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Swimming: how to breathe between strokes?

Fluffy Kitty

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#1
I just can't breathe out between strokes while crawling, and so have to take frequent breaks. When I try, the bubbles are so loud that I get a mild panic attack, and my chest aches from the strain of trying to push the air out. Is this something that I will just get used to with practice, or is there a special trick?

Thanks!
 

Kimmyt

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#2
I would think you would get used to it with practice, you can start by focusing just on the breathing- holding onto the side, or a kickboard, and just focusing on putting your head into the water and slowly breathing out. You don't really need to forcibly breath out (actually it sounds like this is the problem, you are exhaling too forcibly and fast and possibly emptying your lungs too much hence the aching chest), its a slow calm exhale just like when you blow bubbles off a bubble wand where if you blow too hard you will pop the bubbles. Then lift your head to breathe or once you get comfortable with that turn your head to the side with one ear still in the water to breathe.

I would start by focusing on just breathing and kicking instead of adding in arm strokes because if you are having trouble breathing while doing a normal stroke that says to me that something is very wrong with the speed or pacing of your breath. Count 1-2-3 while you exhale and then breathe in with head out of water. Repeat. Rhythm is really important in swimming, so figuring out a good rhythm for breaths will really help you get a good inhale and exhale. Once you can do this without having to stop, then add in arm strokes.
 

Fluffy Kitty

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#3
Funny how I didn't think there would be a drill for this. :smile: I will try the steps you suggest. Thanks!

If it matters, the chest ache happens at the beginning of the breathing out. When it happens, no air comes out, in fact, unless I really push (painful!), so I have to go back to breathing out into the air. It feels like the lungs are too full? Not sure.
 

Kimmyt

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#4
Are you holding your breath before breathing out? That could be causing the aching feeling. Theres a drill for everything in swimming ;) Its possible that yes you are overfilling your lungs too. A lot of times when people are uncomfortable in the water (which is understandable if breathing is causing difficulty) they try to force it too much and it messes up the rhythm.

There are a ton of youtube videos out there with swimming drills for every kind of issue, and it might even be worth it to get a session or two to work on technique with a WSI (my husband got adult swim lessons a few years ago and they helped him immensely). . If just breathing and kicking is too tricky at first you can do more simple breathing drills like so
 

Fluffy Kitty

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#5
Are you holding your breath before breathing out? That could be causing the aching feeling.
Yes! So, sounds like I should start exhaling right away... The drills from the article will help me feel less panicked, and get a feel for what exhaling underwater feels like. OK. I feel more hopeful.

(And, of course! Lessons!)
 

tinymoose

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#6
This is funny, I did a double take when I first saw this, because this is what I'm working on in my swim class right now. I learned how to swim as a kid, but missed out on a lot of formal instruction you'd get on the various strokes, including breathing technique. I've always basically just held my breath and then I have to both exhale and inhale at the same time when I lift my head for air. So basically a hot mess that gets out of breath quickly.

Anyhow, it's going to take some time to drill it in as something you just naturally do, but the rec above to use a kickboard and just focus on the blowing bubbles and then taking a breath when you're near to but not completely out of air is a good one. It's basically what my instructor has been having me do. It's slowly improving as is my stamina, but it still has a long way to go. I still catch myself holding my breath at times.
 

Kimmyt

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#7
Let me know how the drill go, swimming is a super technical sport so practice makes perfect!
 
#10
I struggle with this as well, despite swim lessons.

I went to Maui last April (over a year ago) and both snorkeled and SNUBA'd. This was terrifying for someone with minimal swimming skills, but once I overcame my fear I really enjoyed both experiences. I was enthused by the idea of getting Scuba-certified then traveling this summer to Australia to both ski and scuba.

Sadly, I will never be a good enough swimmer to achieve this goal.

I don't know why I can't master how to breathe while stroking.
 

Fluffy Kitty

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#11
I was finally able to go a couple of times. The drills did help! And I can now (somewhat) breathe out between strokes, and don't need as much "panting breaks" between laps; starting to breathe out before the face is underwater was one helpful "trick" I picked up somewhere. Adding the arms definitely disorganizes everything, so it will be a while before I get the rhythm down. Trying to breathe out the left side is completely laughable at this time with arms, of course.

The noise of the bubble still bothers me, but it is getting better with time, I think.

My daughter was on the high school swim team for 4 years and for practice drills they used a swim snorkel.
I do have a decent snorkel now, but haven't tried it. How was it used?

I don't know why I can't master how to breathe while stroking.
I tried getting SCUBA certified, too, and the first instructor I tried had such a tough swim-ability requirement! I switched to a different instructor, and they were a lot less strict. I think being certified at a resort is easier, too, as you can also just get the dive time in, too, which I never got around to completing.
 

Fluffy Kitty

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#12
It's slowly improving as is my stamina, but it still has a long way to go. I still catch myself holding my breath at times.
it often feels like my lungs just don't have the strength, and it's more restful to hold the breath... even if I pay for it. I guess it's like ski legs; gotta build the right muscles.
 

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