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number of strokes per breath

Just wonderd whether anyone has any view on the optimum number of strokes per breath. I have been taking a breath every 4 strokes but whilst watching the Windsor Tri on the telly I noticed that the elite athletes were taking one on every stroke. Having tried this in the pool it felt quite clumsy, what are the advantages of taking more breaths per stroke? Is it worth persevering with?


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    gaterz1981gaterz1981 Posts: 233
    They do every stroke because of the effort/oxygen their body is using. Stick to whatever you feel best with. Also you will notice that sometimes they aint lifting the head to get air, the are lifting it to look ahead to remain in correct race line.
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    legalbeaglelegalbeagle Posts: 208
    Hi there,

    I'm no expert but generally I breathe every third - this suits my pace and I can maintain it for a good length of time, however, that's unless I'm really pushing it and "sprinting" flat out at the end then I go for every second.

    I often chose every second in rough open water so I can breathe away from the waves and it helps me to reduce motion sickness, which I really struggle with.

    The reason you often see the elites breathing every second stroke is that at that pace, you need more oxygen and you don't get enough if you breathe every 3rd or 4th. Rick Kiddles open water DVD (the freebie that we all got with a recent issue of 220) covers this pretty well.

    Personally I'd say go with what feels comfortable for you and what works. Youknow what they say - if it ain't broke.....
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    TommiTriTommiTri Posts: 879
    personally I stick with 1 breath every 2 strokes.

    I do breath on every stroke sometimes while training, but this is more to ensure that I'm rolling my body enough on each stroke, as I used to have a tendency to not role my body enough on the side that I'm not breathing on.

    In the pool I breath on the right every 2 strokes, in open water I do 2 R 2 L and so on, to keep me in a straight line.

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    BrunoBruno Posts: 7
    Thanks for the advice, it looks like I am probably spending a little too much time with my head down in the water and since I dont need the oxygen I am probably not pushing hard enough, right! back to the pool it is.
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    trijunkerstrijunkers Posts: 55
    I'd go for a breath on every stroke. Ok, we're not elite but[&o]still need to get as much oxygen in as poss to get the power on!
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    sfullersfuller Posts: 628
    on EVERY stroke.... you sure about that?
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    I was in the breathing every two strokes camp but found that my whole action was really lop sided with all the power coming on my right (breathing side).

    I've really worked hard this week on bi-lateral breathing every three strokes and have to say that already my entire action is far more even and I'm getting a far better pull on the left side.

    I do think this is a topic where everyone has to do what suits them best.
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    LindsLinds Posts: 124
    I had my first ever training session two weeks ago, and one of the first things I was told was to change my breathing from every 2 strokes (right hand side) to every 3 strokes.

    I haven't found it to difficult changing the breathing pattern (but do find it tricky trying to impove my stroke at the same time) although I have found that for some reason I now seem to be swallowing a lot of air and getting rather bloated and burpy.

    So far I seem to be about 1 - 2 minutes slower over 750m, so unless I can improve this over the next 2 weeks I'm going to revert to breathing every 2 strokes for teh Bath Sprint, but continue to work on 3 strokes and technique afterwards.
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    I think the best advice that I have given which really makes sense is - in the pool/when training try and breathe every 3rd stroke, this helps improve technique as it reduces the liklihood of lopsidedness (is that a word?!). In addition it also gets your body used to working with less oxygen which gets you fitter.

    Then whenever you race always breathe every second stroke to get the max oxygen in, as you don't want to be hitting lactate thresholds with a bike and a run to come!

    Of course the theory is good, but practice is much harder. I am a natural left sided breather and have been trying to teach myself to breathe to the right. I am slowly getting the hang of it but its no where near as natural and the breath always feels quite rushed - guess I really need a coach to tell me what i'm doing wrong!

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    SuperCazSuperCaz Posts: 54
    I breathe every four in training. As someone else said, it helps build up your lungs.

    But I have taught myself to breathe every four on both sides so that when in the sea I can chose which side I use depending on the direction of the waves.

    The advantage of every four is that if you take on a mouthful of water you only have another two strokes before you can breathe again. With three stroke swimming you have to wait three breaths or get a very clumsy stroke which will cost you time.

    In the pool I revert to 2 stroke breathing when sprinting and I am getting tired. In the sea I tend to stick with four stroke as I am generally doing endurance in the sea and therefore aren't working as hard.

    So to answer your question on what is best, I think it depends on what you find most comfortable. I tend to hypervventilate if I try three stoke breathing for any length of time.
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    jonEjonE Posts: 1,113
    I am no expert at this but perhaps looking at how you breathe out as well as in may help.Do you trickle breathe out,that is a long slow exhalation and then breathe in when you feel the need,or an explosive breath out in the first stroke and then breathe in 2/3/4 strokes later.I find trickle breathing better for a relaxed long swim but the latter if I need an acceleration.
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    every two in the open water changing from left side to right side every 10 (gives a balance) - it is generally about rythm, breathing every two allows you to sight when required and if you take in water you can get another breath /cough it out at the next cycle. I generally take 4 at the start of the race then when in more open water/competitors have spread out get into an every two strokes rythm - it feels comfortable for me and as supercaz notes this is important (like fit on a bike)

    In a pool i would breath once every 3/4 at a minimum depending on lane position - in sprints such as 25m, probably start and then when i finish, 50m (lc) twice/three times maybe 100m every 5/6 etc it's got something to do with the energy systems but cannot remember since it has been about 15 years since i swam competitions
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