for that shock again.

    cheers and good luck yourself.
  • I am so pleased I checked this site out. Jude, you are asking a question I asked and to degree still ask. Until 6 months ago I could only do breast stroke - in fact I think I could swim forever using breast stroke BUT as soon as I tried crawl I was a disaster - a 5 year old could swim better.

    The bottom line - I took 1 session of coaching, followed the rules which were basic and acknowledged their observations (I'm due for my next coaching session and I know it's gonna hurt [;)])

    1. I used my legs too much which used up all my oxygen - legs give little effect so best used to balance rather than propelling

    2. breathing - as already mentioned bilateral

    3. technique which only comes with practice.

    The bottom line is that against all odds I completed my first ever sprint tri using crawl (18.24) not such a good time and on a par with my breast stroke and worth persevering. My next goal is 19 August (have a hamstring injury to sort first !!!) and I am aiming at under 18 mins.

    Good luck - if I can do it anyone can - it's practice and technique.

    BTW - if the upload has worked out you will see our tri tradition - after every triathlon it's a bottle of bubbly. We get a few weird looks but it's fun and worth doing all the work for. [:)]

    Warm Regards 0021

  • LuckyLucky Posts: 137
    Top job, I did the same on the swim, did a couple of coached sessions, my 750m time is now 16 minutes, 2 months ago I couldn't do more than 50m....
  • JudeJude Posts: 11
    Hi secret agent 0021 and Lucky.

    Thanks for your replies and sorry i've not replied sooner.

    It's nice to know that other people had the same problems and have sorted them out.

    I'm going to the National Relay event on Sat 11/08 so will be able to test out my new techniques.

    If you are going, make yourself known. I'm on team 92.

    Good luck and good times,

  • I could never do crawl until about a year ago - I just put the lengths in and tried to get the breathing right and it obviously worked because I got 32 minute OD swim in sea at Bournemouth. Since then it has gone downhill!! I have the TI book and am considering going right back to the beginning but think I will feel a bit of a nob doing the drills in my local pool and amunsure as to how much it will actually improve my swimming. Would appreciate comments from people who have used this book before as to its validity, or at least some encouragement for when I look silly!!
  • i'm quite new too, i started swimming in july,

    i also used to breathing under water, the longest time i can insist on is 1 minute.

    but when i diving to 2 or 3 meters depth, i only hold 30s [&o].
  • I breathe every third stroke. That way I alternate sides, which makes my stroke more even.

    You can try slowing down to help you not need to breathe so much. Also, take deep breaths. Other than that, you'll need to take swim lessons.

  • Have you tried just breathing on every stroke, on your favoured or easier side? And maybe exaggerate your body roll as you breath so that you end up turning your whole body including your neck and head, as one (as if an iron bar is tied to you), so you roll more than you might normally, extend your leading arm as you do, breathe, then roll back into the water. If you do this exaggerated stroke and breath sequence on the easier side, you might be able to repeat it on the other side, then if you can get that without drowning, reduce the roll and then build up to possibly every 2/3 etc. Or just breathe every one! Worth a try?
  • Hi all, I'm fairly new to swimming myself, and after picking up a few 220 mags, I'm glad I've had a look on this site as there seems to be a lot of decent advice without threads going off on a tangent (too much!).

    With regards to swimming and breathing in general, I've come to realise that swimming effectively and efficiently is a complex mixture of a lot of things. I used to swim a lot, but was only ever confident in doing any distance by breast-stroke, so just before xmas, I decided to read up and learn the crawl properly. It's certainly one stage at a time, as I got my swim technique improved fairly quick, but regarding to the breathing, it just wasn't happening! Everytime I had my breathing right, my swim technique went to pot!

    It's something I'm still working on, and to be honest, the less people distracting me in the pool, the better. I've been toying with breathing every two and four strokes, both of which seem ok, however I believe the bilateral technique is one to learn soon too. I'm not sure if it's just me, but breathing simply seems a difficult task in its own right, I've got mild asthma and I'm convinced this doesn't allow me to get as much air in the lungs as I want, and apart from that, I'm taking in half the swimming pool with me sometimes!

    My local pool is 100ft (30M) and I can just manage a full length underwater too.

    I'm pretty fit as I already cycle a lot, but I'm really getting into swimming now, and I do believe that a Tri maybe on the cards this or next year.

    Just my 2 cent's worth, and thanks to all those who have contributed to my increasing knowledge and given good advice so far.
  • lauraflauraf Posts: 31
    Hi, I am in the same situation as several of you in that I can swim for ages breaststroke but only with my head above the water! I have finaly bitten the bullet and found someone to teach me the whole breathing thing. She has started me off using a float in front of me so that there is no need to concentrate on actually swimming, just breathing. I have only had one half hour session with her but it is starting to work, I think the fact that you only need to focus on breathing really helps. Now I just need to learn to swim while I'm breathing! xxx
  • The thing for me is not the actual stroke & breathing timing, but actually breathing in and also breathing out! I think I've learned that I personally have to consistently only use my mouth other wise water is going up my nose etc!

    I have got the total immersion DVD, and although the swim drills look interesting & no doubt work, there is little in way of breathing, as in my opinion, it has to be one of the first obstacles to overcome.

    My previous history of swimming was always breast stroke, but late last year, I decided I need to learn front craw better, without thrashing my head from side to side getting dizzy! I have learned a great deal regarding technique but it has literally only been the last three or four weeks I've managed to conquer putting my head underwater for the purpose of breathing & proper technique!

    I suppose it can only get better and as long as I make it at least once a week, things should steadily improve.
  • tracyftracyf Posts: 1
    hi jade ..a snorkel! fuck me...what a sight..lol i wish i had your front sounds like a damn good idea to me...why make swimming a chore. that snorkel affair sounds like a fine manouvre! xxx
  • BopomofoBopomofo Posts: 980
    tracyf your comment has had me giggling for about 10 minutes now. [:D]

    Jude, I assume the snorkel you're talking about is one of those ones that goes straight up the front, with a headband to hold it in place? I've always wanted to try one of those just to see how fast I can keep going when my breathing is not tied to my stroke mechanic.

    If you are having trouble with something as basic as getting your breathing sorted then it is probably best to look at some swimming lessons. The fault is likely to be a serious technique issue that is tiring you out too quickly. It will be hard to get help on the forums for this.

    I've seen my coach working with some beginners: she has them swimming fc with left hand flat on a float, swimming with the right hand, and taking a breath as the right elbow starts to lift. When you take the float away the left hand naturally completes the stroke just to keep you balanced.

    Basically it's the old favourite one-handed drill just with a float to keep you bouyant.

    Anyway, stop listening to me and go find a coach for a few lessons. Many pools do very inexpensive beginner or improver courses that have small classes and run for 6-8 weeks. You won;t get 'performance coaching' but it will at least get you moving.

    Good luck!

    **EDIT** And I've just realised that we're all responding to an 18 month old thread resurrected by The Prof. I wonder how Jude got on, anyway? She's probably in team GB by now.
  • I noticed how old the thread was, but thought it was silly to start a whole new one up, otherwise the same stuff gets repeated!

    Thanks for everyones help so far too!
  • BopomofoBopomofo Posts: 980
    Fair point, Prof! Try to make it three times a week, though, and keep the sets short. No point seeing if you can manage 20 lengths if it is all poor technique. Stick to doing 50 or 100m sets with a very short recovery in between, maybe 20-30s. This will give you enough recovery time to keep your technique good, but still keep the heart pumping.
  • Cheers for that Bopomofo. I just need to get my funding together quickly for an annual pass otherwise it's going to cost a fortune in the long run! It will be good to know I can just go for a "dip" whenever I feel like it, as at the moment, I'm trying to dodge the masses as it were! At least if the pool is crowded I can work on drills! I don't find swimming too tiring, but I always know when I've worked myself and I just don't think that feeling can be beaten. I have to put some serious effort in on the bike to get the same pleasure of achievement!

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