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Swimming and breathing

One of the problems I have had with getting back into the water is that of running out of breath.  Seems like swimming and breathing weren’t really meant to go together.

My two strokes are breaststroke and front crawl.  Breast stroke I find quite easy to get the breathing right, but crawl, perhaps because it used far more energy, always seemed to leave me breathless these last few weeks, and I certainly couldn’t do more than a couple of lengths without dropping back to breast stroke for a couple of lengths to recover.

Today I spent a bit of time analysing my stroke and breathing.  Keeping in mind the fact that breathlessness can be caused by too much carbon dioxide build up (hold your breath and that’s what happens) I started to think about how much air I was actually expelling.  It was at that point that I realised that I wasn’t breathing deeply enough.  I was shallow breathing.

More thought revealed that with my head in the water and ‘trickle’ breathing as it was called was still leaving about a quarter of a lung-full of air.  So I wasn’t fully expelling the CO2.

It took quite a bit of effort to convince my body and brain, but will power won out!  I concentrated on doing a 3-stroke-breath rhythm and made sure that I got all of the air out of my system that I could before taking the next breath.  That combined with an improved crawl stroke meant that I was able to do more lengths of continuous crawl stroke.

And I must add that that meant I was going faster and further than anyone else in the pool.  Up until that point I was really struggling to keep up even with people much older than me.